Winning games with help of strong special teams play is nothing new for the Hokies. After all, it’s not called “Beamer Ball” for nothing.
But the Hurricanes were making it too easy for Virginia Tech.
After the Hurricanes took a 7-0 lead on the Morris-to-Coley completion, Miami was primed to get the ball back in Virginia Tech territory following a punt. But Coley fumbled it away at the Hokies’ 45 — after getting hit by punter A.J. Hughes, no less. And five plays later, Edmunds scored his first of the night to tie the game.
Rain was falling steadily. The mistakes, from the Miami side, started coming at deluge rates.
The ensuing kickoff was eerily similar to the punt return, with things going from great to dreadful for Miami in the blink of an eye. Artie Burns fumbled the kickoff return near midfield, Edmunds scored five plays later once again, and the Hokies had the lead. It became 21-7 not long after the third Miami blunder, this one coming when punter Pat O’Donnell’s knee was on the ground as he fielded a low snap at the Miami 17.
“Can’t let them get 21 points like that,” Golden said. “Inexcusable.”
Playing without running back Duke Johnson, out for the season with a broken right ankle, Miami struggled offensively. Take away the two long touchdown passes, and the Hurricanes managed only 3.7 yards per play the rest of the night.
Plus, the Hokies never made the mistake that Miami would have needed.
Virginia Tech converted on a third-and-17 late in the half, when Stanford made three Hurricanes miss — two had a chance at him well short of a first down — on the way to a 32-yard scoring grab that made it 28-14.
“Just thrilled the way we played offensively,” Thomas said. “They did a great job after the catch. … I think every win is a big win but tonight is especially satisfying.”
A third-and-12 play at midfield in the third quarter summed up the night.
Virginia Tech took a time-out to keep Thomas, whose helmet was knocked off on the previous play, on the field. He found a wide-open Willie Byrn for a first down — and when Miami’s Ladarius Gunter punched the ball away around the 5, it bounded into the end zone, only to be recovered by Demitri Knowles for a 35-17 lead.