YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Miami Delivers Tech Knockout

Hurricane defense comes up with big plays and hands Hokies their first defeat, 27-7.

November 06, 2005|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

BLACKSBURG, Va. — There was talk that Virginia Tech, in terms of emerging dynasties east of Los Angeles, might be the new Miami and would start proving it Saturday night with a dazzling display of Blue Ridge brawn.

It was all gobbler-gook.

Miami knocked the Hokie out of Virginia Tech, 27-7, at Lane Stadium, re-established its status among the nation's elite franchises and even rearranged a few deck chairs on the BCS Titanic.

"It's a statement to all of college football," Miami tackle Eric Winston proclaimed.

How could so many people, and one bovine, get this one so wrong?

You read it right.

A pampered calf named Shanna, housed in a hatch near the Blacksburg campus, had predicted a 34-17 home win before the game by allegedly licking the final score on her caretaker's hands (34 for Virginia Tech on the right hand, 17 on the left for Miami).

Turns out only one team got licked.

No. 5 Miami improved to 7-1 with the win and No. 3 Virginia Tech fell to 8-1 and, probably, out of the national championship race.

Miami used the generosity of six Marcus Vick turnovers -- four fumbles, two interceptions -- to settle this outcome not long after it started.

It was a 13-0 game at the half, then Miami converted two Vick fumbles, on consecutive third-quarter possessions, into touchdowns.

The first fumble resulted in a nine-yard scoring pass from Kyle Wright to Darnell Jenkins; the second was recovered by Miami lineman Kareem Brown, in the end zone, for a touchdown.

Brown's score made it 27-0 with 1:43 left in the third quarter and led to a boring fourth quarter.

Vick blamed himself for at times "being reckless out there," and that might have been an understatement.

Many Hokie fans were worried beforehand they might go undefeated this year and get shut out of the Rose Bowl by USC and Texas.

The Hokies don't have to worry now.

There were five unbeaten teams entering play Saturday and now, with Virginia Tech and UCLA losing, there are three.

Alabama (9-0) figures to move up to No. 3 in the bowl championship series standings this week with Miami taking over the fourth spot, only two losses removed from a possible shot at the national title game in the Jan. 4 Rose Bowl.

Who could have thought this possible after Miami lost its opener to Florida State and then languished in the national backdrop as real hurricanes became the more pressing concerns in Coral Cables.

"If you guys don't think we're the best one-loss team in the country, something's going on out there in the media," Winston said. "We're just waiting for someone to fall. That's going to happen and we're going to get catapulted in."

In 2001, remember, Miami earned a trip to the last national title-game at the Rose Bowl by defeating Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Even Larry Coker, Miami's normally mild-mannered coach, couldn't help but get excited about Saturday's outcome.

"We took it a little personal," Coker said. "I don't think people gave us much of a chance to win the game here.... But we didn't come in here to be the underdog."

The amazing part was how Miami dominated the game with its tank about three-quarters full.

At one point in the first half, three of the Hurricanes' top offensive stars had been knocked out of the game with injuries.

Wright was forced out after a hit to the head and was counting his trainer's fingers when Miami scored its first touchdown, a fourth-and-goal scoring run from the one by tailback Charlie Jones.

Jones was in the game because starter Tyrone Moss had been chased out with a knee sprain that left him unable to return.

On top of that, star receiver and kick returner Devin Hester hobbled off the field in the first half with a strained left hamstring and did not return.

No Wright, no Moss, no Hester.

No problem.

This was supposed to be a breakout game for Vick, the younger brother of Michael, who led Virginia Tech to a national title-game appearance in 1999.

Marcus, though, could not have had a rougher time against a top-ranked Miami defense that hassled him from the outset.

Vick completed only eight of 22 passes for 90 yards. He had two interceptions and was sacked four times.

Miami's defense yielded only 167 total yards -- the fifth straight game it has allowed its opponent less than 200.

Lessons learned?

"I learned things are not always going to go your way, it's all how you bounce back," Vick said.

In terms of the big picture, Miami needs to keep winning and catch two breaks.

With UCLA dispatched, Alabama and its wobbly offense may be next to fall as the Crimson Tide faces Louisiana State and Auburn in the next two weeks.

Miami has to play Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia and then, if all goes well, will get another shot against Florida State in the first Atlantic Coast Conference title game.

Virginia Tech may fall all the way to the Gator Bowl.

Suddenly, though, 11-1 doesn't sound half bad.

"I've done this thing a long time," Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said. "If you get through a season with one loss, you've had a good year."

The school keeps a trophy case empty in the athletic offices as it waits for the year it can fill it with a national title trophy.

This year, as it now stands, Miami moves on and the trophy case stays empty.

Los Angeles Times Articles