Hurricanes' rally, but come up empty
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Jacory Harris still couldn't believe it.
The Hurricanes quarterback led four second-half touchdown drives, with a big assist from Lamar Miller, and had Miami in position to beat No. 21 Virginia Tech with under 3 minutes to go.
It didn't happen. Logan Thomas ran 19 yards for a touchdown with 56 seconds to play Saturday night, capping a wild fourth quarter as the Hokies beat the Hurricanes 38-35.
"I would never have imagined losing this game," Harris said.
He finished 13 for 21 for 267 yards and touchdowns of 15 yards to Allen Hurns, 77 yards to Travis Benjamin and 4 yards to Tommy Streeter. He did not throw an interception.
The only time the Hurricanes were stopped came on their final possession, when three consecutive incompletions by Harris brought it down to one final play. He hit Miller, but with Hokies swarming all around, the running back never found daylight the way he had all day.
"When you get that close, it hurts, especially when you feel like you're the better team," center Tyler Horn said. "We made plays. At the end of the day, it wasn't enough."
That the winning run came on a fourth-and-1 made it worse, first-year coach Al Golden said.
"Fourth-and-1 is the situation we want to be in," he said. "We had the right call, but he just split us. It was a good situation for us, but they made the play and we didn't."
The Hokies (5-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) rescued their chances of contending in the Coastal Division with the dramatic rally, and may have killed the hopes for Miami (2-3, 0-2).
It erased a remarkable comeback by Miller, who ran for 166 yards on 18 carries, Harris and the Hurricanes, who trailed 21-7 early in the third quarter before becoming unstoppable.
And getting help.
On a third-and-4 from his own 23, Harris looked for Benjamin deep and rover Eddie Whitley tried to break on the ball for an interception. He missed, and Benjamin went 77 yards.
That made it 21-14, and defense seemingly took the rest of the game off.
The Hokies drove to the Miami 11 before Cody Journell kicked a 28-yard field goal.
Miami answered by going 89 yards in 12 plays. Harris hit Clive Walford for 25 yards on a flea flicker, and the only third-down conversion in the drive came on a 2-yard run by Mike James from the Hokies' 6. On the next play, Harris hit Streeter for the touchdown, beating All-American cornerback Jayron Hosley in one-on-one coverage the left corner of the end zone.
"We knew we had to beat them to the punch. We hit them in the mouth," Harris said.
With the crowd suddenly very quiet, Thomas loosened them back up, finding Jarrett Boykin downfield on the first play after the kickoff went out of bounds for a 60-yard scoring play.
It rebuilt the Hokies' lead to 31-21, but also put their defense back on the field.
Miller went 37 yards on the first play, but the Hokies had Miami facing a fourth-and-20 at their own 38 after J.R. Collins sacked Harris. But Collins was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play, a 15-yard penalty and automatic first down, and Miami had life again.
Miller went for 18 yards, and on a second-down play from the 16, Harris lateraled to Phillip Dorsett, who then hit a wide-open Miller on the far side of the field for the touchdown.
That made it 31-28, and Miami followed by holding Virginia Tech without a first down.
After Michael Branthover's punt was downed at the Hokies' 42, Miami drove to the 6, but then went backward to a holding call and a personal foul against Seantrel Henderson.
Facing second-and-goal from the 30, however, Miller broke through the right side of the line and scored easily, giving the Hurricanes their first lead with just 2:51 remaining.
That put the heat back on Thomas, who was sharp all day, and on Wilson.
Wilson, who finished with 128 yards on 23 carries, had an 18-yard run on the drive, but the Hokies still faced fourth-and-1 from the 19 with 1:01 left when Thomas faked a handoff to Wilson, freezing the defense just enough, and then bolting through a hole to score easily.
It capped a great afternoon for Thomas, who was getting criticism after the Hokies managed only 258 yards last week and went without a touchdown at home for the first time since 1995.
Thomas finished 23 for 25 for 310 yards, and his only two incompletions were a short pass that Wilson dropped, and a pass that Thomas threw away after picking up a bungled snap.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)