Miami takes Coastal lead, tops Virginia Tech 30-12

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Miami takes Coastal lead, tops Virginia Tech 30-12

MIAMI (AP) -- 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.

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Jerod Evans said that he needed to clean up some things during Virginia Tech's upcoming off week.

The Hokies' fan base may be wondering what exactly that is. His play so far has been sparkling.

Evans, the Hokies' starting quarterback, threw three touchdown passes and rushed for one to lift Virginia Tech over East Carolina 54-17 on Saturday.

The Hokies (3-1) scored on their final five possessions of the first half, including all four of their second-quarter possessions, to overwhelm East Carolina (2-2) and snap a two-game losing streak to the Pirates.

Evans completed 13 of 20 passes for a career-best 282 yards and rushed for a career-best 97 more. He has thrown at least three touchdown passes in three of the Hokies' first four games and is completing 67 percent of his passes.

"I missed a couple of things here and there," Evans said. "I have a lot of things that I can get better at for sure."

Evans entered the game with an ACC-best 10 touchdown passes this season. Of more importance to Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente, he has thrown just one interception.

"I think he's pretty good," Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said of Evans. "He's been judicious with the ball and he's going to the right place most of the time. He's been pretty efficient."

Following a punt return for a touchdown by Greg Stroman and a touchdown run by Marshawn Williams that gave the Hokies a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, Evans threw touchdown passes of 24 yards to Isaiah Ford, 13 yards to Travon McMillian and 55 yards to Cam Phillips. That final score gave the Hokies a 38-0 halftime lead.

ECU quarterback Philip Nelson had 362 yards passing and two touchdown tosses to Jimmy Williams. The Pirates had 443 yards of offense, but committed three special teams mistakes, fumbled once and were sacked six times.

"We studied the film well and they had a lot of keys when they were sliding the protection," said Ken Ekanem, who had two of the Hokies' six sacks. "We had a lot of indicators and we knew when someone was going to be left one-on-one. We look forward to one-on-one matchups and pride ourselves on winning those. We did a good job of that today."

THE TAKEAWAY

EAST CAROLINA: Coming off a 20-15 loss at South Carolina and playing its third consecutive game against a Power 5 opponent, the Pirates looked a step slow and out of sorts from the opening kick. They went three-and-out on five first-half possessions. The Pirates hope to regroup now that they have finished the non-conference portion of their schedule.

"That was clearly the best football team that we have played," ECU coach Scottie Montgomery said. "The most physical. The biggest. The fastest. The strongest. The smartest. I thought they competed well in their scheme. They played great emotional football. They leaned on their crowd. They played a complete football game -- as complete as it gets."

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies dominated on special teams, scoring three touchdowns as a result of those units. Greg Stroman scored on an 87-yard punt return, and Cam Phillips blocked a punt that led to an Evans touchdown pass to Travon McMillian. A sack of ECU punter Worth Gregory in the fourth quarter led to a 1-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Brenden Motley.

UP NEXT

EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates open AAC play next Saturday with a home game against UCF. ECU blasted the Golden Knights 44-7 last season for their first win in Orlando since 2008.

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies are off next week before taking on North Carolina on Oct. 8 and will be looking to avenge last year's 30-27 overtime loss. The Hokies have won nine of the 12 meetings with the Tar Heels since joining the ACC.

Kurt Benkert rescues Virginia against Central Michigan, 49-35

Kurt Benkert rescues Virginia against Central Michigan, 49-35

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kurt Benkert threw five touchdown passes, the last three after Virginia had squandered all of a 28-0 lead, and the Cavaliers gave coach Bronco Mendenhall his 100th career victory, 49-35 over Central Michigan on Saturday.

Benkert hit Olamide Zaccheaus with a go-ahead 82-yard pass after the Cavaliers defense forced its first punt since the opening quarter. Virginia (1-3) forced another punt, and Benkert hit Albert Reid for a 5-yard touchdown, capping a 73-yard drive. Taquan Mizzell also scored twice for Virginia on runs of 4 and 53 yards.

"That's a happy group of young men in that locker room," Mendenhall said. "I'm certainly not saying we've arrived, but it's a nice start."

The Chippewas (3-1), seeking their first 4-0 start since 1985, scored on four of five possessions after going behind 28-0 less than 20 minutes into the game.

Cooper Rush for 402 yards and two touchdown passes to Corey Willis, including an 85-yarder, and Amari Coleman read a screen pass perfectly and scored on a 47-yard interception return.

Mendenhall, in his first year at Virginia, was 99-43 in 11 seasons at BYU before coming east.

THE TAKEAWAY

Central Michigan: The Chippewas are a confident team, and showed it even when trailing by three touchdowns in a loud stadium. They used timeouts when Virginia had the ball late in the second quarter to stop the clock, and cashed in with two touchdowns in the last 4 1/2 minutes of the half to get within 28-14.

Virginia: Rush picked apart the Virginia secondary, which lost cornerback Juan Thornhill on the first play of the game. The unit also lacks speed and played off the Central Michigan receivers for much of the day, allowing several long completions that produced third-down conversions. Kareem Gibson was a frequent target, but acquitted himself with a fourth-quarter interception to set up an insurance TD.

UP NEXT

Central Michigan: The Chippewas head into Mid-American Conference play at home against Western Michigan.

Virginia: The Cavaliers, losers of 17 in a row on the road, will try to end that skid as they open their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule at Duke.