ACC Title Slips Out of Reach as Canes Lose To Va. Tech; Tie-Breaker Could Determine Champion

Mike Ehrmann

On a rainy night in Miami Gardens the Hurricanes lost to their Coastal Division rivals Virginia Tech and no longer control their own destiny. A first-ever appearance in the ACC title game appears unlikely as Duke is actually in the drivers seat as they are tied with Virginia Tech, but would prevail in the tie breaker as they defeated VT last week. In order for Duke to go, they would have to beat the Hurricanes at home next week. More than likely, Va. Tech will represent the Coastal Division. Miami will no doubt settle for a lesser bowl that they never thought they would have to take.

The University of Miami all but watched its chances for a rematch with Florida State and a shot at the ACC title disappear Saturday night as they lost to Virginia Tech 42-24 before a rain-soaked crowd at Sun-Life Stadium.

The Canes fumbled twice in the return game and gave Tech the ball at the Miami 17 when punter Pat O'Donnell, who was chasing a low snap, touched his knee to the ground with the ball.  The play was then called dead.

"There is no excuse. It has got to get better," Miami coach Al Golden said after the loss. "It is my responsibility and I will get it fixed."  Golden had no comments to the media after the game and he went right into taking questions.  That was un-Golden like.  It was evident that the mistakes were wearing down upon him.

"I am open to questions, please," Golden said.

Tech running back Trey Edmunds scored four touchdowns to pace the Hokies.  Logan Thomas was flawless and after throwing four interceptions last week in a loss to Duke, he pitched an almost perfect game picking a defense apart that could not get off the field long enough to catch its breath.

Despite the loss, Miami is still tied with Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Duke for the lead in the Coastal Division, but Miami would lose to Virginia Tech in a tie breaker based upon the fact that VT beat the Hurricanes Saturday night.  In the event that VT loses to either Maryland or Duke and Miami wins out, they would still have an outside shot at the title. However, a lot of things have to happen and it does not look good for Miami (7-2, 3-2).  This was Miami's second consecutive loss.

"There is still a lot of football left to be played," Golden said. "We have to come in tomorrow and make things right for the program to move forward."

Aside from two long UM touchdowns, the Canes could not do anything right.  They could not run the ball and could not pass the ball with any consistency.  Herb Waters dropped three consecutive Stephen Morris, including one in the end zone in the third quarter that would have made it a four point game at the time.

"We had too many unforced errors tonight. We did not take care of the football,," Golden said. "We cannot continue to do that."

Morris, who threw a long touchdown in the third quarter to Hurns, was listening to chants of "Ryan Williams" by the crowd that braved the weather and actually stayed for the game.  Miami spent too many plays targeting Waters who could not make the big catch when needed.

The backfield by committee with Dallas Crawford, Gus Edwards and Maurice Hagens did not bring any success at all.  Crawford was in negative yardage until a 35-yard jaunt in the third quarter.  Twice Miami had third and one and could not convert.

The Canes wasted no time getting their offense in gear.  On the second play from scrimmage Morris hit Coley with a bubble screen that Coley danced with all the way to the end zone.  After faking out two Hokie defenders, Coley turned on the afterburners and jetted to the house.  Miami had the ball for two plays, took less than a minute off the clock and led 7-0 with 11:35 to play in the first quarter.  The pass play was the longest of the young Mr. Coley's career.

Coley would commit the Canes first blunder the next time he touched the ball as he fumbled a punt on the Hokie 46 which VT recovered.  Coley made a spectacular return, but could not hold on to the football as he was looking to gain additional yardage.

"I don't want to hear anyone say that we missed a block or something like that," Golden said. "We executed the plays and had returns of 30 and 50 yards.  We just put the ball on the ground.  We did not protect the football."

Virginia Tech made the Canes pay.

Thomas engineered a five-play 54 yard drive that saw Edmunds score on a 14 yard sweep around the left side.He went in virtually untouched.  With 7:37 to play in the quarter, the score was tied at 7-7.

Artie Burns took the kickoff and proceeded to make a nice run and then turn the ball over the Tech on a fumble. Burns carried the ball like a loaf of bread and he just simply dropped it on the 49 yard line.

Tech made Miami pay again as Edmunds scored his second touchdown of the night on a two-yard plunge.  With the extra point, the Hokies took a 14-7 lead with 5:12 to play in the first quarter. The five-play drive once again proved that when the Hurricanes turn the ball over, bad things happen.

On the next kickoff the crowd roared with approval as Corn Elder made an appearance and took Coley's spot on special teams and returned the ball to the UM 40 without putting it on the ground.

The Canes made another special teams blunder to start the second quarter as O'Donnell bent down to pick up a bad snap that was rolled back to him and his knee touched the ground.  The ball was turned over to the Hokies on the Miami 17 yard line.  It went from bad to worse for Miami, who in the first half, could not get out of their own way.

Edmunds made them pay again with a four-yard touchdown.  The three-play 17-yard drive made the score 21-7 with 13:01 to play in the first half.

Miami made the score 21-14 as Crawford scored from two yards out.  The nine play drive was highlighted by a Morris pass to Hurns that was questionable as to whether Hurns had at least one foot in bounds before hitting the pylon.  Miami won the call and the ball was spotted at the one yard line.  Miami used a ball control offense to get the touchdown.  The drive lasted 4:31.

Virginia Tech got the ball on the next drive on their own 25 and moved 75 yards nine plays and scored in 5:32 as Thomas hit Joshua Stanford with a 32 yard touchdown on third and 17.  Three UM defenders had a chance to make the tackle, but did not.

"That was unbelievable," Golden said. "It was a killer. We had to make a play there and we didn't. It was an egregious third down that we gave up right there."

The first half ended with Miami trailing 28-14.  Tech scored 21 points off of Miami miscues.  The last time VT scored 28 points in a half was against Appalachian State in the 2008 season.

"That was an excellent defense that we played tonight," Golden said. "To spot them 21 points, you just cannot do that. It was an uphill battle."

Miami will travel to Duke to face a Blue Devils team that demolished this same Virginia Tech team last week.

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