No. 9 Miami Edges Virginia Tech 25-24

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Virginia Tech-Miami 2020 Scoring Summary

Jarrod Hewitt Virginia Tech
Jarrod Hewitt had 2.5 sacks, but it wasn’t enough, as Virginia Tech fell to No. 9 Miami 25-24. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

Justin Fuente has never beaten a top 10 team in his tenure at Virginia Tech. The Hokies were on the verge Saturday afternoon against No. 9 Miami, and led for 45 minutes of game action before surrendering a 36-yard strike from D’Eriq King to Mark Pope to give the Hurricanes the 25-24 lead with 5:59 remaining.

In the end, the elusive top 10 victory wasn’t meant to be. From there, Miami (7-1) preserved the lead and handed Virginia Tech (4-4) its third loss in the last four games.

“I just told our football team I feel better about our football team now than I have at any point,” Fuente said. “To stand up to all the stuff they dealt with this week after what happened last week. To prepare like they prepared and to play a team as deep and as talented and as highly ranked as Miami. Again, we’re not happy with not winning the ball game. My gosh, did our guys lay it on the line today. So many great examples on both sides of the ball of guys who refused to give in to negativity, refused to give in to all the things that are out there.”

“Nobody likes losing here,” said Jarrod Hewitt, who finished with a team high 2.5 sacks. “Everyone is pretty upset. The thing is I’m proud of my guys. Coach Fuente kind of echoed that talking about how proud he was of our preparation this week and coming out against a really good football team and giving it our all. It really came down to the wire. It doesn’t feel good. I’ll tell you that. Proud of my guys. Love every one of them and love this program.”

After a competitive first half that saw the Hokies enter the locker room with a 14-13 lead behind a Hendon Hooker 53-yard rushing touchdown and a Jalen Holston 8-yard run, the Hokies came out storming in the second half. In the first two defensive series of the second half, Justin Hamilton’s unit limited King and Co. to minus-7 yards on seven plays. In between those series, Virginia Tech extended its advantage to double digits with another Holston touchdown and a Brian Johnson 38-yard field goal.

With 6:14 left in the third quarter and holding on to a 24-13 lead, it was the last time the Hokies would put up any points on the board. King immediately followed with a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive to cut the lead to 24-19.

Hooker responded with positive momentum that was quickly snuffed out. Facing a third-and-6 from Miami’s 37-yard line, the play call was designed for a Hooker QB power run to the outside. The Hurricanes were on it all the way and stopped Hooker behind the line of scrimmage, forcing a punt.

“We wanted to get into fourth-and-short so we could run it again on fourth down, but we didn’t,” Fuente said. “We were treating third down like second down and we didn’t get hardly anything, so now we’re in fourth-and-seven. We punted the ball and downed it on the 5-yard line and the defense went out and got a stop. Just a long, long field goal. We missed one earlier and our thought is on our third down to try to get it to fourth and manageable.”

The Hokies defense stood tall again and forced a three-and-out. However, Miami’s defense returned the favor, forcing a three-and-out of their own. With the ball back, the up-tempo Hurricanes offense marched right down the field and connected on the decisive touchdown with a 36-yard pass from King to Mark Pope.

“It was a deep skinny,” Fuente said of Miami’s go-ahead touchdown, the only play the ‘Canes had all day that went for over 20 yards. “They had gone to it several times during the game. You can play inside leverage and be in a bad position for a fade, or you can play outside and have to rally to the skinny. They’d thrown it several times and we defended it some. Got a step on us.”

Virginia Tech’s next possession lasted just one play. Hooker looked deep for Kaleb Smith, but he overshot him and Miami’s Te’Cory Couch hauled in the interception.

“Just a miscue,” Hooker said. “Receiver is thinking one thing, I’m thinking another. It happens.”

The Hokies got the ball back again with 4:04 remaining, but Miami continued to ramp up the pressure. After a first down, Hooker was sacked for a loss, putting Virginia Tech behind the chains. 

It was a consistent theme for Miami’s defense, especially in the second half. By playing press man coverage on the outside, the Hurricanes’ defense was able to bring more pressure and tallied 6.0 sacks, including 2.5 from Jaelan Phillips.

