Tech comeback falls just short
By Jimmy Robertson
December 1, 2001 Virginia Tech's furious fourth-quarter rally fell just short as the Hokies lost to No. 1-ranked Miami 26-24 in front of 53,662 fans at Lane Stadium. The win enabled the 'Canes to finish the season with a perfect 11-0 record and thus they will play for the national championship in the Rose Bowl against an opponent to be determined. Tech, meanwhile, finished its season with an 8-3 record (4-3 in the BIG EAST). The Hokies will travel to Jacksonville to play Florida State in the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day. "I'm proud of our players," Beamer said. "They hung in there when things didn't look real good. I'm disappointed we turned the ball over so many times and we made so many mistakes. But I thought everyone played hard." Tech trailed 20-3 at halftime, but managed to slowly cut into the lead. A 1-yard run by Jarrett Ferguson with 10:30 left in the third quarter made the score 20-10. Miami added a field goal by Todd Sievers with 4:41 left in the third period and the 'Canes carried a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter. Another field goal by Sievers gave Miami a 26-10 lead with 11:32 left in the game. At that point, the Hokies started their rally. Jarrett Ferguson scored on a 1-yard run with 8:33 left and quarterback Grant Noel completed a pass to Terrell Parham for the two-point conversion. That made the score 26-18. The Hokies then stopped Miami on the 'Canes next possession, forcing them to punt. Tech's Eric Green blocked the punt and Brandon Manning returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. Tech then went for two to try and tie the game at 26. But Ernest Wilford dropped Noel's pass in the end zone, leaving the Hokies with a two-point deficit. Tech once again stopped Miami on the 'Canes next possession, forcing them to punt and taking over on the 50. But Noel's fourth interception of the day put an end to the comeback for Tech. Noel completed just 4-of-16 for 82 yards and the four interceptions. He also fumbled once. Tech was led offensively by freshman tailback Kevin Jones, who rushed for 160 yards on 24 carries.