Hokies beat Bearcats, 20-7
By Tim Reynolds
MIAMI ó The opening moments were filled with just about every problem Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer feared his team would have against Cincinnati.
It was merely a blip.
Nearly everything else went according to Beamer’s plan ó and the Hokies ended a yearlong Orange Bowl hangover.
Darren Evans had 28 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown, quarterback Tyrod Taylor rushed for another score and No. 21 Virginia Tech beat No. 12 Cincinnati 20-7 in the Orange Bowl Thursday night, joining Southern California and Texas as the only schools to win 10 games in each of the past five seasons.
“It doesn’t get any better than this. BCS, Orange Bowl champs,” Hokies cornerback Victor ‘Macho’ Harris said. “Being mentioned with teams like Texas and USC, it says a lot about our players, says a lot about Coach Beamer. BCS ó finally, we got one!”
The Hokies (10-4) forced Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike into a season-high four interceptions. Pike ó who wasn’t even on Cincinnati’s depth chart at the start of the season before blossoming into an all-Big East quarterback ó threw for 239 yards and one touchdown. He had his night marred by the picks and getting stopped on a fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter.
Mardy Gilyard had 255 all-purpose yards (158 receiving , 97 returning) and a touchdown catch for Cincinnati, which saw its six-game winning streak snapped. The Bearcats (11-3) came in as slight favorites over the Hokies, who lost this game to Kansas a year ago.
So this one was especially sweet for Virginia Tech.
Really, for the entire Atlantic Coast Conference, too.
The Hokies became the first ACC team to win a BCS game since Florida State ó ironically, perhaps ó beat Virginia Tech, then a Big East member, for the national championship to close the 1999 season.
It was eight BCS chances, eight BCS losses for the ACC since.
The oft-maligned league was just 5-12 over the past two seasons in all postseason games before the Hokies broke through, befuddling the Bearcats’ spread offense with an array of different blitzes and, at times anyway, simply winning the battle up front.
Evans got the clinching score early in the fourth, after Pike threw his third interception.
Deep in his own territory, Pike rolled right and threw back to the left, hoping the misdirection would pay off. Defensive end Orion Martin never bit and made a diving interception at the Cincinnati 10. Evans rumbled in from the 6 for a 20-7 lead with 11:29 left.
Pike got the Bearcats to the Virginia Tech 1 on the next drive, rolled out to his right and tried to run in on fourth-and-goal. He was stuffed by Barquell Rivers with 7:25 left to end Cincinnati’s last realistic comeback chance.
“We don’t always play well, but we always play hard,” Beamer said. “That’s what we did tonight.”
The Bearcats took the opening kickoff, sent their spread offense onto the field and made the Hokies look very confused. Pike found Gilyard for a 38-yard pickup on the third play, and they hooked up for a spectacular 15-yard touchdown three plays later to open the scoring.
There were large patches of empty seats in Dolphin Stadium, and event officials said 15,781 sold tickets were unused.