Virginia Tech Overcomes Adversity to Beat Miami 42-35

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Virginia Tech forced five Miami turnovers and sacked Hurricane quarterbacks seven times, while Hendon Hooker made key plays in his first career start, as the Hokies went to south Florida and came away with a critical 42-35 win in a game that had just about everything.  Tech improved to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the ACC with the victory, while Miami dropped to 2-3 and 0-2.

Coming off a 45-10 home loss to Duke, everything about the program was questioned in the last week.  After a demanding week of practice, the Hokies jumped on Miami from the opening drive when quarterback Jarren Williams was picked off by Jermaine Waller on a ball tipped by Chamarri Conner.  Tech cashed in the turnover when Hooker ran it in from 12 yards out, and that opening sequence was an early indicator of the storylines that would come out of Saturday’s game: turnover margin and Hendon Hooker.

The Hokies have been a poor team when it comes to turnovers this year, ranking No. 128 out of 130 teams in turnover margin, while Miami ranked No. 6 in the same category.  Yet in this game it was the other way around, with Tech forcing five Hurricane turnovers and picking off Miami quarterbacks a total of four times, while not committing a turnover of their own.  The defense also registered seven sacks, including 1.5 from defensive end Jaylen Griffin.

Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech had a lot to celebrate after the game. (@HokiesFB)

Offensively, Tech went with redshirt sophomore Hendon Hooker, who had only thrown two career passes.  They ran plenty of read options and designed creative plays to get their tight ends involved.  Hooker didn’t dominate through the air, but he was 10-of-20 for 184 yards and three touchdowns, while he also rushed for 76 yards and another touchdown on 13 carries.  Tight end Dalton Keene had five receptions for 73 yards and three touchdowns, while James Mitchell had three receptions for 75 yards, plus a rushing touchdown.

As a team, the Hokies ran for 153 yards, while Miami ran for only 96.  Tech jumped out to a 28-0 lead, putting Miami in obvious passing situation.  The ‘Canes gained a whopping 563 yards of offense, including 469 through the air, but it took them 55 attempts to get there and came at the expense of four critical interceptions.

Those Miami turnovers were very important to the outcome of the game, so let’s recap them…

Turnover No. 1: Tech intercepted Jarren Williams, and then drove 48 yards for a touchdown.

Turnover No. 2: Williams was intercepted again, this time in the endzone by Caleb Farley.  The turnover possibly cost Miami points, though the Hokies were forced to punt on their next drive.

Turnover No. 3: Williams threw into coverage, this time to Jermaine Waller, who returned it to the Miami 23.  The Hokies drove 23 yards for the touchdown to make it 14-0.

Turnover No. 4: Mike Harley fumbled at Miami’s own 20, and the Hokies recovered.  They drove 20 yards for another touchdown.  Those first four turnovers came on Miami’s first four drives  of the game.

Turnover No. 5: Trailing 28-0, Miami drove it all the way to the Tech four yard line where they went for it on fourth down.  N’Kosi Perry, who at this point had entered the game in place of Jarren Williams, was intercepted by Caleb Farley.

Some turnovers are critical and some aren’t, but all five Miami turnovers were critical because they gave the Hokie offense a short field, or they ended potential Miami scoring drives deep in Tech territory.

After Miami’s turnover fest, the Hokies were up 28-0.  It seemed as if Tech had this one pretty well sewn up.  That’s when things started to get crazy.  On the last play of the first half, the Hurricanes threw up a Hail Mary from midfield that was batted in the air and landed in the hands of wide receiver Mark Pope in the endzone for a touchdown.  It was a fluke play, but it gave Miami some momentum heading into halftime, trailing by 21 rather than 28.  The ‘Canes added a touchdown in the second quarter on a short pass to Brevin Jordan to reduce Tech’s lead to 28-14, and things got a bit tense.

However, the Hokies responded by driving 80 yards in just four plays, with Hooker hitting Keene for a five-yard touchdown to make the score 35-14 with 12:43 remaining in the game.  As poor as the Miami offense had been all day, that seemed like a comfortable lead.  However, it wasn’t, as the ‘Canes ran off three touchdowns to tie the game at 35 with 3:16 remaining.  There was plenty of craziness on Miami’s final two touchdowns.

Trailing 35-27, Miami head coach Manny Diaz surprisingly elected to go for a two-point conversion, which was successful, making the score 35-29.  That means another Hurricane touchdown and extra point would give them the lead.  They got the touchdown, but not the extra point.  In a game filled with twists and turns, kicker Bubba Baxa’s extra point bounced off the upright, keeping the score tied at 35.  The ‘Canes also committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on their final touchdown play, which meant that they had to kick off from their own 20-yard line.

