Fans hoping to see high-octane offense would have wanted to avoid the Orange Bowl on Saturday night. Defense ruled the day as No. 23 Virginia Tech clawed their way to a 17-10 victory over the University of Miami.
For a while, a shutout looked like a possibility as Virginia Tech led 10-0 at halftime against a meager 99 Miami yards.
A career-long 55-yard field goal by kicker Jon Peattie finally put Miami on the scoreboard with 4:43 remaining in the third quarter, ending the shutout fears.
After Peattie had a 52-yard field goal blocked at the end of the third quarter, the Miami defense forced a punt. Running back Tyrone Moss took advantage and turned a stuffed run up the middle into a spin-out 50-yard touchdown run to tie the game at ten apiece.
Corner back Glenn Sharpe intercepted a Sean Glennon pass with 6:03 left in the fourth with the score still tied. The Hurricanes were unable to mount a drive, as quarterback Kyle Wright had a pass batted backwards and picked off by Xavier Adibi. Adibi returned it to Miami’s 26-yard line.
Four Branden Ore rushes later and the Hokies had regained the lead at 17-10.
“I saw one of the defensive linemen put his hands up and make a good play on the ball,” Adibi said of the interception. “It was tipped and I saw the ball in the air and made a play on it.”
With one last opportunity for a drive, Wright’s first pass attempt was intercepted by Brandon Flowers and the game was effectively over.
“The defense played unbelievable tonight and once again we didn’t get it done,” Wright said. “The defense came out here and did what they were supposed to do and as an offense we didn’t.”
The Hurricanes held Virginia Tech running back Branden Ore, who had rushed for a combined 410 yards in his last two games, to 79 yards on the ground.
“The one good thing I can say about the offense is every time we had good field position we capitalized on it,” Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon said.
Moss ran for 107 yards on 13 carries, including a highlight-worthy run that looked as if he had been stopped by Hokie linebacker Vince Hall, when he suddenly spun around and broke through the line for a 50-yard touchdown.
“[Moss] really gave us a chance to win the game,” Miami Head Coach Larry Coker said. “He ran well and had that nice run to break a few tackles for the long touchdown.”
Defensively, the Hurricanes held Virginia Tech to 53 yards rushing to mark the ninth consecutive game that their opponents have failed to break the 100-yard mark. The Hokies could only manage 139 total yards, and were outgained by Miami by nearly 100 yards.
“It’s a travesty to lose the football game giving up a total of 139 yards,” Coker said. “We did not contribute much to this game, especially the second half, offensively.”
For Miami, now 5-4 on the season and 2-3 in the ACC, frustration continues to mount. Fans could be heard chanting “fire Coker” as time ticked away late in the game and the team ran off the field to a chorus of boos.
“All it takes is just a little spark to keep going,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “We just have to keep going, and keep fighting in practice.”
Brian Yates may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org