Tech Downs UNC 30-3; Heading to ACC Championship
By Matthew Spiers
November 26, 2005 BLACKSBURG, Va. - The Virginia Tech Hokies rode their defense and the legs of their Stallions in the second half to a 30-3 win over the University of North Carolina and a berth in the inaugural ACC Championship game. The Hokies wrapped up their regular season by improving to 10-1 overall and 7-1 in the ACC in front of 65,115 fans at Lane Stadium. UNC fell to 5-6, thus missing out on the opportunity to go to a bowl game. "I'm proud to be a part of the ACC and to be going to play in the ACC Championship," head coach Frank Beamer said. Tech's fans also got to say farewell to 19 seniors who were playing their final home game at Lane. Fittingly, it was two seniors who had the biggest impact in this one - running back Cedric Humes and defensive end Darryl Tapp. The Tech offense suffered through a lethargic first half in which the Hokies amassed just 149 yards of offense and scored just six points. UNC got the first scoring opportunity, though, when Connor Barth lined up for a 33-yard field goal on the first play of the second half. However, Tapp knifed through the blocking and swatted the attempt back to the grass where it was recovered by Noland Burchette. With momentum at their backs, the Hokies went 73 yards in nine plays. A 39-yard romp by Humes was the big play in the drive, but Tech got into the end zone when quarterback Marcus Vick found tight end Jeff King for a 1-yard touchdown pass. Brandon Pace hooked the extra point hard to the left, though, leaving the Hokies with just a 6-0 lead. The game remained that way until late in the half. The Hokies took over at their 31 with under two minutes remaining. On Tech's second play of that drive, Vick sailed a pass to David Clowney that was intercepted by Kareen Taylor and returned to the Tech 30. UNC marched to the Tech 8 and appeared to have a sure touchdown when Matt Baker threw to a wide-open Jesse Holley in the end zone. But Holley dropped the ball and UNC had to settle for a 25-yard Barth field goal, making the halftime score 6-3. UNC received the ball first in the second half, but Tech's defense promptly forced the punt. Freshman Macho Harris charged in from the edge and got a piece of it, though, resulting in just a 23-yard punt and giving Tech possession at the UNC 45. Humes took over at that point, carrying the ball all six plays of the drive and finishing it off with a 1-yard plunge for the score. Pace's extra point made the score 13-3. After the Tech defense forced a three-and-out by UNC, the Hokies took over at their own 40 and it was freshman Branden Ore's turn. Ore carried the ball on all but one play and accounted for all but nine yards as the Hokies marched 60 yards in eight plays for another touchdown. Ore went the final four yards, bowling over a Tar Heel linebacker to reach the end zone. Another Pace point-after put Tech ahead 20-3 with 4:57 left in the third quarter. On UNC's next possession, Tapp recorded a sack and deflected a pass as the Hokies forced another quick punt. A Tar Heel personal foul on the return gave the Hokies possession at the UNC 21. Humes carried the ball four times on the five-play drive, adding another 17 yards to his total. He went the final three yards carrying a couple UNC defenders on his back for his second touchdown of the evening. Pace's extra point put Tech ahead 27-3. Tapp deflected another pass on UNC's next possession, but it was linebacker Vince Hall who made the biggest play when he intercepted Baker at the Tech 40. The Hokies parlayed that into a 44-yard Pace field goal, extending their advantage to 30-3 with 10:49 to play. UNC threatened late, driving inside Tech's 5-yard line, but Baker's fourth-down pass sailed through the end zone. The Hokies took over and ran out the clock, setting off a barrage of fireworks as the players and fans celebrated Tech's Coastal Division championship. "We talked (at halftime) and said, 'Let's just run the football,'" Beamer said. "The offensive line really took over and Humes and Ore did a nice job." Humes set a career-high with his 134 yards on 20 carries. Ore also broke the century mark, rushing for 104 yards on 17 carries. It was the first time that two Tech backs had run for back-to-back 100-yard games since Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones accomplished the feat against Boston College and Rutgers back in 2002. The Hokies stayed grounded in the second half, literally, rushing 31 times compared with just two passes. For the game, Tech ran the ball 53 times for 277 yards. With the running game clicking so well, Vick had a very pedestrian game, completing 8-of-15 passes for 61 yards and the one touchdown. Now the Hokies prepare to face Florida State in the ACC Championship game in Jacksonville on Saturday, Dec. 3. Florida State has lost its last three games, including a 34-7 loss to Florida earlier on Saturday. However, Beamer has never defeated the Seminoles as a head coach at Tech, going 0-6. "I haven't seen them (FSU) very much, but I know they have a lot of good players," Beamer said. "We played them in the national championship game and didn't get them, then we played them a couple years later and didn't get them...they've been a hard team to get." The game will kick off at 8 p.m. on ABC.