- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 3, 2009

MIAMI | When the coaches met near midfield for their postgame handshake, Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer threw both arms around Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly.

It seemed fitting … since the Hokies had kept the Bearcats wrapped up throughout Thursday’s Orange Bowl.

Darren Evans rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown, Virginia Tech’s defense came up with four interceptions and the 21st-ranked Hokies beat the 12th-ranked Bearcats 20-7 to join Southern Cal and Texas as the only schools to win 10 games in each of the past five seasons.

“I think it’s the best football team, maybe, we’ve ever had,” Beamer said.

The Bearcats probably wouldn’t argue.

Cincinnati (11-3) drove down the field with ease for a touchdown on the game’s opening drive, making Virginia Tech (10-4) appear to be in serious trouble. But it was all Hokies from there, making up for a loss to Kansas in last year’s Orange Bowl.

Tony Pike - who wasn’t even on Cincinnati’s depth chart at the start of the season before blossoming into an all-Big East quarterback - threw for 239 yards and a touchdown, but his night was marred mightily by four picks and getting stopped on fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter.

“Their secondary was the best I’ve ever played against - as long as I’ve been playing football,” Pike said.

Mardy Gilyard had 255 all-purpose yards and a touchdown catch for Cincinnati, which had its six-game winning streak snapped.

“You work out in the summer and in preseason camp because you want to get to this point,” said Kelly, whose team was picked fifth in the Big East’s preseason poll. “But you want to finish it off, so there’s a lot of disappointment.”

Not for Virginia Tech - and not for the ACC, either.

The Hokies became the first ACC team to win a Bowl Championship Series game since Florida State beat - coincidentally - Virginia Tech, then a member of the Big East, for the national championship to close the 1999 season. The ACC had been 0-for-8 in BCS play since.

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