The Hurricanes now control the path to that title.
Stephen Morris threw for two early touchdowns, both set up by Virginia Tech special-teams miscues, and Miami took a major step forward in the chase for a berth in the conference title game by beating the Hokies 30-12 on Thursday night.
The Hurricanes were outgained 421-347, went 1 for 12 on third down, and managed exactly 3 yards on 12 plays in the third quarter. And in the end, somehow, none of that mattered.
“It’s critical,” said Golden, the Hurricanes’ second-year coach. “Again, I know everybody wants us to be national champions yesterday and get back to BCS games and all that, but the reality of it is the pathway through that is the Coastal. It’s almost like we have to re-educate our team. They have to understand, that’s how you get there.”
The message seems to have been received.
Duke Johnson had a 7-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and finished with 217 all-purpose yards for the Hurricanes (5-4, 4-2 ACC), who snapped a three-game slide. The division is hardly a done deal, however — Miami has conference games left with Virginia and Duke, both on the road.
Logan Thomas had a 73-yard scoring run on a quarterback draw for Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3), which lost to Miami for just the third time in the last 10 meetings. The loss also ensures the Hokies’ streak of eight straight 10-win seasons will end this year.
“I don’t fault our effort,” Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. “I fault our execution. We didn’t do the things to win the football game.”
“This game really helps us,” Johnson said.
The Hokies and Hurricanes are two of the best teams on Thursday night — a combined 34-8 record entering the game, Virginia Tech with a 19-5 mark, Miami 15-3.
And the Hokies were 25-2 in ACC games played in November.
Now, they’re 25-3, all three losses coming to Miami, and the Hokies had plenty of chances in this one. Most were wasted, like getting only two field goals in four trips to the red zone, and the Hokies wound up falling for the fourth time in their last five games.
“We haven’t got it fixed yet,” said Beamer, whose team is 0-5 away from home this season. “But I’m not going to give up trying, I’ll tell you that.”