No. 11 Va. Tech stops No. 9 Miami
The 11th-ranked Hokies blew up that plan in about five minutes, harassing the Hurricanes' quarterback into early mistakes and dominating No. 9 Miami 31-7 in a downpour on Saturday.
Afterward, the player getting all the hype took all the heat.
"I take all the blame for what happened tonight," Harris said.
But the Hokies really deserved the credit for making it happen, putting pressure on the heralded sophomore that he hadn't seen in his first two games and causing him to make critical mistakes, including a fumble that led to a touchdown after his fifth snap.
Sacked only once in his first two games, Harris was hit by Dorian Porch as he looked downfield. He fumbled the ball and Porch recovered at the Hurricanes' 11. Five plays later, Ryan Williams scored from the 2 and the Hokies had a 7-0 lead after just over five minutes.
"For Porch to come off the edge and make that kind of play, a big-time play, it gave us the momentum right away and it changed the outlook of the game," said Hokies defensive end Jason Worilds, who was involved in both of the Hokies' other sacks in brutal conditions.
Miami (2-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), in the top 10 for the first since 2005, missed a chance to take a commanding lead in the Coastal Division with its third win in a row against a ranked foe. Instead, Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-0) won the game that may matter most, giving them the tiebreaking advantage against the 'Canes should they wind up tied.
The Hokies said they felt slighted by all the attention Harris and the Hurricanes received all week, and played like they wanted to remind the country they were the ACC favorites coming into the season.
"We felt like we were being a little disrespected," linebacker Cody Grimm said. "We were defending ACC champs and no one was talking about us having a chance in this game."
Virginia Tech also took the wraps off Tyrod Taylor, and he combined with Williams for most of the Hokies 272 rushing yards on the rain-soaked turf at sold-out Lane Stadium.
Williams ran for 150 yards and two TDs, and Taylor had 75 after being reluctant to run in the Hokies' nonconference games, leaving some fans so disgusted that they left early last week and missed the Hokies' stunning last-minute turnaround to beat No. 25 Nebraska 16-15.
"With him running the ball today, it opened up a lot of things," Williams said. "We were able to get down the field faster and he was also able to throw the ball effectively."
Taylor finished 4-for-9 for 98 yards, including a 48-yard TD to Jarrett Boykin.
The key was the defense, which allowed 209 yards, and got a bunch of good bounces.
Harris finished 9-for-25 for 150 yards with an interception early in the fourth quarter that led to the game-clinching touchdown, but wasn't the only problem for the Hurricanes.
Jimmy Graham dropped two passes on a drive into Virginia Tech territory in the third quarter when they had closed to within 21-7 and had momentum on their side. They had to go for it on fourth-and-13 from the 33, and Harris' pass to Dedrick Epps went for nine yards.
"We had the momentum," Harris said of the second drive in the second half. The first had taken just five plays to Javarris James' 1-yard touchdown run. "We just got stalled."
Earlier, a missed blocking assignment allowed the Hokies to block a punt for a TD.
"Playing at a tough place like this, when they're feeling good about themselves like they were, it's a hard thing to bounce back from," Miami offensive tackle Jason Fox said.
The good bounces were critical, too, because the Hokies benefited every time.
They muffed one punt early in the first quarter and had another glance off a player's leg deep in their own territory, but recovered both times. They also botched a snap on a punt of their own, giving Miami possession at the Tech 23, but a false start penalty, a rush for a loss of 2 and a sack by Worilds for minus-9 forced the Hurricanes to punt it away.