- - Saturday, December 3, 2011

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After pushing around foes for the last month, the Hokies finally found one that pushed back.

Clemson shut down Virginia Tech’s ground game, and used a nimble passing attack from Tajh Boyd to pick apart the Hokies secondary in a 38-10 ACC championship game victory.

There were glimpses of the dominance that brought the Hokies to Charlotte, but only the Tigers came prepared for a 60-minute physical battle, setting the tone with hard hits and bruising blocks.

“We didn’t do a good job of stopping them,” Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. “We just weren’t doing what we’re good at doing.”

In a tunnel underneath Bank of America stadium, players echoed their coach’s thoughts: Clemson found a way to keep them from playing their game.

Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas walks off the field after its 38-10 loss to Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas walks off the field after its 38-10 ... more >

It’s a loss that will likely send Tech (11-2) to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to face Auburn. An official announcement will be made Sunday night — as there remains a slim chance of a Sugar Bowl berth.

Saturday night’s game swung on a number of small things, each of which went against the Hokies.

It started on the first offensive play, which turned into a Logan Thomas fumble on video review. In continued into halftime, as Thomas didn’t realize the clock would start after a holding call, costing his team a shot at a touchdown.

In the third quarter, after Clemson opened with a methodical touchdown drive, the Hokies were three-and-out, including a horse-collar tackle on Thomas that went unnoticed and an offensive pass interference call against Jarrett Boykin.

“That was a frustrating call,” D.J. Coles said of the Boykin call. “But as an offense, we’ve got to come back.”

Virginia Tech did little to help itself, and struggled to adapt to the smash-mouth game. Clemson’s defense seemed to relish each big hit it dished out.

On offense, Boyd took advantage of speedy receivers and an offensive line that gave him the time he needed to make key throws.

A 10-10 halftime margin didn’t last long, as the Tigers opened up the second half with a 10-play, 87-yard scoring drive that showcased their quick, efficient approach.

“I think their offense did a good job of mixing it up,” Beamer said. “Up the middles, around the sides, down the fields. They get you on your heels, then get you.”

After setting it up all game, Boyd went for the big strike in the third, finding speedy freshman Sammy Watkins for a 53-yard touchdown.

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