ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Frank Beamer was kept off of the sideline Saturday for the first time since 1989, but that didn’t keep the 68-year-old head coach from breaking out some of his patented dance moves in the Virginia Tech locker room following the 33-17 Military Bowl win over Cincinnati.
Unable to vocally address his team in the locker room post game as Beamer continues to recover after undergoing throat surgery less than a month ago, he expressed his feelings via a letter and a ridiculous variation of the twist.
Beamer watched the game from coaches’ box at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
“We had two objectives that we wanted to accomplish today,” offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “We wanted to win for the seniors, and then obviously win for coach Beamer.”
Beamer relinquished his top-dog duties to his son, associate head coach and running backs coach Shane Beamer, but could be heard through the headsets offering his opinions and groaning at play calls.
“It was different, obviously,” Shane Beamer said. “A lot more going on as far as making calls on special teams. He typically does. Normally when the defense is on the field, I’m over there talking to the running backs or making adjustments with the rest of the offensive coaches. I don’t even know what we were doing in between series today.”
A strong running game, especially in the second half, made the job of the acting head coach and everyone else that much easier.
J.C. Coleman rushed for 157 yards, setting a new Virginia Tech bowl rushing record, and a touchdown on 25 carries. 110 of those yards came in the second half as the Hokies pulled away. He was named the bowl game’s Most Valuable Player.
“It’s very humbling for myself,” said Coleman, who started the season fourth on the depth chart. “I feel like it puts a test to my hard work and to my faith in God. I kept on having faith and it’s really a blessing for me to finish the season the way I did.”
Right before the end of the first half, freshman Joey Slye made good on a 49-yard field goal to give Tech a 13-10 lead. The career-long field goal for Slye, one of four successful kicks on the afternoon, turned out to be the beginning of the end for the Bearcats.
The Hokies opened the second half with an 11 play, 75-yard drive touchdown drive to extend the lead to 20-10. Coleman carried the ball on the first four plays of the drive and gained yardage in chunks.
“We knew we could run the ball on those guys,” Coleman said. “And we challenged the offensive line and we challenged myself and we went out there and got it done in the second half.”
Quarterback Michael Brewer found an open Isaiah Ford to move the chains on 3rd-and-11 in the red zone, and three plays later Brewer faked a handoff and connected with a wide open Ryan Malleck in the back of the end zone.
On the next drive, Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel was hit hard as he dropped back to pass by Deon Clarke, Kiel fumbled, and craziness ensued. Defensive tackle Nigel Williams picked up the fumble and returned the ball to the 15 yard line before he was hit and fumbled. Cornerback Greg Stroman, who helped Tech in all three phases, picked up the ball and dragged a Bearcat into the end zone with him to extend Tech’s lead to 17 points.
“That was a huge play,” Shane Beamer said. “Right before (the kickoff after we scored), Deon came to me and said he needed a blow. And I said, ‘Well, if I’m taking you off kick off you better make a play on defense.’ And he backed it up.”
Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel, who threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, was injured on the play. He was helped off the field and didn’t return to the contest.
The Bearcats, sans their second- and third-string quarterbacks due to injury and suspension, were forced to turn to a combination of the Wildcat offense operated by receiver Shaq Washington and fourth-string QB Michael Colosimo.
Colosimo’s shining moment came in the fourth quarter when he hit receiver Chris Moore in stride down the right sideline for a 43-yard touchdown. It was the Bearcats’ only score of the second half.
Virginia Tech’s win ensured the Hokies would finish the season above .500, a feat they have accomplished every year since 1993 after going 2-8-1 in 1992.
“We’ve got one objective now,” Loeffler said. “I told the younger guys that we’re going to have the toughest, most get-after-it offseason in the country. Cause we’re close, we’ve got talent. We get this thing right we’ve got a chance to do what Virginia Tech has always, and not be 7-6 and go win a championship. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re going to have a great offseason.”
Game Notes, courtesy Virginia Tech Sports Information
- Virginia Tech wore white helmets, with white jerseys and white pants today. Tech is now 14-4 under head coach Frank Beamer in this combination.
