What a game! What a bounce back for Logan Thomas and the offense after a terrible showing against Clemson the previous week. While allowing Miami 35 points the Hokies found a way to win this game 38-35. It became clear towards the end that Miami's gigantic offensive line at a whopping 313 lbs average was causing the Hokies some trouble as Miami was able to run on the Hokies with ease in the late minutes of the game. Antoine Hopkins presence was definitely missed.
The first half of the game was a clinic. Thomas and the offense dominated the Miami defense. The defense was able to contain Lamar Miller to just 20 yards. Miami's only touchdown came after a big play in which Jacory Harris hit Allen Hurns for 41-yards.
First, Tech is very prone to letting go a few big plays in each game. This is a natural trade off of having a defense that is as aggressive as Bud Foster's unit. Save for this one play, it looked as if the Hokies were just going to roll over the Hurricanes.
Second, that was not a catch. The call on the field was incomplete and there was no indisputable evidence that the receiver's right foot was on the ground. In fact, the video confirmed that it was not on the ground. Also, the next play, the touchdown, was also not a catch. The ball was being juggled and fought for as Hurns and Antone Exum slid out of bounds. That aside, the Hokies were up 21-7at the end of the half.
Thomas went 23-25 for 310 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran in two touchdowns. This might have been the best performance by any Virginia Tech quarterback... ever. Thomas was composed and calm in the pocket. Miami was rarely able to pressure him and he went into the locker room with a virtually clean uniform. The only blemish on this near perfect game was a fumble that led to the Hurricanes touchdown drive in the first half. He would also fumble in the opening drive of the second half after a near sack. He clearly was careless with the ball -- holding the ball low and behind him. However, OT Andrew Lanier earns himself a stat by picking up the ball and gaining two yards.
Thomas hit seven different receivers including TE Chris Drager who caught two passes which doubled his total for the season. Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale shined with 120 and 91 yards receiving respectively. Each scored a touchdown as well.
David Wilson had another 100+ yard game with 128 yards on the ground on 23 carries.This was his fifth triple digit game bringing him to 767 yards. This puts him at fourth overall in FBS play.
The second half started with a stalled Hokie possession. This is important for one reason. The Hokies had to punt and the punter to take the field was none other than true freshman Michael Branthover. Branthover left the field to a standing ovation after booting it 52 yards. Let's not rehash the troubles Tech has had in the punting game, but rather lets revel in the promise Branthover showed.
The next Miami touchdown came on another big play. Eddie Whitley went for the ball and missed. Travis Benjamin took the ball for a 78-yard touchdown. Once again, Tech's tendency to gamble bit them. However, had Whitley been a split second earlier, it would have 6 points in the other direction.
After tacking on 3 more points the Hokies were up 24-14. The next Miami series was a key series. The Hurricanes spent most of the drive on the ground. Pushing the defensive line back as Miller and Mike James traded off rushes and moved steadily down field. The series took 5 1/2 minutes off the clock, but it was the first hint that the defensive line was winded and struggling without Hopkins.
The Hurricanes scored but what hurt more than that was the offense came out and scored on the very first play from scrimmage. Thomas hit Boykin for a 60-yard touchdown. This was exactly what the defense didn't need. I'm all for racking up points but after being pushed around on the previous drive, the defense was not going to be able to play well. Lamar Miller dragged tired Hokies down field on the first play for 37 yards. He did it again for 22 yards. Harris and the Canes would score and score again after the Hokie offense stalled for a 3 and out. The offense just did not give the defense time to rest and the Hokies now found themselves down 35-31 with less than 3 minutes to go in the game.
At this point, that familiar feeling of dread set in. You know the feeling. Here we were again. We knew that the offense has been playing well, but the last few drives weren't looking good. But Thomas and the offense didn't let us down. With the ball set at 4th and 1, Thomas on the keeper trotted untouched 19 yards into the end zone.
The only complaint we could possibly have with this drive is that they scored too quickly. With the defense as tired as they were, the 56 seconds left on the clock and all three time outs, Harris would have plenty of time. Miami did make a huge mistake. With that much time, they easily could have given the ball to Miller for a few rushes. The Hokies had not been able to stop him and it likely would have caught the Hokies off balance. Instead, the defense stepped up and held their ground. Time expired and the Hokies won!
One last thing. I would like to send a special shout out to the fans and the staff controlling the PA. To the PA guys, well done playing Enter Sandman during the timeout with 5 seconds to go. To the fans, holy moly were you loud. Announcers Craig James and Mike Patrick were speechless and all they could say is "Look at this. This is just spectacular... These people are losing their minds."
Lose your mind every week Hokies! Every week!