Hokies clinch ACC's Coastal Division title
Virginia Tech had one bad week this season. The Hokies have been perfect in all others.
Their reward is another shot at an Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
Ryan Williams ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns, including a career-long 84-yarder with 13:24 remaining, as No. 14 Virginia Tech beat No. 24 Miami 31-17 on Saturday to clinch the ACC's Coastal Division title. The Hokies (9-2, 7-0) won their ninth straight, the program's longest streak since 1999, and will get an opportunity to play their way into the Orange Bowl in Miami's home stadium Jan. 3.
''We've been hearing about this all week,'' Williams said. ''To clinch the division ... I mean, it feels great. Words can't describe it.''
Tyrod Taylor's 18-yard keeper with 6:25 left sealed it for Virginia Tech, which beat Miami for the 11th time in 16 meetings.
Danny Coale added four catches for 83 yards and a touchdown for the Hokies, who gave up 464 yards but intercepted Miami freshman quarterback Stephen Morris three times in the final 9 minutes.
Lamar Miller rushed for a career-best 163 yards and a touchdown for Miami (7-4, 5-3), which has not won the ACC since joining in 2004.
''We had opportunities and couldn't capitalize on it,'' Miami coach Randy Shannon said. ''So that's the nut of it. And that's the way the game went. The guys played hard. They were into it. But like anything, you can't turn the ball over against Virginia Tech.''
Miami had six turnovers, its most since Nov. 13, 1999 - also against Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech opened the season with a loss on Labor Day to Boise State, then got stunned five days later against lower-division James Madison -- at home, no less -- in a game that seemed to suggest the Hokies weren't going to be factors in the ACC.
Next week against Virginia, the Hokies will have a chance to be the first team to go unbeaten in the ACC since Florida State in 2000.
''You come back from two, I say devastating, losses within a week ... I don't think you come back from that unless you have really good people on your football team and really good people leading your football team,'' Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. ''I think that's very obvious and very evident. They've hung in there and kept battling and somehow we found a way to win together.''
For the second straight year, it was Williams doing the damage to Miami.
He ran for 150 yards and two scores last season when Virginia Tech dismantled the Hurricanes 31-7 in Blacksburg, but was kept relatively in check until the fourth quarter Saturday.
Then on his first touch of the final period, Williams went up the middle -- and gone.
A one-play drive for 84 yards gave the Hokies the lead for good, and after Jayron Hosley -- a South Florida native -- intercepted Morris with 9:01 left, the Hokies were in total control. Taylor ensured he would be part of his third win in four tries against Miami 2 1/2 minutes later, then threw up the Hurricanes ''U'' symbol in celebration.
He got flagged for 15 yards, but it didn't matter.
''We knew we needed to win one of our last two,'' Taylor said. ''But like Coach said, 'Don't put off what you can do today until tomorrow.' So we just went out and tried to handle business today, and that's what we did.''
Morris completed 15 of 33 passes for 202 yards for Miami, and Leonard Hankerson caught six of those throws for 79 yards and his 12th touchdown of the year, breaking Michael Irvin's single-season record set for the Hurricanes in 1986.
''Right now, it doesn't mean anything,'' Hankerson said. ''If it was a 'W' it'd have been different.''
Coale's 43-yard touchdown catch with 5:32 left in the third - on blown coverage by Miami -- gave Virginia Tech a 17-10 lead. The Hurricanes tied it on Miller's 4-yard run less than 2 minutes later, but it was all Hokies the rest of the way.
''We didn't make enough plays to come out and finish the game off,'' Hankerson said.
Virginia Tech withstood all the big hits Miami had to offer.
On one first-half series, Hokies receiver Marcus Davis was down for about four minutes, shaken up after getting gang-tackled by four converging Miami defenders; Taylor was sidelined for one play after getting drilled by Miami linebacker Colin McCarthy; Coale's helmet was knocked off as he made a 24-yard catch; and right guard James Brooks had his helmet ripped off two plays later.
Not only did Virginia Tech take all those shots, the Hokies landed the blow that mattered most in that series -- Williams' 14-yard run with 51 seconds left in the first tied the game at 7-7, capping a 12-play, 88-yard drive that began after a fourth-down fumble by Miami.
That was just one of the mistakes that set the tone, and Virginia Tech was all too happy to take advantage.
''It's heartache,'' Shannon said.