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Thursday, November 1, 2012
Miami takes control of Coastal Division

By Andrea Adelson



Miami is now in control of the Coastal Division thanks to its 30-12 win over Virginia Tech on Thursday night.

The door is open a crack for Duke, too.

But let us get one thing out of the way right at the top: The Hurricanes have plenty of work to do if they want to win out and make it to the ACC championship game. Virginia Tech (4-5 overall, 2-3 ACC) all but gift wrapped the game to Miami (5-4, 4-2), essentially winning every major category on the stat sheet but the final score.

The reason?

Countless mistakes, from the special-teams failures to red zone failures to breakdowns at critical junctures. Logan Thomas had yet another poor outing, contributing to many of the mistakes we saw. He threw an interception in the red zone and later fumbled on the goal line with Virginia Tech trailing 20-12 in the third quarter. With another chance to drive for the potential game-tying score in the fourth quarter, he overthrew a wide-open wide receiver on fourth down, and Virginia Tech never really had a chance after that.

The truth is, Virginia Tech squandered a huge opportunity in the third quarter. The Hokies outgained Miami 107-3 and came away with zero points. In fact, Miami did not get its first third-down conversion of the game until early in the fourth quarter. That ended up being a huge play, because Miami used the confidence gained from that play to drive down the field.

The back-breaker on that drive was a halfback option play, on which Phillip Dorsett connected on a 20-yard pass to Stephen Morris down to the Virginia Tech 7. Duke Johnson ran for the 7-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach.

Thomas had another game to forget, with three total turnovers. In the Hokies' losses to Clemson and Pitt this season, Virginia Tech had too many turnovers as well. It now appears Virginia Tech's streak of eight consecutive 10-win seasons is over.

Miami had its share of inconsistency but deserves credit for not wilting, especially after losing two key players on defense to injury -- linebacker Denzel Perryman and safety Deon Bush. Miami had worn down in its more recent games in the fourth quarter, and many thought that would happen again with the way the Hokies were able to march up and down the field.

But the Hurricanes got the turnovers and came up with the big plays when they needed them on defense. That has to be a huge confidence booster, given the way this group has struggled this season.

On offense, Johnson was outstanding once again, with 217 all-purpose yards. He had various big plays, including an 81-yard kickoff return and a 65-yard run that were absolute killers.

Looking ahead, Miami will take the Coastal Division if it wins out. But this division could come down to the final game of the regular season, when Miami travels to Duke on Nov. 24. The Blue Devils (6-3, 3-2) also have two ACC losses, so if they can get to the Miami game without another loss, that game could be for the championship spot.