MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas accounted for 323 total yards, but the Hokies made too many mistakes and couldn’t capitalize on opportunities, and that cost them in a 30-12 loss to Miami in an ACC game played at Sun Life Stadium on Thursday night.
With the loss, the Hokies fell to 4-5 overall on the season, 2-3 in the ACC. Miami moved to 5-4 overall, 4-2 in the ACC, and snapped a three-game losing streak to the Hokies.
Tech lost despite holding a huge advantage in yardage (421-347), time of possession (34:21) and plays (82-58). But turnovers in the red zone – one in each half – a missed field goal and several breakdowns in special teams turned out to be the Hokies’ undoing.
“We didn’t produce points, and points are the name of the game,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “We turned the ball over in the red zone twice. It’s execution. Defensively, we give up a couple of long plays. It’s execution. We get a punt blocked. It’s execution. On kickoff coverage, we get a guy out of position and one pops on us. It’s execution.
“For this football team, it hurts because we’re so close. I don’t think it’s effort. We’ve just got to make plays.”
Miami jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter largely because of a couple of Tech special teams mistakes. First, Miami’s Rayshawn Jenkins blocked a punt by Tech’s A.J. Hughes and Gabriel Terry recovered for the ’Canes at the Tech 16. That led to a 16-yard touchdown pass by Miami quarterback Stephen Morris to Allen Hurns that gave the ’Canes a 7-0 lead.
Then, after a field goal by Tech’s Cody Journell, Miami’s Duke Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards to the Tech 19. Two plays later, Morris found Mike James for a 16-yard touchdown that built the ’Canes lead to 14-3 with 1:15 left in the first quarter.
The Hokies cut the lead to 14-9 on a career-long 73-yard touchdown run by Thomas (Journell missed the extra point) with 10:39 left in the first half. But Miami’s Jake Wieclaw hit field goals on back-to-back possessions to give the ’Canes a 20-9 lead. Journell’s field goal at the buzzer made the score 20-12 at the break.
Tech appeared to get things headed in the right direction in the second half. The Hokies drove into Miami territory on three straight possessions spanning the third quarter and held the ’Canes to just 3 yards of offense in the third.
But Thomas fumbled on third-and-goal from the 1, and Miami took over, killing one drive. Journell missed a 47-yard field goal on another of those drives, and on the final drive, Tech turned the ball over on downs after Thomas over-threw a wide open Joey Phillips on fourth-and-1 from the Miami 39.
Two possessions later, Miami put the game away, marching 69 yards and taking a 27-12 lead on Duke Johnson’s 7-yard touchdown run with 7:38 remaining. Miami later added a field goal to account for the final margin.
Despite turning the ball over three times, Thomas paced Tech’s offensive attack. He rushed for a career-high 124 yards, and he completed 19 of 37 for 199 yards, with two interceptions.
“He had about three plays that he’d like to have back,” Beamer said. “But that could probably be said about just about everyone on our football team. But you don’t get them back. You’ve got to make them when you’ve got a chance.”
Tech now needs to win two of its final three games to become bowl eligible. The stretch starts next Thursday night when the Hokies take on nationally ranked Florida State – arguably the best team in the ACC – in Blacksburg. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
“I think the greatest thing you can play for, when it’s all said and done, is pride,” Beamer said. “When it looks tough, that’s when you really see what people are made of, and things are really tough right now. We’ve got the best team in the ACC coming next Thursday and we just had a tough loss.
“So things are tough. But pride, and getting to a bowl game, we’ve still got that to play for.”
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