Tyrel Wilson #66 of the Virginia Tech Hokies tackles Stephen Morris #17 of the Miami Hurricanes as he runs with the ball on Thursday at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Stephen Morris threw for two early touchdowns, both set up by Virginia Tech special-teams miscues, and Miami took a step forward in the chase for the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division title by beating the Hokies 30-12 on Thursday night.
Duke Johnson had a 7-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and finished with 217 all-purpose yards for the Hurricanes (5-4, 4-2), who snapped a three-game slide.
Logan Thomas had a 73-yard scoring run on a quarterback draw for Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3), which lost to Miami for just the third time in the last 10 meetings. The loss also ensures the Hokies' streak of eight straight 10-win seasons will end this year.
The win puts Miami a half-game ahead of Duke and North Carolina in the Coastal race, though the Tar Heels are ineligible for postseason play, including the ACC title game.
The Hokies and Hurricanes are two of the best teams on Thursday night — a combined 34-8 record entering the game, Virginia Tech with a 19-5 mark, Miami 15-3.
And the Hokies were 25-2 in ACC games played in November.
Now, they're 25-3, all three losses coming to Miami, and the Hokies had plenty of chances in this one.
Virginia Tech outgained Miami 421-347, ran 82 plays to the Hurricanes' 58, and still lost. A blocked punt led to one Miami touchdown, a big return by Johnson set up another, and that was about all the offense for the Hurricanes.
Somehow, it was pretty much all Miami needed.
Thomas was 19 for 37 for 199 yards and two interceptions for the Hokies, and rushed 22 times for 124 yards. Morris completed 13 of 28 passes for 170 yards.
For years, special teams were an absolute strength of Frank Beamer's teams at Virginia Tech — so much so, they earned the moniker "Beamer Ball." But on Thursday, not only did the Hokies allow the blocked punt (a play where Virginia Tech's A.J. Hughes mishandled the snap before trying to get the kick away) and an 81-yard return by Johnson, but kicker Cody Journell also missed a field goal and a point-after attempt.
And eventually, Miami broke through.
The Hurricanes failed to convert any of their first nine third-down attempts, but when Morris connected with Rashawn Scott for 26 yards in the fourth quarter, Miami was in business. Five plays later, Johnson plowed just across the goal line, putting Miami — clad in an all-orange ensemble, a break from the norm — up by 15.
The first quarter set the tone for everything. Virginia Tech ran 26 plays to Miami's seven, outgained the Hurricanes 129-36 and had its offense was on the field for all but 2:29 of the period — and trailed 14-3.
Miami's two touchdown drives were a combined 35 yards, lasting four plays. Gabe Terry's blocked punt started a drive that ended with Morris finding Allen Hurns with a 16-yard scoring pass, and the long return by Johnson led to Morris hitting Mike James for another touchdown, also from 16 yards out.