It looked as though No. 17 North Carolina (10-1, 7-0 ACC) was well on its way to wrapping up the ACC Coastal Division in Blacksburg, but sometimes winning in Lane Stadium against the Virginia Tech Hokies (5-6, 4-3 ACC) is never as easy as it seems. The Tar Heels gave up two late fourth quarter touchdowns to the Hokies and would need to win it in overtime. Ryan Switzer caught an 18-yard touchdown from Marquise Williams on UNC’s possession of overtime to capture the win and the ACC Coastal Division championship.
Down 24-10 with just under five minutes to play, Virginia Tech quickly moved down the field after starting at their 37-yard line. Michael Brewer‘s 25-yard pass to Sam Rogers got the Hokies in UNC territory and a 26-yard pass to Isaiah Ford two plays later took them to the 11. Bucky Hodges would haul in an eight-yard pass on a fourth down from the eight-yard line for a touchdown to cut the UNC lead to one. UNC fumbled away the football on the ensuing drive, and Brewer again found Ford for a big play a few plays later. A short touchdown pass to Ford tied the game at 24-24 with 1:07 to play. The game would go to overtime, thanks in part to a bizarre timeout called by Larry Fedora on the UNC sideline.
North Carolina still has one more game to play before getting set to take on Clemson in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte in two weeks. UNC visits North Carolina State in Raleigh next week to conclude the regular season. North Carolina can keep some outside playoff hopes alive with a win next week.
The Tar Heels have never played for the ACC Championship. Since the championship game was introduced by the ACC in 2005, only Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Duke have represented the Coastal Division in the championship game. Virgina Tech was the last Coastal team to win the ACC when it topped Florida State in 2010. Coastal champs are 3-11 in the title game, with Clemson or Florida State winning each of the past four seasons (Florida State has won the last three).
Of course, the loss also carries a bit of an additional sour note for Virginia Tech. This was the last home game to be coached by longtime Hokies head coach Frank Beamer. Beamer announced his retirement that will be effective at the end of the season. Beamer’s Hokies now must win next week’s game against Virginia in order to keep Virginia Tech’s season going. Virginia Tech needs one more win to become bowl eligible this season. Beamer has taken Virginia Tech to the postseason every year since 1993.
A win away from clinching a spot in their first ACC Championship Game, UNC is not finding the explosive offense it has been accustomed to in recent weeks. Perhaps playing with a bit of extra fire in their new black alternate uniforms and wanting to give Frank Beamer one more win in Lane Stadium,. Virginia Tech is keep the Tar Heels in their sights. UNC leads, however, 7-3 at the half.
North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams used some big plays to his advantage on UNC’s first offensive series. A 32-yard pass to Austin Proehl took the ball into Virginia Tech territory, and Williams soon finished the drive with an 18-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
Virginia Tech’s first threat to put points on the board was thwarted by a missed field goal attempt by Joey Slye from 46 yards out. The field goal try came immediately after Hokies quarterback Michael Brewer stuffed for a loss of three yards on a 3rd and 1 from the 26-yard line.
UNC will clinch the ACC Coastal Division with a win or a Pittsburgh loss.
Looking to keep pace with Pittsburgh, who won earlier in the afternoon, Duke is looking to get out of Blacksburg with a win to remain in a tie for first place in the ACC Coastal. So far, so good for the Blue Devils, who lead Virginia Tech 14-10 at the half.
Duke opened the game with a 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by a Max McCaffrey touchdown pass from Thomas Sirk from the one-yard line for a 7-0 lead. Virginia Tech answered with a 78-yard touchdown drive ending with a 16-yard pass to Bucky Hodges from Michael Brewer on the ensuing possession. Duke used the Sirk-to-McCaffrey combo once more to regain the lead in the first quarter just six plays later.
Duke is playing just its third ACC game of the season. Pittsburgh has jumped out to a 4-0 start in ACC play after edging Syracuse earlier in the day. North Carolina is also off to an undefeated start and looking for a road win in Virginia against the Cavaliers. The Blue Devils are 7-of-11 on third downs. If that continues, Virginia Tech’s defense coudl start losing steam in the second half.
Virginia Tech will look to even their record this week at home in Blacksburg against Duke, and the return of quarterback Michael Brewer to the starting role could not come at a better time. Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer and offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler announced Brewer will start this week after returning from his collarbone injury last weekend against Miami.
“I think with his experience… it’s the right thing to do,” Beamer said of throwing Brewer back on the field. Brenden Motley has been filling the starting role in Brewer’s absence, throwing for 1,155 yards and 11 touchdowns as the Hokies have struggled to find much consistency on the field. Brewer made his return to the field last weekend against Miami, completing three of four pass attempts for 65 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Brewer had been out of action since breaking his collarbone in the season opener against Ohio State. The Hokies are 3-4 entering this weekend’s ACC Coastal Division game with the Blue Devils, who are looking to improve to 3-0 in ACC play.
Virginia Tech has been playing just about the whole season without starting quarterback Michael Brewer after the Hokies signal-caller broke his collarbone in the first game of the season. Now, Brewer is on his way back to the field. Brewer has been medically cleared to return to practice in Blacksburg. It may still be another few weeks until he gets back in a game for Virginia Tech.
Brewer broke his collarbone in Virginia Tech’s season-opening loss to Ohio State. Once he left the game, it seemed the Hokies were unable to give the defending national champions much of a fight for a second straight season. He was originally expected to miss eight to 10 weeks of action, which would have meant a return for a Halloween game against Boston College as the earliest likely date. Virginia Tech has a bye week after the Boston College game, meaning Brewer could then be available for a Thursday night division game against Georgia Tech on November 12. Considering all of that, the chance Brewer might be available to play this Friday night against N.C. State is quite a pleasant surprise for a Virginia Tech team in need of some help after dropping to 2-3 after a second straight loss last weekend. Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times says Brewer could be a gametime decision for Frank Beamer.
The outlook is not quite as possible for Hokies running back Marshawn Williams. Williams will be out for the rest of the season after reinjuring his left knee in practice in late September. It is the same knee that was surgically repaired last December. Williams can use this season as his redshirt season as he has not played in a game this season. He will still have three years of eligibility remaining when he returns to the team next fall.