BLACKSBURG, Va. – Miami played a very solid second quarter Saturday against Virginia Tech, but they soon learned that one quarter is not nearly enough, as the Hokies throttled the Canes, 44-14.
Miami (5-6, 2-5 ACC) dug themselves a hole early, trailing Virginia Tech (9-2, 6-1) 17-0 early in the second quarter. The Canes defense looked stagnant, as the Hokies totaled 92 rushing yards in the first quarter alone.
The Canes struck back thanks to the arm and legs of quarterback Kyle Wright. He rushed for a four-yard score near the end of the first half and threw a one-yard touchdown to Leonard Hankerson on Miami’s first drive of the second half.
Miami’s momentum was as strong as it had been since Florida State four weeks ago. But it all fell apart after cornerback Victor Harris picked Wright off in the third quarter, returning it 44 yards to the Miami 20-yard line. The defense only let up a field goal, but the mojo was gone, and the Hokies would score 21 more unanswered points.
The key of the game seemed to be Virginia Tech’s ability to maintain composure, especially on third-and-long attempts. Virginia Tech went 3-of-6 when faced with third-and-eight or longer in the second half. Those three conversions led to 10 Hokie points.
“We had an opportunity in the third quarter to get back in the game,” said Miami Coach Randy Shannon. “We had them third-and-long. They converted.”
Despite Wright’s 21-of-36 performance, by far the best for the Miami passing game in more than a month, he fumbled twice and threw an interception, all of which led to Virginia Tech points. The passing game still isn’t clicking, as it should for the Hurricanes offense.
“He had three turnovers. That’s three too many,” Shannon said. “But he did do a great job of getting back up when he was knocked down.”
The running game lagged miserably all game, as Miami totaled negative two yards. Even when you remove five sacks on Wright, running backs Derron Thomas and Javarris James only totaled 12 yards, 170 yards fewer than Virginia Tech.
Ultimately, the Hokies simply outplayed Miami, as a top-10 team is supposed to do against an unranked opponent. Their next game is Saturday against an interstate rival, the Virginia Cavaliers, playing for a spot in the ACC Championship game.
“I admire what Coach [Frank]Beamer has done here,” Shannon said. “Virginia Tech is always Virginia Tech.”
The loss is Miami’s third since defeating Florida State last month, keeping them one win short of bowl eligibility.
“I can’t take losses,” said Shannon. “Every time I lose it gets to me. You can’t take anything away from a loss.”
The dejection expressed by Shannon was evident throughout the locker room, as players slammed lockers and equipment repeatedly after the game.
“We didn’t execute,” senior guard Derrick Morse said. “Kyle’s jersey was too dirty tonight.They stopped us, and that kills me.”
Miami now has some positives to look back on, like Kyle Wright’s 21-of-36 passing percentage, by far the best performance this month. They also know, after five quarters of stagnation, that they can get up off the mat.
But can they maintain intensity? One quarter of football isn’t enough. They only have one game left to answer those questions and get to their goal.
“Get to a bowl game,” said Calais Campbell when asked what was the team’s focus going into next week’s trip to Chestnut Hill to take on the Boston College Eagles. “We’re 5-6, playing for a bowl game. The only difference is we’re not at our house.”
Matthew Bunch may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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