Virginia Tech turned that mistake into good field position, with true freshman Keshawn King returning it 28 yards to the Tech 37.  That’s when Hendon Hooker turned in the most important drive of his career to date.  First he hit Damon Hazelton on a perfectly thrown fade down the sideline for a 29 yard gain to the Miami 34.  Two plays later, on third and five from the Miami 29, he perfectly executed a throw back pass to Dalton Keene for a 26 yard gain to the Miami three yard line.  Hooker and the entire offense went right, while Keene snuck through the defense from right to left and was wide open for the easy competition.

From there, Deshawn McClease punched it into the endzone, making the score 42-35 Virginia Tech with 1:03 left.  Of course, the drama wasn’t over.  The Hurricanes still had a timeout left, and they drove downfield against a Tech defense that was going with a three-man rush and dropping everyone else back into coverage.  Perry hit KJ Osborn for a 16 yard gain to the Tech 20 on the key play of the drive, and redshirt freshman defensive end Jaevon Becton was flagged for illegal hands to the face on the play, giving the ‘Canes the ball at the Tech 10 with just five seconds remaining.

On first down, Perry’s pass was incomplete and batted away by Reggie Floyd, and the clock appeared to run out.  The officials seemed to start running off the field, and the coaches prepared to walk to midfield for the postgame handshake, as ESPN quickly switched over to the Georgia-Tennessee game.  However, what many of us didn’t know until well after the game is that the officials added one second to the clock, giving Miami one more chance at the win.  Perry’s pass was knocked away by redshirt freshman linebacker Alan Tisdale on a play that was not televised, and that some Tech fans still do not realize even happened.  This time the game was over for real, and Virginia Tech could celebrate.

A week ago at this time, it seemed as if the Hokies were down and out, but they fought their way off the mat and came away with a huge road win over a major rival.  They’ll face FCS opponent Rhode Island, who is just 1-4 on the season, next Saturday in Lane Stadium.  Kickoff is set for 4pm, and the game will be televised by The ACC Network.

Box Score

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75 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Thanks Will. You and Chris have a tough job but someone has to do it. In the old days when you picked vt’s opponent you were usually wrong. After last year’s team that is no longer true. Keep up the good work. Writing for a living is tough.

  2. Was I hallucinating or did the replay of the Hail Mary shown in the second half flash back to the announcers booth where they gave each other a low fist bump after Miami scored? The one announcer lived in the area. What’s with this? Miami paid crew from ESPN?

    Couldn’t stand them Turned them off and listened to radio that was delayed but our fellas.

    But did go back for final to see them eat crow!

    1. The announcers were more than generous with their cover of VT. To say otherwise is totally inaccurate. IMO I thought they did an excellent job broadcasting the game. I’d even be willing to bet they heaped a lot more praise & commentary on VT than UM.

  3. An Instant Classic! Makes me feel like we’re at least relevant again. Hope the team keeps grinding – never give up, be tough, play tough, have fun!

  4. The second “final play” was shown on TV – at least partially. They broke back to the VT-Miami game just as the pass was thrown and knocked down.

    I heard the ESPN announcers say “hold on” at the game switch after the first final play and went to the VT radio stream. It was about 15 seconds behind the TV but fortunately I (and those nearby at the bar because I gave hem the heads up) saw the end of the last play.

  5. What a great confidence boost for a team that was ready to thrown in the towel. Now that everyone seems to be on the same page, with good QB play no telling what they can achieve!! GO GUYS!!!!!

  6. A lot of vt fans knowing the history of vt Miami game thought the Hokies would win even after our 2018 and 2019 teams.

  7. Great win! The team played and looked like the good old Hokies that we know off.

    Congrats to coach Fu as well for keeping the team together. After last week’s defeat, wheels could have come off the team but they held it together and came up with a remarkable road win which could be season defining. What a difference a good QB can make and Hooker reminding us yet again that football indeed is a QB game.

    Lets hope the fire continues to burn within coaches and the team for the rest of the season. GO HOKIES!!

    1. I guess you, on the other hand, predicted the outcome correctly? After the first four lackluster performances, something or someone lit a fire under the players and they gave great effort. If we’re being totally honest (and remove our orange and maroon colored glasses), very few, if any, fans thought we would win based on what we’ve seen so far.

  8. 3 knees and a field goal would have been a more thoughtful approach
    It is hard for a coach or oc to think in the heat of the battle but that is what we pay the big bucks for – THINK!

