Despite coming out hot in the third quarter and trailing by five heading into the fourth, Virginia Tech’s effort wasn’t enough in its 38-26 to Miami in a rainy Hard Rock Stadium.
The Hokies (5-6, 3-4 ACC) got behind early and trailed 28-13 at half. Though Tech held the Hurricanes (6-5, 4-3 ACC) to just 54 yards on the ground, it couldn’t touch Manny Diaz’s aerial attack.
“We weren’t ready to play,” interim head coach J.C. Price said afterwards. “And that landed squarely on my shoulders, and there’s no excuse, there’s no asterisk by it. It doesn’t matter the situation. I’ve told them before the game started, I told them when the game ended: a loss is a loss. There’s not going to be an asterisk.
“I still love this team. I still like them. I like the fight. … Nobody flinched at halftime. It was probably still the middle of the third quarter, beginning of the fourth, we still felt on the sidelines like we were going to win the game. It just didn’t happen.”
Tyler Van Dyke completed 19 of his 33 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns, including two scores of 50-plus yards. The ‘Canes put up 411 total yards and averaged 6.5 yards per play.
TVD's last five games:
🏈 357 Pass Yds, 3 TD
🏈 316 Pass Yds, 4 TD
🏈 389 Pass Yds, 3 TD
🏈 426 Pass Yds, 3 TD
🏈 325 Pass Yds, 4 TD@Tyler_Van_Dyke is the only ACC QB over the last 15 seasons with five straight 300+ Pass Yds and 3+ Pass TD games. @CanesFootball pic.twitter.com/8EdnaHdj7k
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) November 21, 2021
Brashard Smith’s 75-yard touchdown with 7:33 left in the third quarter extended Miami’s lead to 18, 28-10, and though Virginia Tech pulled back with two scores of its own, Mike Harley’s 55-yard house call sealed the game with 10:39 to play.
Van Dyke became the first opposing quarterback to throw for over 300 yards against the Hokies this season. The previous high this year was Middle Tennessee’s 283 yards. In ACC play, it was Syracuse’s 236.
“They’ve got very good receivers, and he’s a good quarterback that’s got really good arm talent and made some good throws,” Price said. “We knew going in, they’re a Miami team and they have great speed. And we thought that their offense was built around big plays, and if they didn’t get a big play, they’d have trouble scoring. And that held true.
“If they had big plays, they scored. If they had to drive it, we had a chance to get off the field. That’s kind of a nutshell on defense.”
Offensively, Virginia Tech kept pace once it got into the rhythm in the first half. At the intermission, the Hokies had a balanced offensive attack: 129 yards on the ground, 109 yards through the air.
Even though Tech came out firing after the break and made it a close game, it wasn’t a spectacular performance by any means on that side of the ball.
After Miami extended the lead to 31-13 with a field goal early in the third quarter, the Connor Blumrick-led offense drove 75 yards and six plays, culminating in a seven-yard fade to Kaleb Smith for six. “Saw ball, get ball,” as Smith said postgame.
Then, Price gambled. He said entering Saturday’s game, the staff thought there was going to be an opportunity for a “bunt kick, the surprise onside.” And Tech was right.
Just after the touchdown, John Parker Romo hit an onside kick that was muffed by Miami and recovered by Keondre Ko. Seven plays and four minutes later, Tech was in the end zone again, this time on a four-yard pass from Blumrick to true freshman Da’Wain Lofton, his first career touchdown pass.
“We see them every day put the work in,” Smith said of Lofton and Jaylen Jones making plays. “We know they can play at this level and go out and make plays for us. It’s awesome to see them have an opportunity to do that.”
Blumrick was a perfect five-for-five in the third quarter and Tech controlled the game, earning first downs on two-of-three third down scenarios.
After Miami scored quick – in 1:19 – on the 55-yard bomb to Harley, the Hokies trailed by 12, 38-26. However, needing a response, they couldn’t generate anything. They ran 13 plays – nine rushing, four passing – and gained 19 total yards. Blumrick didn’t complete a pass, and all three drives ended in punts from Peter Moore.
The ‘Canes got possession back with 6:17 remaining and ran out the rest of the clock, cementing Tech’s loss.
“We felt like we definitely had a lot of momentum [after Lofton’s touchdown],” Hokies offensive lineman Johnny Jordan said. “We had just scored. The sideline was really excited to just get going and we felt like we had a lot of momentum … and then it kind of happened.”
Tech was without offensive guard Lecitus Smith, who missed the game due to injury. Center Brock Hoffman played in spurts, while wide receiver Tre Turner played in the first half. He had a fabulous one-handed touchdown grab but reaggravated his injury from Georgia Tech, which forced him to sit out for the second half.
— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) November 21, 2021
Blumrick and Braxton Burmeister shared duties behind center, but after Burmeister was sacked and fumbled with 11:47 to play in the third quarter, it was all Blumrick for the last five drives.
“We went with the hot hand,” Price said. “Blumrick, the offense was moving when Blumrick was in there. The threat of him being able to run and run physically, and we thought he was our best chance of moving the ball.”
Virginia now awaits on Saturday, Nov. 27 in the Battle for the Commonwealth Cup. A 3:45 p.m. ET kickoff on the ACC Network from Scott Stadium, the Hokies need a win to become bowl eligible. The Cavaliers lost to Pitt, 48-38, at Heinz Field, which clinched the Coastal Division title for the Panthers.
Quarterback Brennan Armstrong played, and he looked like his usual self: 36-49 (73%), 387 yards, 9.9 avg, 3 TDs, 1 INT. Five UVa players had a catch of 20-plus yards, too. After seeing what Tech’s defense gave up at Miami, playing Armstrong & Co. is a scary situation. The Hokies need this one, though.
“At this point, obviously we always want to go 1-0, but this one – yeah,” Smith said. “This one we’ve marked on our calendar for a while now. We don’t lose this one.”
Box Score: Link
- Raheem Blackshear didn’t have a carry until 7:52 left in the game. When asked about it postgame, J.C. Price didn’t have any answers, which isn’t a surprise for a defensive guy. “I’m not sure right now. I’m not sure.”
- Another game, a lot of penalties for the Hokies. After being so good earlier in the season, Tech’s really struggled with flags. VT had a season-high 12 vs. Duke and had seven for 65 yards in Miami Gardens.
- Tae Daley missed the second half due to a targeting penalty in the middle of the first quarter. He will be back for VT-UVa.
- Kaleb Smith on how difficult this week has been with the parting of ways with Justin Fuente: “That’s tough. That’s something that you never expect to happen, never expect to see on a Tuesday morning waking up early, getting ready to head to practice and you kind of get a bomb dropped on you. But I think position coaches and head coaches and J.C., they did their best to show us, yeah, this is not normal. They didn’t want to pretend like it was normal. Just find ways to get us focused. Find ways to get us out there every day and still come out with the same energy.”