“Just kind of waiting for different windows and different plays to develop,” Hooker said of the constant pressure he was under. “Just trying to be alert with the pressure on me and trying to move around. Trying to get my feet set. The pressure did affect it a little bit. That’s football. I’m still supposed to make the plays.”

Following a punt with 2:13 left in the game, Virginia Tech’s defense again made a stop. A week after the Hokies had no answer for Liberty’s offense, the defense put in its best effort of the season. King exploded for over 500 total yards last week against NC State, but he was limited to 255 passing yards and just 15 rushing yards against Virginia Tech. The Hokies allowed a meager 2.7 yards per carry and notched six sacks on the day.

The Hokie defense got good pressure on Miami’s D’Eriq King all game long. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

“I was pleased with the way we played defense the whole game,” Fuente said. “That is an explosive, dangerous unit, and we threw the kitchen sink at them. Our guys executed pretty well. We defended in the back end against some pretty explosive players. I thought the guys played their tails off.”

With one final offensive possession, the two-minute drill that had looked so efficient against Liberty was in disarray. Virginia Tech was again undone by Miami’s pressure. A last ditch lateral play never stood a chance, and the Hurricanes escaped from Blacksburg with a victory.

“I think it was a little different cats,” Fuente said of running the two-minute offense against Miami. “That’s a little bit different deal. These guys are blitzing from everywhere. They’re athletic, they can rush the passer. The last week in two minute offense [Liberty] just stood still. Totally different animal out there today.”

Virginia Tech finds itself backed into a corner again. Much can be made about a better effort and the heart from the players, but the result remains the same. It’s a result that can only hope to be changed on the road next week against Pittsburgh (4-4, 3-4 ACC).

“You don’t get over it in an hour and you forget about it,” Hewitt said. “These kinds of things hurt a little bit. As this next week comes about, we’ve got to lock back in. We have Pitt. They’re a good football team. Historically, Virginia Tech has not done well in that stadium. We’re going to have to have the right mindset. We’re going to have to be ready to go play again and fill up the tank and be ready to empty it next Saturday.”

Virginia Tech News and Notes

Khalil Herbert returned to action on a limited basis after missing nearly the entire game versus Liberty with a hamstring injury. In his return, Herbert carried the ball eight times for 49 yards.

“He said he felt good,” Fuente said. “He’s a really positive kid, though. He started to work in and get a little more work each day. I really was pretty conscientious about trying not to set him backwards is the biggest thing. He’s got a big, strong hamstring and you can imagine when you start to get issues with that, they can linger on for weeks and months if you’re not careful with it.”

“Today I felt pretty great,” Herbert said. “I was just going to go out there and cut it loose and lay it on the line for the team.”

Jalen Holston had his best performance in a Virginia Tech uniform. The redshirt junior was stout in pass protection and notched two touchdowns to go along with 36 yards on the ground.

“I just was proud of the way he was running the football like he was angry,” Fuente said. “Really proud of the way he was running the football.”

Dax Hollifield broke out in a big way with a team-high 13 tackles and two half-sacks. Rayshard Ashby and Devin Taylor both added 11 tackles.

— box score —

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19 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. 511191 9500Beneficial info and excellent design you got here! I want to thank you for sharing your ideas and putting the time into the stuff you publish! Great work! 160372

    1. Haven’t finished in the Top 25 three straight years, this will make it 4 in a row. I guess these facts make me a “hater” in some peoples eyes. Not sure about Fuente. I tend to want to keep him – ahead on the Portal, solid guy, doesn’t seem to be able to recruit. Pretty good offense. Loses to Liberty. This game, unfortunately, makes the Liberty loss worse for me. Got to do better than the last three seasons even if this is a throw-away year.

      Any way you slice it, we are not a solid Top 25 program, not now. Go Hokies!

