Hokies beat Seminoles for ACC title, Orange Bowl berth

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. | It took just five days for Virginia Tech to go from national title contender to head-scratching also-ran.

Then the Hokies began to turn their season around. They’ve been getting better ever since.

Slowly and quietly, they have climbed back with 11 straight victories, culminating in Tyrod Taylor’s four-touchdown performance Saturday night as No. 12 Virginia Tech beat No. 20 Florida State 44-33 for its third Atlantic Coast Conference title in four years.

Nearly forgotten after falling to Boise State and FCS school James Madison, Virginia Tech is headed to the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3, while Florida State will have to settle for the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31.

“Those two losses we had at the beginning of the year makes these 11 wins and an ACC championship seem even greater,” said Beamer, who won his 240th game.

Taylor threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns and his dizzying 5-yard scramble for a TD early in the fourth quarter put it away for the Hokies in front of thousands of their orange, poncho-clad fans on a dreary and chilly night.

Selected the game’s MVP, Taylor’s top target was Danny Coale, who caught six passes for a career-best 143 yards and a score while exposing Florida State’s shaky secondary.

Ty Jones rushed for three touchdowns for Florida State (9-4), while EJ Manuel threw two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, filling in for injured starter Christian Ponder.

Up 21-17 at halftime, Virginia Tech took control with touchdown drives on its first two series of the second half as it converted 13 of its first 15 third downs.

Taylor was quick to spot Coale when Florida State lost him in coverage at the start of the third quarter. With nobody within 15 yards of him, Coale hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass.

Taylor started the second drive with his one of his signature scrambles to avoid a sack for 12 yards. The drive ended when he alertly picked up a blitz and lofted a pass to an uncovered David Wilson for a 21-yard catch-and-run TD.

It was Taylor’s 23rd TD pass of the season, one better than Maurice DeShazo’s old school record.

“He gives you a chance to win every Saturday,” Beamer said. “We were fortunate to have Michael Vick at Virginia Tech. We were fortunate to have Tyrod Taylor. You get that feeling on the sideline like the next play could be a big play.”

Taylor’s scramble for a score with 11:29 left made it 41-24. Florida State returned the botched point-after for 2 points but it didn’t matter.

It was a sour night for Florida State, which had visions of returning to the top of the league.

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