MIAMI (AP) – Javarris James ran for a touchdown, Matt Bosher kicked three field goals, and Miami got a huge defensive stand in the final minutes to beat Virginia Tech 16-14 on Thursday night and move into first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division.
Marcus Robinson had three sacks and a big third-down tackle for a loss with 2:27 left to help the Hurricanes win their fifth straight.
Robinson’s stop on Dustin Pickle forced the Hokies, who were out of timeouts, into a fourth-and-3 – and Allen Bailey sacked Tyrod Taylor to seal the win for the Hurricanes, who knelt three times to run out the clock.
Taylor ran for two touchdowns, including a 6-yarder with 3:28 remaining for the Hokies (6-4, 3-3), who had won four of the last five meetings against the Hurricanes, but now essentially need a miracle to stay in the ACC title picture.
So for now, Miami (7-3, 4-2) holds the outright lead in the ACC Coastal, a half-game ahead of North Carolina, which will need to win Saturday at Maryland to keep pace in the race for a trip to the league title game in Tampa.
Robert Marve threw for 121 yards and rushed for 44 more for the Hurricanes, who won just five games total last season and started 0-2 in the ACC this year – yet have been the league’s hottest team since.
And it was the defense that carried the ‘Canes once again.
Miami ran 20 plays from scrimmage in the third quarter, compared with six by Virginia Tech – which never advanced the ball farther than its own 18 in that period, adding to the Hurricanes’ run of defensive dominance coming out of halftime.
Over the last five games, the Hurricanes’ defense has been on the field for 76 plays in third quarters and given up a mere 139 yards, a paltry 1.8 yard-per-play average. And with defense like that, Miami didn’t necessarily mind settling for field goals to stretch the lead.
Bosher connected from 21 and 31 yards in the third quarter, then added a 23-yarder early in the fourth for a 16-7 Miami advantage.
Needing two scores at that point and with time running short, the Hokies looked for a big play – and nearly got it.
Taylor’s pass to Dyrell Roberts on a stop-and-go route was perfect, but Roberts dropped the ball inside the Miami 20 with 7:34 left, a play where he could have easily beaten Chavez Grant for a touchdown.
Virginia Tech eventually got Taylor’s second TD run on that drive – but 4:06 after the big drop, time that the Hokies could have used at the end.
Not only was it senior night for 23 Hurricanes, but Miami added five players – Jim Kelly, Cortez Kennedy, Jim Otto, Gino Torretta and Edgerrin James – to its ring of honor in a halftime ceremony.
Four of those five were present for the party.
The fifth surely got a thrill watching in Arizona on television, when his cousin opened the scoring.
Javarris James – who wears No. 5, just like Edgerrin James did for the Hurricanes – capped a 76-yard, 12-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown burst late in the first quarter. Miami caught two big breaks on that march, one when Orion Martin was penalized 15 yards for a helmet-to-helmet hit against Marve on what was a failed third-down pass, the other when Marve’s fumble inside the Virginia Tech 10 was recovered by Hurricanes receiver Laron Byrd.
Virginia Tech’s out-of-synch offense eventually found a way to respond.
The Hokies started the season with Sean Glennon as the starting quarterback, then went to Taylor, then endured both of them being hurt. And the Hokies’ wacky season at quarterback continued Thursday. Glennon and Taylor alternated often – and, with a direct snap to tight end Greg Boone in the “Wildcat” formation, had three different players behind the center in as many plays on the drive after Miami’s first score.
Eventually, Taylor broke through, his 14-yard run through the right side knotting the game with 4:54 left in the half. But the Hokies stumbled quite a bit offensively from there, and Miami did enough to hold on.