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November 9, 2013

Luck, Turnovers Help VT In Win

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - It's been a while since Virginia Tech has had a big win. Two years ago, the Hokies won at Virginia, then ranked No. 24 in the AP Poll.

Tonight, they finally got another one.

Using plenty of luck and better protection of the football, even in rain and swirling wind, Virginia Tech scored its biggest win of the season, 42-24 at Miami, No. 11 in the BCS rankings. And senior quarterback Logan Thomas became the Hokies' all-time leader in career touchdowns, with 49, throwing for 366 yards and two touchdowns in the process.

"You stay in this game long enough, they're gonna bounce against you some and they're gonna bounce for you some," coach Frank Beamer said. "A couple bounced for us tonight, that's for sure. But I thought it was great effort to get there. If you don't have great effort, it doesn't make any difference if the ball bounces our way or not."

But it didn't start out that way, as Miami got going quickly. Two plays, to be exact. Following a punt on Virginia Tech's opening drive, on the Hurricanes' second offensive play of the game, senior quarterback Stephen Morris hit freshman wide receiver Stacy Coley for an 81-yard touchdown pass. Coley was untouched, as a number of Hokies were blocked out of the play.

Virginia Tech was snuffed again on its ensuing drive, but caught a big break on a punt. Coley fumbled, as the ball was pushed out by punter A.J. Hughes and recovered by senior Tariq Edmunds at the Hokies' 45 yard-line.

"I feel like after that play, everything went in the right direction," Hughes said. "It was a big turning point."

With new life, Virginia Tech marched down the field, buoyed by a 24-yard pass to senior wide receiver D.J. Coles. Redshirt freshman running back Trey Edmunds then bounced outside and cut back inside at the goal line on a 10-yard run to tie the game at seven with 7:37 left in the first quarter.

The luck continued on the ensuing kickoff as Miami fumbled again. Derek Dinardo forced and recovered a fumble, putting the Hokies at midfield. Thanks in large part to an 18-yard run by Thomas, Virginia Tech got the lead on a two-yard touchdown run by Edmunds to put the Hokies up 14-7 with 5:12 left in the first quarter.

Break number three for Virginia Tech came with 13:30 left in the second quarter. Senior punter Pat O'Donnell's knee hit the ground at his own 17 yard-line. Edmunds then rushed 13 yards before running for a four-yard touchdown to give the Hokies a commanding 21-7 lead with 13:01 left before halftime.

But Virginia Tech didn't receive all of the luck. Miami senior wide receiver Allen Hurns hauled in a 27-yard pass against the sideline, that after review, was ruled a catch to the one yard-line. Two plays later, sophomore running back Dallas Crawford punched in a two-yard touchdown run with 8:30 left in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 21-14.

The Hokies though, retook the momentum on the following drive, which took nine plays and went 75 yards in 5:32. A week after a breakout game at Boston College, redshirt freshman Joshua Stanford did it again. On a 32-yard touchdown catch from Thomas, Stanford caught the ball in the middle of the field, cut right, left and down the sideline, evading tackles to give Virginia Tech a 28-14 advantage with 2:58 left before halftime.

With the touchdown, Thomas became the Hokies' all-time leader in career touchdowns. It was also the first in Stanford's career.

A bit of luck came back to Virginia Tech in the third quarter, as what looked like a possible touchdown catch by Miami was dropped. Instead, the Hurricanes settled for a 49-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Matt Goudis with 6:02 left in the third quarter to make the score 28-17.

Luck still was on the Hokies' side though. On the ensuing drive, junior wide receiver Willie Byrn made a catch on a crossing pattern, cut inside and was loose for a 48-yard catch. But Byrn had the ball punched out of his grasp at the two yard-line. Luckily, sophomore wide receiver Demitri Knowles was there to recover the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

The Hurricanes were quick to respond though and in a big way. Just two plays into their ensuing drive, with 1:31 left in the third quarter, Morris found senior Allen Hurns for an 84-yard touchdown strike that cut the lead for Virginia Tech to 35-24.

Of course, that didn't mean the Hokies didn't have an answer. Edmunds found the end zone for a fourth time to cap a 10-play, 75-yard drive on a one-yard touchdown with 11:32 to play. That put Virginia Tech up 42-24 and made Edmunds the first Hokie with four touchdowns in a game since Ryan Williams rushed for four against Virginia in 2009. And it also gave the Hokies more than enough to finish out the game with the win.

"I think this one is most important," Thomas said. "Every win is a big win, but this one especially is satisfying for the way that we came out and played, came out and played our hearts out. We ran the ball effectively, threw the ball effectively. We came out with the mentality to dominate and we did so."

After dropping two in a row to Duke and Boston College, Virginia Tech is now squarely back in the hunt for the coastal division title and a spot in the ACC championship game. Of course, they'll need to win out and for the Blue Devils to falter in one of their three remaining games.

But with lady luck, you never know how a game will turn out.

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