- Today’s game was Virginia Tech’s first football game ever on Dec. 27.
- Head coach Frank Beamer coached from the press box today with associate head coach Shane Beamer handling the acting head coaching duties on the side line. In 28 seasons, this was just the second time Frank Beamer is not on Tech’s sideline for a game. In 1989, Billy Hite filled in as the acting head coach when Frank Beamer was sidelined following coronary angioplasty surgery and had to miss a home game versus Tulane.
- Detrick Bonner started his 40th consecutive game this afternoon, tied for the eighth-longest streak under head coach Frank Beamer for a position player.
- Virginia Tech started on defense with three linemen, two linebackers and six defensive backs with Greg Stroman getting his first career start in the defensive backfield. Stroman also played on offense in the game, making him the first Tech player this season to play offense, defense and special teams.
- Cincinnati kicker Andrew Gantz missed a field goal on the game’s first possession. It was the 14th missed field goal by Tech’s opponent this season.
- All-American Kendall Fuller recorded his second interception of the season in the first quarter and the eighth of his career.
- J.C. Coleman’s rushing touchdown in the first quarter extended Virginia Tech’s scoring streak to 256 games. The streak is the sixth-longest active streak in the FBS and the 12th-longest of all-time in the Division I-A/FBS history.
- Chuck Clark recorded his first collegiate interception in the first quarter.
- Joey Slye connected on a 45-yard field goal in the second quarter, a new career long for the freshman. He topped that with a 49-yard field goal to end the first half. That 49-yard field goal is the longest Hokies field goal in bowl history, passing Chris Kinzer (1986 Peach vs. NCSU) and Matt Waldron (2009 Chick-fil-A vs. Tennessee) who had 46-yarders. The 49-yard field goal was also the longest in Military Bowl history. Slye’s four field goals tied the Tech bowl record for made field goals in a game (Justin Meyer, 2012 Sugar Bowl vs. Michigan) and were a new Military Bowl record.
- With his three receptions in the game, freshman Isaiah Ford finished the season with the third-most receptions in a season by any Tech player with 56. The school record for catches in a season is 61, held by Jarrett Boykin, which he set in 2011 as a senior. The other seven Tech players to catch 50 or more passes in a season were all juniors or seniors when they accomplished the mark.
- Bucky Hodges had three catches in the game to give him 45 for the season, falling one short of Mike Burnop’s tight end record of 46 receptions in the 1971 season.
- Tight end Ryan Malleck caught his second touchdown pass of the season to open the third quarter.
- Greg Stroman’s 12-yard fumble return for a touchdown was the third of such kind in Tech’s bowl history. Lawrence Lewis had a 20-yard return against Indiana in the 1993 Independence Bowl and Jim Barron had a 20-yard return against Texas in the 1995 Sugar Bowl. Stroman becomes the 90th different player under Beamer to score on defense or special teams. The touchdown was the 139th touchdown on defense or special teams under Beamer and the 86th by the defense (27th fumble return).
- J.C. Coleman rushed for a Tech bowl record 157 yards in the game, breaking the mark of 153 yards set by Kevin Jones (California, 2003 Insight) and Darren Evans (Cincinnati, 2009 Orange). He’s the 12th Tech player to break the century mark in a bowl game.
- Virginia Tech is now 2-0 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, also beat the Navy Midshipmen 14-0 in 1995.
- Twenty-six of Virginia Tech’s 36 touchdowns on the season were scored by freshmen (28 of 36 by underclassmen). Freshmen scored 251 of 313 points this year for Tech – 80.2 percent – the most of any FBS school.
- The win gave Virginia Tech (7-6) its 22nd straight winning season. Tech’s last non-winning season came in 1992, when the Hokies went 2-8-1. The 22-season stretch of non-losing seasons is the 19th-longest in NCAA history (Penn State has the record at 49 seasons from 1939-87), but is still four shy of the school record. Tech had 26 non-losing seasons from 1894-1919.