BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech’s 30-6 loss to Miami Thursday night was historically bad.
It was the largest home loss of the Frank Beamer era since a 41-7 loss to Florida State in 1989, and the 24-point halftime deficit was the worst since 2007 against LSU.
The Hokies’ only score, a 14-yard connection from backup quarterback Mark Leal to Isaiah Ford on a 4th-and-10 with 1:30 left in the contest, was all that stood between the program and its first scoreless performance in 250 games, dating back to 1995.
“It’s never going to be fun losing,” fullback Sam Rogers said. “I never want it to be fun losing. I want this to motivate us. I want this to hurt.”
In the first half, the Hokies recorded two first downs, accumulated 36 yards on 20 plays — an average of 1.8 yards per play — and rushed for 13 yards.
“We’ve got to get it right and get it cleaned up,” offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “We’re just inconsistent. At times we look like we know what we’re doing and at times we don’t. At the end of the day it’s my responsibility.”
While the Hokies were struggling mightily to get their offense going, Duke Johnson and Miami were charging full speed ahead.
Already up 10-0 midway through the second quarter, Miami took over on Tech’s 24-yard line after Michael Brewer threw three incompletions from his one-yard line and A.J. Hughes’ punt netted 23 yards.
Johnson found the end zone on the first play of the drive, accounting for just a chunk of his 249 rushing yards on the night.
“I was scared to death of Duke Johnson and he proved why tonight,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “He’s just a great football player.”
Gus Edwards, Johnson’s backup, tacked on 117 rushing yards and two touchdowns of his own.
It was the first time since 1994 that a pair of backs rushed for 100-plus yards in the same game against Tech.
“It’s frustrating, but as a team we stick together,” defensive tackle Corey Marshall said. “We understand that what was in front of us was a good football team, give them credit, they made plays. It came down to mental errors, and you can’t dig yourself in holes in these situations, in these games, in these moments and expect things to magically turn around, but we’ll get it right.”
Miami’s first-half exclamation point came with just three seconds left when Johnson reeled in a 22-yard touchdown reception from freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya to extend the lead to 24.
“Of course, as a defense that hurts your pride,” defensive end Dadi Nicolas said. “We just got to get that right so we don’t let our opponents take advantage of us too much.”
In the second half, with a Tech comeback possible but improbable, Tech fumbled the ball away on each of its first three drives. Perhaps the hardest one to swallow for Hokies’ fans came when running back Marshawn Williams coughed up the ball short of the two-yard line just over three minutes into the third quarter.
Trailing 30-0 with 4:09 left in the game, Leal replaced Brewer at quarterback. The redshirt senior led Tech on a 10-play, 77-yard scoring drive, and went 5-for-8, including the touchdown pass that kept Tech’s scoring streak alive.
“I thought he did a good job,” Beamer said. “We’re going to look at it. We’re going to look at it. I think everything is on the table right now. I think we need to look a lot of things.”
Though Tech’s offense hasn’t been able to consistently sustain drives that result in points since early in the game against North Carolina, the team believes it has the ability and potential to right the ship.
“The proof we have is working every day together,” Rogers said. “The proof we have is how we fight together, how we workout together. That’s the proof we have. We know what we have in here. And I know it’s hard for outside guys to see that, but we know we’re going to be okay. But we’re going to be okay.”
With Tech at 4-4 on the season, it needs to win two of its final four games in order to keep its 21-season consecutive bowl streak alive.
But Rogers and the Hokies won’t get ahead of themselves.
“We’re on Boston College right now.”
Game notes, courtesy Virginia Tech Athletics Communication
• Virginia Tech wore maroon helmets, with maroon jerseys and maroon pants for the first time since playing Miami at home in 2009. Tech is now 12-8 all-time under head coach Frank Beamer wearing the maroon-maroon-maroon combination.
• Redshirt freshmen Wyatt Teller (offensive guard) and Andrew Motuapuaka (linebacker) made their first career starts Thursday night. Six true or redshirt freshmen have started for the Hokies at some point this season (Bucky Hodges, Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips and Marshawn Williams).
• With Teller’s start, David Wang moved over and started at center for the first time this season, but for the 14th there time in his career. He has started 31 totals games in his six years, 17 at guard and 14 at center. Caleb Farris did not start, breaking his 24-game start streak at center dating back to last season.
• Motuapuaka came into the game with six career tackles and had 11 alone in tonight’s game.
• Miami’s Duke Johnson, with his 249 yards rushing, became the third Tech opponent to net 100+ yards or more in a game this year, but the first running back. The other two have been quarterbacks. Two additional quarterbacks also rushed for more than 100 yards, but after sacks, they didn’t net 100 yards. Johnson is the first Virginia Tech opponent to rush for 200 or more yards in a game since UNC’s Giovanni Bernard ran for 262 yards in 2012.
• The 24-0 deficit it the largest halftime deficit faced by the Hokies since trailing at No. 2 LSU in 2007, 24-0. Tech went on to lose that game 48-7. The largest halftime deficit under head coach Frank Beamer is 28 points, coming in the 1992 Miami game when the Hurricanes led 31-3 and went on to win 43-23.
• The last time Virginia Tech lost three fumbles in a game was in 2006 against North Carolina.
• Marshawn Williams tallied 100 yards rushing for the game, the 100-yard game of his young career. His 21 carries are a new career high.
• Duke Johnson’s 249 yards rushing were a new Lane Stadium record by an opponent, surpassing the 241 yards by Wake Forest’s Josh Harris in 2010. The total is the second-most ever in a game by a Tech opponent, falling short of UNC’s Giovanni Bernard, who had 262 in 2012.
• Miami’s 364 yards rushing are the most ever given up by a Frank Beamer-coached Hokie football team, surpassing the 346 allowed to Georgia Tech in 2010.
• Isaiah Ford caught his fifth touchdown pass late in the game, giving him five for the season. The five scores tie the school record for touchdown receptions in a season by a freshman (Josh Hyman, 2004), who did it as a redshirt freshman. It’s the most touchdown catches for a true freshman in school history and he now has 34 receptions for the year, adding to that freshman record.
• Ford’s touchdown with 1:30 left in the game is the latest the Hokies have scored in their 251-game scoring streak and just the eighth time the Hokies have scored just one time in a game during the streak. It’s also just the fifth time during the streak the Hokies had to go to the fourth quarter to extend the streak, the last coming in the 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl, a game Tech would go on to win in overtime over Rutgers.