- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 4, 2009

DURHAM, N.C. | With No. 6 Virginia Tech not at its best, Tyrod Taylor needed to be. He certainly was.

Taylor threw for a career-high 327 yards with two long touchdown passes to help the sometimes-sloppy Hokies dodge a letdown and beat Duke 34-26 on Saturday.

Taylor was 17-for-22 with TD tosses of 36 yards to Danny Coale and 28 to Jarrett Boykin, and Josh Oglesby had two late touchdown runs for Virginia Tech (4-1, 2-0 ACC).

“I know we have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball,” Taylor said. “It’s just my job to get the ball to them.”

Playing one week after dominating Miami, the Hokies were nowhere near that crisp. But they were good enough to claim their ninth straight victory against Duke.

“I don’t think that’s the old Duke football team,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said.

Thaddeus Lewis was 22-for-40 for 359 yards with two touchdown passes, including a 4-yarder to Austin Kelly with 25 seconds left. But Lewis said the pesky Blue Devils (2-3, 0-1) too often settled for field goals, with Will Snyderline kicking four, including a 43-yarder that pulled the Blue Devils to 27-19 with seven minutes left.

“We needed to get seven points, and we didn’t do that,” Lewis said. “But three points is better than no points.”

The Blue Devils, 17-point underdogs, kept this one tight throughout but were denied their first victory over a top-10 opponent in two decades. Before last year’s 14-3 loss in Blacksburg, Duke hadn’t come within 24 points of the Hokies since they joined the ACC in 2004.

“We got close enough in the fourth quarter to go beat a great team,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “Once you taste that, you like it. I wouldn’t say we spit it out - it wasn’t a choke - but we just didn’t finish.”

Indeed, Virginia Tech spent much of this one looking ripe for an upset after routing the Hurricanes 31-7 to vault back into the top 10. By halftime, the Hokies had matched their season highs with seven penalties for 55 yards, and they finished with 12 flags for 105 yards.

“Too many penalties and too many long plays,” Beamer said. “We weren’t as sharp as we would like, but I don’t think it was lack of effort. Part of it was Duke, and part of it was us. … Sometimes I think you’ve just got to win some games that’s not real pretty on the road, and this is probably one of those.”

Ryan Williams was held to 83 yards on the ground, 40 fewer than his average. But he had 41 yards and a pair of third-down conversions during the drive that ended when Oglesby’s 12-yard touchdown run made it 27-16 with 9 1/2 minutes left. Oglesby added a 19-yard score seven minutes later that made it 34-19.

For much of the way, Duke keyed on stopping the ground game, and Taylor took advantage.

“When we needed to run the football, and we did, and got points, that was critical to this ball game,” Beamer said.

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