MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (HokiesSports.com) – DeShawn McClease scored on a 3-yard run with 1:03 remaining to lift Virginia Tech to a wild 42-35 ACC victory over Miami on Saturday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium.
With the win, the Hokies moved to 3-2 overall, 1-2 in ACC play. Miami, coming off a bye week, fell to 2-3 overall, 0-2 in the league. Tech also snapped a two-game losing streak to Miami.
The Hokies managed to pull out the victory despite squandering a 28-0 first half lead. Miami rallied in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points – the final seven on a 62-yard run by Deejay Dallas that tied the game at 28 with 3:16 remaining.
But the Hokies answered. Tech went on a 63-yard march that took five plays and scored on a 3-yard run by McClease that gave it a 42-35 edge with 1:03 left.
Miami had one last chance. The ‘Canes drove to the Tech 10 on the ensuing possession, but Tech linebacker Alan Tisdale broke up a N’Kosi Perry pass on the game’s final play to seal the victory for the Hokies.
The Hokies grabbed that 28-0 lead primarily because Tech’s defense forced five first half turnovers. The Hokies intercepted Miami quarterback Jarren Williams on each of the ‘Canes first three possessions. Jermaine Waller intercepted two of those, and Tech scored touchdowns off both, with Hendon Hooker – making his first collegiate start – rushing for a score and throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dalton Keene. The Hokies later converted a Mike Harley fumble in a 1-yard touchdown run by James Mitchell.
Tech also scored in a more traditional fashion. The Hokies went on a 12-play, 80-yard march spanning the first and second quarter that ended with Hooker’s second touchdown pass to Keene – a 17-yarder that gave Tech a 28-0 advantage early in the second quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Hooker threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Keene to give the Hokies a 35-14 lead before Miami rallied to tie the game.
Taking over for Ryan Willis, Hooker, a redshirt sophomore completed 10 of 20 passes for 184 yards, with three touchdowns, and he also rushed for 76 yards and a score. Keene caught five passes for 73 yards and three touchdowns.
Tech’s defense finished with nine tackles for a loss and a season-high seven sacks.
PLAY OF THE GAME
In a game that featured many big plays, especially for Tech, arguably the biggest came on the Hokies’ final drive. A 29-yar pass from Hooker to Damon Hazelton put the Hokies at the Miami 34, and after two plays, they faced a third-and-5 from the Miami 29. On that play, Hooker made a nice fake and hit Keene for a 26-yard gain to the Miami 3. That play led to McClease’s game winning score.
• Tech last forced five turnovers in a half in 2010 when it registered a 26-10 victory over North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
• Hooker’s 12-yard touchdown run in the first quarter marked the second rushing touchdown of his career.
• Waller’s two interceptions marked his second and third of the season and the second and third of the sophomore’s career.
• Caleb Farley’s two interceptions marked his second and third of the season and the fourth and fifth of the redshirt sophomore’s career.
• Keene’s two touchdown receptions marked his first and second of the season and the fourth and fifth of his career.
• Keene became the first Tech tight end to catch two touchdown passes in the same game since Bucky Hodges against Liberty in 2016.
• Mitchell’s 67-yard reception that set up Keene’s 5-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter was a career long and his 74 yards receiving were a career high.
• Griffin’s 1.5 sacks were a career high.
The Hokies return to action Saturday when they take on Rhode Island in a nonconference game slated for 4 p.m. Tech’s last – and only – meeting with the Rams came in 1980 when the Hokies rolled to a 34-7 victory at Lane Stadium. This year’s game will be televised on ACC Network.