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Great Games Between Tech and Miami
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #400, September 25, 2009
Miami and Virginia Tech have played in some great games through the years. Some have come down to the final play of the game, and there have been many memorable moments. It's hard to rank the best games, but we'll give it a shot this week. Here are the Top 5 Virginia Tech-Miami games of the Beamer Bowl Era.
Obviously some good games had to be left off the list, such as 1997, 2006 and 2008. However, that's our Top 5, and here's a quick recap of each game.
#5 - 2004 - Virginia Tech 16, Miami 10
Virginia Tech knocked off Miami 16-10 in 2004 to clinch the ACC Championship in their first season in the conference. Bryan Randall's 39 yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal in the fourth quarter was the game-winner, and the Tech defensive line batted down the last three passes thrown by Miami quarterback Brock Berlin.
The Hokies never trailed in this game. Jeff King scored a touchdown early to give Tech a 7-0 lead, though the game was eventually tied at 10-10. That set up Randall's pass to Royal in the fourth quarter, and Miami took over on their own 12 with 1:14 remaining, down 16-10.
Berlin's first pass was completed to Sinorice Moss for eight yards, but his second and third down passes were batted down by defensive tackle Jim Davis. Darryl Tapp finished off the 'Canes by batting away Berlin's fourth down pass, and the Hokies were on their way to the Sugar Bowl.
#4 - 2001 - Miami 26, Virginia Tech 24
This is one of the most memorable games in Virginia Tech history, as well as one of the most painful ones. Miami was the #1 team in the country, and the Hokies almost knocked them off. However, five turnovers by quarterback Grant Noel, and a dropped two-point conversion by wide receiver Ernest Wilford, doomed Tech to defeat.
It was a heroic effort by the Hokies against what some people consider the most talented college football team of all time. That Miami team featured stars such as Ken Dorsey, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Najeh Davenport, Jeremy Shockey, Andre Johnson, D.J. Williams, Jonathan Vilma, Ed Reed, Phillip Buchanon, Vince Wilfork, and a host of others.
Tech trailed 20-3 at halftime, but rallied to make the score 26-18 in the fourth quarter. Eric Green blocked a punt which Brandon Manning returned for a touchdown to make the score 26-24, but Wilford dropped Noel's two-point conversion pass, and the 'Canes held on.
#3 - 1996 - Virginia Tech 21, Miami 7
Tech's 14-point win doesn't illustrate how great this game was. Miami quarterback Ryan Clement torched the Hokies for most of the day, going 17-of-26 for 202 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions. However, he was knocked out of the game early in the fourth quarter, and Scott Covington entered the game. Covington and the Miami offense moved the football, but he threw two costly interceptions to hand the Hokies the win.
The first came with Tech leading 14-7, and Miami knocking at the door. The 'Canes had the ball at the Tech 8, and they faced fourth and 4. Covington's pass was intercepted by Keion Carpenter and returned 100 yards for a touchdown, putting the Hokies up 21-7 with 1:54 left.
Covington took Miami down the field again, but he was intercepted in the end zone for the second consecutive drive, this time by Torrian Gray. The Hokies held on for the win, and went on to finish the regular season 10-1.
#2 - 1995 - Virginia Tech 13, Miami 7
You all know the story of this game. The Hokies started the 1995 season 0-2 with home losses to Boston College and Cincinnati. Tech had never beaten the 'Canes, but they put a whipping on them that Saturday in Lane Stadium. Tech rushed for 300 yards as a team, averaging 6.1 yards per carry in the process. Dwayne Thomas ran for 165 yards, and Ken Oxendine added 82.
The game was close, with Miami facing 4th and 20 from the Tech 34 to end the game. However, Ryan Clement's pass to Yatil Green fell incomplete. The game never should have been that close. Tech placekicker Atle Larsen missed three field goals and had another one blocked, and normally reliable wide receiver Bryan Still dropped an easy touchdown pass from Jim Druckenmiller.
The Hokies capitalized on their big win. They went on to win the Big East and finish 10-2, with a 28-10 victory over Texas in the Sugar Bowl.
#1 - 1998 - Virginia Tech 27, Miami 20 (Overtime)
Virginia Tech trailed 13-3 in the second quarter, but rallied to force overtime, and they eventually left the Orange Bowl with a 27-20 win. Al Clark injured his foot during the game, but he stayed in to throw the game-winning 24 yard touchdown pass to Ricky Hall in overtime. Considering Clark had to miss the next several games due to the injury, it was one of the most courageous performances by a quarterback in Tech history.
The Hokies knocked off a Miami team that featured the following players: Edgerrin James, James Jackson, Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss, Dan Morgan, Nate Webster, Ed Reed, Damione Lewis, Mike Rumph, among others. All of those players went on to the NFL, and some are still there.
Defensively, Corey Moore dominated the game for Tech. He finished with team highs in tackles (8), tackles for loss (4.5) and sacks (2.5).
More on Moore
At that point Moore was a first-year starter who had just one sack in the first two games of the season. He was an unknown. After the Miami game, Moore went on to become one of the greatest players in school history. The undersized defensive end always enjoyed good games against the Miami Hurricanes.
Tomorrow, Corey Moore will return to Lane Stadium for his first football game since the 1999 season. His jersey will be retired in a pre-game ceremony. Perhaps his presence will bring a little karma to the Tech defense, which is facing a high-powered Miami offense led by quarterback Jacory Harris.
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