  2. This team is EXACTLY like the Atlanta Falcons for the last 3 years before we finally fired Dan Quinn.

    Falcons have been poor talent evaluators, poor in player development, and we are 100% inconsistent on the field despite some sprinkles of star talent here and there. The large lesson Atlantans and Home Depot owner Mr Arthur Blank learned was that we and he should have cut bait years early with Quinn and our GM but we did not. We continued to fool ourselves that we would and could get better……yet 3 years later we are irrelevant and the laughing stock of the league for blowing the most consecutive games in the 2nd half in which we lead or led and we are now hostage to double digit contracts owed to Matt Ryan and Julio Jones if we try to cut and run. It will likely be 5+ years to get right.

    Not until I saw the comments from PhoenixHokie below that it occurred to me that either we will always be what we are or that we have already become what we are destined to be…….only a top 30 to top 50 program. That’s an extremely sobering Sixth Sense development for me. The Hokies had one shot at head coach and AD to get their hire right. Could we be dead aleady?

    Is it already too late to save this program?

    Of those who witnessed and personally followed Coach Beamer’s great legacy and the low 2-8 years, Does 2020 compare the same to then or is today far worst?

  3. It was a great run. So close to a MNC is 1999 and couldn’t be further away from
    it in 2020. 21 years later… crazy
    Seeing Michigan bad for soo long. Penn state this year. FSU. Miami. USC. Texas. Tenn / schools with light years better recruiting /coaching (facilities 10x better than Vtech) and can’t get it done. Schiano wouldn’t sign at Rutgers Unless he got the facilities to compete in the Big 10. Tech has one of the worst facilities in the acc and some lame scheme In place to improve them. We were close once but probably will never get there again. Beamer/foster years were special. This is Memphis 2.0 for Fuentes / same or worse talent better conference / just doesn’t work… all the good will from the beamer years and ESPN Blacksburg hype is gone completely. Liberty is the best team in Virginia. Yikes

  4. This team is sooo inconsistent. Sometimes during the game they look like world-beaters in all three phases and sometimes they look like a bad high school team. I guess that is what I should expect in 2020 – I will be glad when 2021 gets here. Go Hokies!

  5. Tough loss. We lack the killer instinct to put in the final dagger when we have teams on the ropes. The offense let down late in the game. No need for negative talk now, otherwise we will hurt our chances to finish with some key wins (UVA). Move on and get better, save other talk for January.

  6. Another game we could have won. This team under Fuente has too many games it should have won, could have won, etc. I’m tired of hearing how proud they are of how they handle tough situations. How about they play/coach/prepare/scheme better so they don’t have so many tough situations to overcome. Another wasted season where promise goes unfulfilled.

    1. Wasted season? Eh? So you’re just cashing it in and joining the ‘Fire Fu’ squad? C’mon people. It’s a Covid football season and YES – these players and coaches are being tested like never before. Ever, never ever before.
      Who exactly do you want to replace Fu and don’t say Luke Fickell. I live in Ohio and Luke is quickly becoming beloved there. Bburg would be a lateral move as it would be for so many other ‘hot’ coaches.
      You want to blow up J-Ham and T-N-T on defensive staff after year 1??? Year friggin’ 1?
      If you have French wine tastes but a fixed Budweiser budget, you better get used to those cold suds because all the complaining in the world won’t change reality.
      Techs reality is the same it’s been for 30 years – solid top 25 program. Open your eyes, get used to it and quit the moaning.

      1. <<<>>>

        While this defines this football season EXACTLY in five words, it’s lost on most fans who don’t have the breadth or depth to understand what’s happening.

        Look at Penn State… Michigan. UGa with top five talent. Were UNC-WF playing basketball where if you touched a player it was a foul.

      2. Spot on! We are currently playing with zero depth at defensive back and wide receiver. Both ended up costing us yesterday. One more play by a number of positions and we hold on.

        Appreciate all that the team and coaches have to do just to practice snd play during this health pandemic. Support these guys!

        1. We have top 25 talent but we can’t beat the teams we should and win enough in general to stay ranked. We showed it yesterday against a very talented team, we have the talent to play with top 25 teams and win. Unfortunately, players are not put in position to execute consistently. This is year 5, should not be any more personnel excuses, not enough to WRs, DBs, etc. these are his recruits. He recruited the hell out of WRs and half of them have left. Time to produce or move on.

      3. Amen brother. The haters are what’s wrong with Hokie Nation right now. The players and coaches need our support.

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