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LANDOVER, Md. – Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux completed a 39-yard touchdown pass to Damon Julian with 13 seconds left to lift the Bearcats past Virginia Tech 27-24 in a nonconference game played Saturday evening at FedExField.
With the loss, the Hokies fell to 3-2 overall on the season. Cincinnati moved to 3-0.
Legaux’s touchdown pass capped a wild, nine-play, 85-yard drive in the final two minutes. Tech got the ball back after the touchdown, but Logan Thomas’ desperation heave was intercepted.
For the second time in three years, Tech has lost two nonconference games in September.
“We had it [the game] a couple of times and then didn’t have it,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “They made some great plays, and we helped them a little bit. That’s the way it is.
“We’ve got our conference to look forward to. We’ve got to get past this one. We’ve got to learn from those mistakes. We had some positive things. We had some freshmen hang in there and get better, and that was a good sign to see. The offense got moving there in the second half. There are some positive things out of this, but it’s a tough way to lose. Again, give them credit.”
Tech appeared to be in great shape to pull out a win after a 93-yard drive ended with a touchdown with just 1:49 remaining. The Hokies took over after on their own 7, but needed only six plays, scoring when Thomas fired a strike over the middle to Corey Fuller, who went 56 yards for the touchdown. Cody Journell’s extra point gave Tech a 24-20 lead.
But Legaux calmed brought Cincinnati back. On third-and-10 from the Tech 39, he was nearly sacked by Tech’s James Gayle, but he launched a perfect pass to Julian in the end zone after Julian had gotten behind Tech defensive back Kyle Fuller. Tony Miliano tacked on the extra point on what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown.
“I just made a big mistake,” Fuller said. “I let the receiver [Julian] get behind me and didn’t get over in time. I take full responsibility for it.”
“I thought we were right there,” Tech mike linebacker Jack Tyler said, referring to the near sack. “I thought we even bumped him [Legaux] a little bit. He just made a heckuva throw and the receiver made a heckuva catch.”
The loss was a bitter one for the Hokies, who rallied on three different occasions to take the lead. Cincinnati grabbed a 6-0 lead after two field goals, but a 5-yard touchdown run by Thomas on fourth-and-2 from the 5 gave the Hokies a 7-6 with 2:41 left in the first half.
Cincinnati regained the lead on a 29-yard touchdown pass by Legaux to Kimbrell Thompkins with 6:59 left in the third quarter, but the Hokies scored the next 10 points – three on a field goal by Journell and seven on a 3-yard touchdown run by Michael Holmes with 8:37 left in the game.
The Bearcats took a 20-17 lead on a 76-yard touchdown pass from Legaux to Ralph David Abernathy with 7:51 remaining to set up the final couple of minutes.
Legaux paced a Bearcats attack that finished with 495 yards. He completed 19 of 42 for 376 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. Thompkins caught seven passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Thomas completed 17 of 30 for 242 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. Marcus Davis caught five passes for 101 yards, while Holmes rushed for 60 yards and the score.
Tech finished with 402 yards of offense – 330 in the second half.
“For us, we’re one up on our side of the ACC in our division,” Beamer said. “We’ve got all the ACC games to play right now. We’ve got to take the nonconference games and learn from them. I still think we can develop into a good football team.”
The Hokies return to ACC action next Saturday when they travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., for a game against North Carolina. Kickoff is slated for 12:30 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Football).