December 4, 2010
Tech claims fourth ACC crown with win over FSU
By Jimmy Robertson
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(20) Florida State (9-4) 1077933
(12) Virginia Tech (11-2) 14714944
  • Charlotte, NC - 72,379
  • Passing: Tyrod Taylor 263 yds
  • Rushing: Darren Evans 69 yds
  • Receiving: Danny Coale 143 yds

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor enjoyed a magnificent night, throwing three touchdown passes and rushing for another in leading Virginia Tech to the ACC championship with a 44-33 victory over Florida State in the league’s title game played in front of 72,379 fans at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday night.

The win marked Tech’s 11th straight since the Hokies opened the season 0-2 following losses to Boise State and James Madison. The title marked Tech’s fourth ACC championship overall and its third in the title game. The Hokies won the crown in their inaugural season in the league (2004) and then have won it in title games in 2007, 2008 and this season.

With the championship game victory, the Hokies also punched their ticket to the Orange Bowl. It will be their fourth Orange Bowl appearance.

“This football team, I’m really, really proud of what we’re all about,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “I’m proud of the leadership we’ve had. I think we’ve got a tremendous quarterback who gives you a chance every Saturday, every time you play. We’ve got great character kids, and I think that’s how you come back from an 0-2 start and win the ACC.

“People say, ‘What changed about your football team?’ I don’t think anything changed. I think we were the same football team we were before Boise and before James Madison. I just think we had two tough losses and things didn’t work out our way.

“To turn things around, it has to come from within your team and it did. Thank goodness we’ve got some great kids.”

Taylor is probably the best of the group. Just days after claiming the ACC’s player of the year award, the senior from Hampton, Va., played arguably his best game of the season and maybe the best of his career against a quality foe. He completed 18-of-28 for 263 yards , with three touchdowns and his 5-yard waltz into the end zone early in the fourth quarter pretty much sealed things for the Hokies.

“I’ve played with him four years and it doesn’t surprise me,” said receiver Danny Coale, the beneficiary of most of Taylor’s throws with a career-high143 yards receiving. “I’ve seen his talents and everybody else has gotten to see his talents.”

“It’s a great way to finish a senior season,” Taylor said. “I’m really proud of the way we turned things around. To come back from an 0-2 start, as a senior, it feels good to go out with a win like this.”

Tech led 21-17 at halftime, but the Hokies put the game away in the second half by scoring on their first four possessions.

On their opening drive of the second half, Tech went 67 yards, and Taylor and Coale hooked up on third-and-13 from the FSU 45. Taylor found Coale cutting across the middle wide open and hit him in stride, and Coale did the rest, scoring on a 45-yard reception to give Tech a 28-17 lead with 11:29 left in the third quarter.

The play was the same one the Hokies ran against Miami two weeks ago and Coale scored.

“It’s a crossing route with Jarrett [Boykin], and sometimes when that happens, people come with us,” Coale said. “It happened to us at Miami and it happened to us tonight. “

Tech’s defense held FSU to three and out, and then the offense went back to work. A 61-yard drive ended with Taylor throwing another touchdown pass. On this one, he beat the FSU blitz, lobbing it to David Wilson, who went 21 yards for the touchdown, as Tech grabbed a 35-17 lead with 4:43 left in the third quarter.

FSU managed to cut into the lead on its next possession, as Ty Jones scored on a 1-yard run with 1:44 left in the third, but the Hokies immediately responded. Again, led by Taylor, Tech went 82 yards in 11 plays, and Taylor took care of this one himself.

Scrambling around, he made a couple of FSU defenders miss and then walked into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown run. The Hokies botched the extra point, and FSU took it back to the end zone for two points, but Tech still led 41-26.

Davon Morgan’s interception set up Tech’s final score, a 43-yard field goal by Chris Hazley with 7:13 remaining to make the score 44-26. FSU scored a touchdown in the waning moments to account for the final margin.

Tech’s defense played well in this one, too, holding the Seminoles to just 136 yards of offense in the second half – with most of that coming on the final drive of the game. Tech intercepted E.J. Manuel twice, one by Morgan and one by Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, who returned his 24 yards for Tech’s first touchdown of the game. FSU started Manuel instead of Christian Ponder, who missed the game with an injured elbow.

“I think our defense has made some big plays,” Beamer said. “It wasn’t always pretty tonight, but we made some interceptions and we stopped them on fourth down. Our defense just seemed to come up with big plays. It’s just great effort, and that’s what our whole football team is all about. “

FSU, which is now 9-4 on the season and headed to the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, got 288 yards passing from Manuel, who completed 23-of-31.

The Hokies finished with 442 yards of total offense. Coale had a career night, catching six passes for the 143 yards.

Darren Evans paced the rushing attack with 69 yards on six carries and a touchdown, and Ryan Williams added 45 yards on 11 carries. Wilson ran for 43 yards and caught four passes for 42 yards and a score.

The Orange Bowl will be held on Jan. 3, and Tech will find out its opponent on Sunday night. Kickoff for the game is slated for 8 p.m.

For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Football).

For updates on the Hokies, follow Jimmy Robertson on Twitter (@jrobIHS).

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