      1. But you are also taking the chance of snapping the ball in the pouring rain, handing it off in the pouring rain and the RB handling the ball in the pouring rain. We won but I would rather Miami who was red hot on offense just not get another chance with the ball. And I don’t think Johnson has ever missed a PAT which this would have been shorter. Ask Belichick what he would have done. If he is Miami he lets you score and he is VT he centers the ball and forces Miami to use that timeout and then runs the clock all the way to 10 seconds and kicks on third down in case the snap is bad you can kick on 4th. Done

    1. Oh h€ll NO! In the rain & for the game? Too much pressure. You saw Miami kicker miss an extra point. Take no chance.

    2. Probably what he was trying to do. Who would have guessed McClease would get 3 yards up the middle on first down???

  9. Well I also had some crow this morning. Team reminded me of what VT football is all about. I think Hooker proved something yesterday and the team rallied behind him. A running qb adds another feature to the game and the guys rallied behind him. Hope we can continue to get better and win a lot more games. Didn’t see this win coming. A win certainly helps especially against the “U.”

  10. You forgot turnover number six. The one that should have really ended the game if not negated by a bogus roughing penalty.

    Great game, that shows what’s possible when your coaches out coach the opposition and our players execute what they are taught. Very similar to the FL St beat down to start last season. Coaches put our guys in position to beat a more talented team and they executed. Let’s hope they keep it up. Go Hokies!

    1. Should have ended the game but not a bogus penalty. He started the shove after the throw was complete looking at it again.

      1. It was a borderline call. But you should never put the refs in the position of having to make a decision on 3rd & 20.

    2. Not a bogus call. Our veterans have made untimely boneheaded mistakes that have hurt the team or killed momentum all season.

  11. Great win, but it did not have to be that exciting at the end. With 1st and goal at the 3 with 1:08 remaining and Miami having only 1 timeout left, I would have thought that taking a knee three times and kicking a 15 yard field goal on the last play would have been a better decision than giving Miami the ball back with a chance to tie with a minute left.

    1. I thought about that too, but my buddy reminded me that THEY just missed an extra point of about the same length. SCORE when you can score.. Now, I may have taken ONE knee to make them burn their last TO, but I GET keeping pushing forward. No time to get “tricky”

    2. Good point. Miami offense was hot and this could have easily resulted in a tie game at the end of regulation time.

  12. Great win. We will be much better off in the long run if we make a bowl game and CF stays around for several years than if we try to find a new coach at the end of the season. Much better play calling, although there were a lot more options with a mobile QB. Long way to go this season, but I am sure we all feel a lot better today than we did yesterday.

  13. #2 seems to be the guy the players wanted. I saw a totally different team on both sides of the ball – playing with confidence I haven’t seen all year, toughness and resiliency. When you believe you have a chance to wjn, the whole attitude changes. I think the players believe #2 gives them the best chance, and you saw what they can do when they believe.

  14. Ahhhhh the start of something special, as Hooker’s debut was a much needed W.

    The Deuce is Loose!!!! As noted his DNA is made up of RPO, which as his comfort level continues to improve so will the potency of this offense.

    Let’s Go… Hokies!!!
    Beat RI…

  15. That’s a college football game! What a feeling to come out on top for once. Total throwback win. “Felt” like a team from back in the day. That might be the most encouraging thing. Definitely fun rooting for a dual-threat QB making plays with his arm & his feet. Miss those days. Wasn’t always pretty but both sides gave great effort, made plays and never gave up. Just got a lot easier for Fuente to breathe.

    Looking forward to Monday’s TSL podcast.

    1. As Will Stewart has said… it is a young season. Va Tech looked very poor in the last 4 games however won a game against ALL ODDS ….(we have fight in our DNA not flight).
      new QB different results and old Foster D..vt is improving …i hope we get 4 more wins..

  16. It was wonderful to see some enthusiasm from BOTH coaches, Justin and Bud, as well as some spirit by all on the sideline. Like the days of old.

    1. My buddy was there and we had a group text. At one point, he texted that the coaches were ALL over on the sideline COACHING their arses off!!..THAT is what we need to see every week, every play!

  17. Wow can you guys imagine if we all thought we won only to find out later 1 sec was put back on the clock only to find out later we actually lost? That would be quite unprecedented and a major buzz kill 😬

  18. Come on guys, can we call off the dogs and let the year play out? Calling for complete tear down of the program was way over the top. Let the boys play. Not saying we’re watching the 85 Bears, just tamp the breaks on firing the entire staff…….when at the time it’s Week friggin’ 4! Foster hasn’t forgotten how to coach. He’s a known quantity. Have to assume his guys are learning. Only fair to see O same way.
    And can we drop the criticism of Fu for his personality and his answers in pressers? For years the same folks mocked Beamer for coach speak and”they’ll get after ya”.

    Ideally , and I think we may have seen the beginning, of a young O line starting to gel. If so, that will cure a lot of issues.
    Nice win, got help, but made plays too.

