Virginia Tech Takes Home Fourth ACC Football Title After Taming Florida State
In seven years, Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech have four ACC titles. Three of those titles have come with quarterback Tyrod Taylor leading the way. The senior has the most wins of any quarterback in Virginia Tech history and he's had one of the most decorated careers of any player in school history.
Taylor showed the nation why he was named ACC Player of the Year in 2010. He threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns against Florida State and added 24 rushing yards with a touchdown, which gave the Hokies a choke-hold on the game midway through the fourth quarter.
You could tell the Hokies were motivated to play one of their best games all season. After holding the Seminoles to a field goal on their opening drive, the offense was forced to punt, but then a deflected pass was returned for six by Hokies linebacker Jeron Gouviea-Winslow.
On the Hokies' next offensive series, Darren Evans exploded out of the backfield with two carries for 61 yards and a touchdown. The Hokies were up 14-3 early and never looked back.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher decided not to play senior quarterback Christian Ponder, who was battling an elbow injury. That didn't help matters for the Seminoles, but E.J. Manuel played well in the loss. Even though he's not the guy that fans wanted to see out there Saturday night, he's going to have a pretty good next two years for the Seminoles.
Manuel emphasized one of the highlights in this game for both teams, which was younger players stepping up and making big plays. The Hokies were without starting linebackers Bruce Taylor and Lyndell Gibson due to injuries in the second half. This could have been devastating for a young defense, but Rashad Carmichael was able to come in and anchor the secondary and a couple backup linebackers came in and played well.
Jake Tyler and Tariq Edwards were the substitute linebackers and they helped hold the Seminoles to 16 second half points. The Hokies have to be pleased with the effort of their younger players like Gouviea-Winslow, Kyle Fuller, Jayron Hosley and Antoine Hopkins. Bud Foster, if he returns back as defensive coordinator next season, is going to have a very good defense next season.
One of the unsung heroes of the game has to be Danny Coale. The junior receiver exploded for six catches, 143 yards and a touchdown. He was running wide open in the secondary more than once, and he showed the Seminoles first hand how deep the Hokies were on offense. It almost seems like the defense forgot to cover Coale on a number of plays.
The Hokies showed they have tremendous depth on both sides of the ball and, as they have all season, can win in the face of adversity. Having Taylor leading the way certainly helped their cause, and the Hokies won their third ACC Championship in four years, and their fourth in their first seven years in the conference.
Charlotte, North Carolina was the perfect place for this game as well. It's right in the middle of ACC country and close to 73,000 fans filled the seats. It was the second highest attended game after the first ACC title game in 2005 between the same two teams. Hopefully the ACC will decide to keep the game in Charlotte for years to come.
The Hokies were also able to overcome their past troubles against the Seminoles and playing in Charlotte, NC. Beamer got his second win against the Seminoles, both with Taylor at quarterback, and he now has a winning record against the Seminoles with Fisher as head coach. Also, the Hokies were 0-3 in games played in Charlotte, so they were able to get their first win at that neutral site.
Florida State is on their way to a great bowl in Atlanta, GA, Chick-fil-a Bowl, and will likely take on Mississippi State. The Hokies are headed to Miami and their game will be announced Sunday night on ESPN. Early indications are that the Hokies will be playing Stanford, which would be a great primetime matchup on January 3.
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