Two straight losses change Hokies goals a bunch
"I don't think we got in a rhythm as a football team," Beamer said. "When we had field position in the first half, we didn't get points. We fumbled, we didn't get a block, had some tough penalties at the end and we just didn't get into rhythm. The game just didn't fit."
North Carolina (5-3, 1-3 ACC) won 20-17 on Casey Barth's 21-yard field goal on the final play, after dominating the Hokies on defense all night.
Now, with their chances at playing for a third consecutive ACC championship almost assuredly gone, Beamer hopes his team call rally around one if his favorite statistics.
"We can still win 10 games," he said.
Virginia Tech is one of just three teams in the nation - Southern Cal and Texas are the others - to have won 10 games each of the last five seasons. It won't be easy now.
To do it, the Hokies (5-3, 3-2) need to win on the road against East Carolina, Maryland and Virginia, at home against North Carolina State and then in their bowl game.
Still smarting from their loss to the Heels, only the fifth for the Hokies in 20 televised Thursday night games, linebacker Cody Grimm said there are more pressing issues.
"What we've got to do is we've just got to play harder," he said.
The Hokies had only five penalties against the Tar Heels, but a holding call against Blake DeChristopher wiped out a 20-yard touchdown run by Ryan Williams that would have tied the game at 14 - the Hokies later settled for a field goal. And a 15-yard pass interference call against Rashad Carmichael kept a game-tying drive alive for North Carolina.
One of the Tar Heels' scoring drives covered five yards, and another only 35.
"We kind of beat ourselves," said Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who scored both touchdowns. "No disrespect to them; they played a great game, but I think we beat ourselves."
The game was also just the latest installment of "Don't Get Tyrod Hurt."
Several times this season, the Hokies have entered games as favorites and tried moving the ball without letting Taylor do what he does so well, which is run. The tactic is designed to keep Taylor healthy in the absence of a backup with any experience, but it allows teams to load the line to stop the run, and the Hokies rarely adjust well on the fly.
Taylor finished 11 of 23 for 161 yards, but ran for minus-8 yards on nine carries.
"That was important, stopping that running game and forcing them to throw the ball, which is key with a mobile quarterback like that," Tar Heels linebacker Bruce Carter said.
The Tar Heels, with speedy and athletic defensive linemen, sacked Taylor three times in the first half and hurried him several other times when he tried scrambling to buy time.
"They came in with a good scheme," he said.
Beamer can only hope his scheme to rally his team around getting 10 wins works, too.
"I think we can be a good football team," he said.