MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — A fumbled punt return. A fumbled kickoff return. A punting miscue.
Trey Edmunds and Virginia Tech cashed in on each of those massive Miami blunders, and all of a sudden, the Hokies very much look like a team capable of winning yet another Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title.
Edmunds ran for four touchdowns, the first three of them set up by Miami mistakes, and Virginia Tech knocked off the 14th-ranked Hurricanes 42-24 on Saturday night, handing Miami its second straight loss.
“We ran the ball really hard, had some holes to run in . one of our better offensive performances in a while,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “On defense, we played well, had a couple long plays. This was a great win for us.”
Edmunds had scoring runs of 10, 2, 4 and 1 yards for the Hokies (7-3, 4-2 ACC). Logan Thomas completed 25 of 31 passes for 366 yards, giving him consecutive games of 300 yards or more for the first time in his Virginia Tech career, and the Hokies dominated in all sorts of categories.
They outgained Miami 549-352, piled up 26 first downs to Miami’s 12, went 8 for 14 on third downs compared with a 3-for-12 showing by the Hurricanes, and held the ball for nearly a 2-to-1 margin.
Most importantly, every time Miami gave Virginia Tech a gift, the Hokies made them pay. Miami wore new jerseys with the phrase “Deserve Victory” — a favorite of coach Al Golden’s — stitched along the collar.
“Really disappointed,” Golden said. “We didn’t deserve to win.”
Stephen Morris completed 16 of 29 passes for 324 yards for Miami (7-2, 3-2), which saw its seven-game home winning streak snapped and still hasn’t beaten Virginia Tech consecutive times since 2001 and 2002. Morris had an 81-yard touchdown pass to Stacy Coley and an 84-yarder to Allen Hurns, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
“Like I was telling the team in the locker room, it’s not over for us,” Morris said. “We’ve got a lot to still work for.”
Virginia Tech held Miami to 28 rushing yards.
The win turns the ACC’s Coastal Division into a muddled mess, with Georgia Tech at 5-2 in conference play, Virginia Tech a half-game back (but owning the tiebreaker over the Yellow Jackets), Miami and Duke at 3-2, North Carolina at 3-3 and Pittsburgh at 2-3.
Florida State has already clinched the Atlantic Division title and spot in the ACC title game on Dec. 7.
“We’re back in there,” Beamer said. “We’ve got a shot.”
Joshua Stanford (107) and Willie Byrn (105) both had 100-yard receiving nights for Virginia Tech, helping carve a Miami defense that has allowed 1,066 yards in its last two games — both blowout losses.
Winning games with help of strong special teams play is nothing new for the Hokies. After all, it’s not called “Beamer Ball” for nothing.
But the Hurricanes were making it too easy for Virginia Tech.
After the Hurricanes took a 7-0 lead on the Morris-to-Coley completion, Miami was primed to get the ball back in Virginia Tech territory following a punt. But Coley fumbled it away at the Hokies’ 45 — after getting hit by punter A.J. Hughes, no less. And five plays later, Edmunds scored his first of the night to tie the game.
Rain was falling steadily. The mistakes, from the Miami side, started coming at deluge rates.
The ensuing kickoff was eerily similar to the punt return, with things going from great to dreadful for Miami in the blink of an eye. Artie Burns fumbled the kickoff return near midfield, Edmunds scored five plays later once again, and the Hokies had the lead. It became 21-7 not long after the third Miami blunder, this one coming when punter Pat O’Donnell’s knee was on the ground as he fielded a low snap at the Miami 17.
“Can’t let them get 21 points like that,” Golden said. “Inexcusable.”
Playing without running back Duke Johnson, out for the season with a broken right ankle, Miami struggled offensively. Take away the two long touchdown passes, and the Hurricanes managed only 3.7 yards per play the rest of the night.
Plus, the Hokies never made the mistake that Miami would have needed.
Virginia Tech converted on a third-and-17 late in the half, when Stanford made three Hurricanes miss — two had a chance at him well short of a first down — on the way to a 32-yard scoring grab that made it 28-14.
“Just thrilled the way we played offensively,” Thomas said. “They did a great job after the catch. … I think every win is a big win but tonight is especially satisfying.”
A third-and-12 play at midfield in the third quarter summed up the night.
Virginia Tech took a time-out to keep Thomas, whose helmet was knocked off on the previous play, on the field. He found a wide-open Willie Byrn for a first down — and when Miami’s Ladarius Gunter punched the ball away around the 5, it bounded into the end zone, only to be recovered by Demitri Knowles for a 35-17 lead.