  19. Pass me a plate of crow please. I predicted same ole, same ole. Great effort by coaching staff and the entire team to pick themselves up and shock the Canes. Glad you decided to leave the portal, Hendon!

        1. And let me be clear…..I didn’t see that coming….but will say, look, they do have the ability to show some fight. This wasn’t about players not liking Fu.

          1. nor did i see it coming. i was taking my time finishing a yard and shed project – in no hurry to get to the TV and see how poorly we might be doing. . . . a fellow Hokie drives by at halftime (out to get refreshments for 2nd half) and tels me the score. . . . so i saunter in and watch.
            from that point on things got dubious. fortunately we won – despite “the ____ is back” assists from refs, multiple faked injury timeouts by scUM players, and our “ACC dudes in Siberian review booth” adding an off-camera, 1 second final play for scUM.

            the 53,000+ attendance looked pretty paltry on TV to me – more like uncheats aluminum and pale blue.

            great resiliency and “never give up” by the team. they looked so much different than last week against dook on field and sideline.

            Go Hokies! . . . petal to the metal. this is still doable – with some other-team and Divine help!

  20. OMG. I am just NOW realizing I missed that last untelevised play. I was confused by some mentions of it in chat, but ignored it since we won. but NOW fully understand. It could have ended up Much different and I would have had no idea until well after the fact. Wow, ESPN really messed up that ending. And basically the rest of he broadcast too. Audio levels were bad.

    1. EsPN put on a full length CLINIC of how NOT to broadcast a football game..from audio, to Miami announcers, to no, or screwed up, replay. That would have been a total embarrassment to me if it was the ACCN..I laughed at them for showing their arses on the mother-ship

      1. I watched the replay this afternoon. The announcers did not seem as pro Miami today as they did yesterday when I was watching live.

  21. This is the 1st time this season that the team has shown it has grit. It showed grit late last year against UVa. The team really showed me something today. There will be ups and downs… and CJF probably does need to be more relatable- especially to his players. You are never as bad as you look when you lose, and never as good as you look when you win (excepting the 1989 49ers and the 2000 Ravens D… and the 1999 Hokies). Today’s level of effort – even if we had lost – was heartening and exactly what the doctor ordered.

    1. I agree with all points. This team looked much better – win or lose. They were making plays, hitting hard, seemed really focused. Played hard the whole game – which was required to get the win.

  22. The 5th Farley turnover wasn’t consequential. It was on a 4th down play and if it was batted down instead, Tech would have had better field position.

    1. Maybe we’re not looking at the same thing – the 5th turnover (4th interception), which was the 2nd by Farley, was indeed on 4th down – but it was 4th and goal from the 4 yard line, and he jumped the route, cutting the receiver off to pick it off in the end zone (that much is on the highlight reel above). Had to search to check this, but guess he didn’t down it for the touchback – but given a choice between him catching it and ending up on our 1 yard line vs. trying to bat it down and have who knows what happens, I don’t think I’d criticize what he did too much – and in any event, I’d say what he did WAS pretty consequential.

      1. I don’t disapprove of him catching it. If he got the touchback it would have been beneficial for sure. Psychologically it was good too, but getting a turnover there was not significant. Think they had the ball around the 5 yard line and we ended up taking over on the 1 as a result. It was kind of a wash, especially when compared to all other turnovers.

        1. Yeah as a turnover maybe inconsequential but not as a great play by D. His mistake was stepping back into field, hard to do and realize real time but he doesn’t make that play last year

        2. What was consquential/significant about it wasn’t that it was a turnover, per se – but the fact that it was a touchdown-saving play. If he hadn’t done what he did, odds are the UM receiver would have caught it for a score that would have been VERY consequential. Then we’d have gotten the ball back, probably on the 25 – but having given up another 7 points, which almost certainly would have mattered by the end. Anyway, the play itself was such a bang-bang situation, it’s not clear to me from watching the replay how much his leaving the end zone was from just not being able to stop his momentum (he was moving from inside the end zone toward the line to grab the ball) versus the receiver basically knocking/pushing him in that direction – looking at it again, my sense is he was trying to get down or at least out of bounds in the end zone but the receiver was wrapping him up, probably still going for the ball, and more or less wrestled him back out of the end zone as they went out of bounds. I’m not seeing anything that looks like he was trying to run it back out of the end zone.

  23. Great win probably most important of CJF’s coaching career! Great way for Bud to remember Hard Rock!

    Now if Canes can beat hoos next week all will be right in the football world.

      1. let’s hope. . . . and a few key hoo’s get lit up – which is always a good chance since refs seem to look the other way in miami, and let the ibis-thugs get their whacks in before and after the whistle.

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