Tech defense responds in big way: None too happy with its play of late, the Virginia Tech defense came into the Miami game allowing 364.3 yards of total offense per game, including more than 200 on the ground.
But the Hokies’ defense got back to its old ways, dominating No. 9 Miami from the outset in Tech’s 31-7 victory on a rainy evening at Lane Stadium.
Tech’s defense gave head coach Frank Beamer his seventh victory over a top-10 team since arriving in Blacksburg – and his first since beating No. 10 Clemson at Lane in 2006 – by holding the ’Canes to just 59 yards rushing and a paltry 209 total yards. Miami, with impressive wins over Florida State and Georgia Tech to open the season, came into the game averaging 137 yards on the ground and 465 yards total per game.
“Coach [Bud] Foster [Tech’s defensive coordinator] put together a really good game plan and put us in some good situations,” said human tackling machine Cody Grimm, who was all over the field and credited with 11 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss. “We felt really comfortable out there. We were stopping the run and making them pass, and [Jason] Worilds and the other linemen were getting good pressure. When you get them on their heels and get a lead, it’s a lot easier to play defense.”
Tech’s defense set the tone on Miami’s first possession. Coming free on a blitz, Dorian Porch nailed Miami quarterback Jacory Harris, jarring the ball loose. Porch ended up recovering the ball at the Tech 11, setting up a Ryan Williams 2-yard touchdown run that gave Tech an early 7-0 lead.
“I think that was a huge play in the game,” Porch said. “I thought it was a statement play that this was going to be a dogfight. We started the day like that and we finished it like that and I’m proud of the way we played.”
The forced fumble marked the first of Porch’s career. The sack was the second of his career and the fumble recovery was his fourth.
The play turned out to be a harbinger of things to come. Harris suffered a miserable night, as Tech sacked him three times – he came into the game having been sacked just once the entire season – and hurrying him on numerous other occasions.
“Extremely critical,” Worilds said when asked how important it was to get pressure on Harris. “We had watched the two previous games and he had made some great throws, but no one had been in his face. We wanted to make sure we stayed on top of him all night, just to see how he would react to people being in his face.”
“We got to the quarterback,” Porch said. “That’s the one thing we did different that the other teams hadn’t done. We got to him three times and were able to force a fumble. He threw an interception. That was something he hadn’t been doing and he probably wasn’t expecting to coming into this game.”
Harris finished 9-of-25 for 150 yards, with one interception. Rashad Carmichael’s early fourth-quarter interception set up another Williams touchdown run and put the game away for the Hokies.
“I’ve told the players this was going to happen: whoever can stop the run and whoever doesn’t turn the ball over, that’s usually who wins the game,” Miami coach Randy Shannon said. “Whoever rushes for the most yards, that’s usually who wins the game. You look at it tonight. They ran the football, we did not stop the run, we had turnovers and they had only one. When you play Virginia Tech, that’s what you have to be sound on and we weren’t tonight.”
Williams with another big game: For the third straight game, Tech tailback Ryan Williams eclipsed the century mark.
The redshirt freshman from Manassas, Va., rushed 34 times for 150 yards and scored two touchdowns in the Tech victory. He became just the second freshman in the modern era to rush for 100 yards or more in three straight games (Kevin Jones in 2001).
Williams now has eight touchdowns on the season and is on pace to shatter the Tech freshman record of 11 set by Evans last season. He currently ranks fourth behind Evans, Tommy Edwards (9) and Cyrus Lawrence (9).
Williams, who lost just two yards rushing the entire game, became the first Tech back to run the ball that many times since 2006 when Branden Ore ran the ball 37 times in a victory over Clemson.
“I’m impressed with that guy,” Beamer said of Williams. “He runs hard. He can make a guy miss. He’s got speed, and he hurts those guys when he’s running. I like watching him.”
“I felt like I was getting stronger throughout the game,” Williams said. “I felt like I was running harder than when I first started carrying the ball. I love playing football and I love running. So it was great to get the ball that many times, and with me getting it that many times, I knew the team was relying on me to push the ball up the field.”
Williams came into the game averaging 114 yards rushing per contest. He’s now averaging 123 per game, a number that leads the ACC.
Taylor moves past Vick: Tyrod Taylor rushed for 75 yards on 10 carries and passed Michael Vick for third place on the career rushing list for Tech quarterbacks. The junior from Hampton, Va., now has 1,252 yards rushing in his career, and Vick finished with 1,202. Bob Schweikert holds the record with 1,723 yards, with Bryan Randall second at 1,526 yards.
Boykin with a career long: Tech receiver Jarrett Boykin scored the Hokies’ second touchdown of the game when he burst pass Chavez Grant and hauled in a pass from Tyrod Taylor for a 48-yard score. That touchdown gave the Hokies a 14-0 lead with 4:46 left in the first quarter.
The reception marked a career long for Boykin, surpassing a 41-yard catch against Florida State last season. It was the third touchdown reception of his career.
Boykins’ touchdown capped a seven-play, 89-yard drive. The 89-yard drive marked the longest by the Hokies this season.
Sykes gets Hokies’ first block of 2009: Seldom-used reserve Jacob Sykes became the first Hokie to block a kick this season, blocking the punt of Miami punter Matt Bosher late in the first half. The ball rolled to the Tech 1, where Matt Reidy picked it up and hauled it in to give the Hokies a 21-0 lead with 4:39 left in the half.
“I came in untouched, and when I realized I was going to get there, I just did what we do in our drills,” said Sykes, who subbed in for Carmichael on the Pride and Joy [punt block/return] team. “It worked out for me and I’m glad I was able to make a big play to help us get a big win.”
The block marked the first of Sykes’ career and the 123rd in head coach Frank Beamer’s tenure (61 punts, 38 field goals and 24 extra points). Reidy became the 77th player under Beamer to score a touchdown on defense and/or special teams.
Chancellor’s unsung play: Tech safety Kam Chancellor made a huge play that probably will get little ink. In the first quarter, the senior jumped on a fumbled punt by Tech’s Jayron Hosley at the Tech 11, enabling the Hokies to retain possession. The Hokies then scored on the drive on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Taylor to Boykin.
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