Four thoughts from Virginia Tech's 55-52 win over Tulsa in the Independence Bowl.

1. In Beamer's final game, it comes full circle

The Hokies players paraded around in shirts that read "Beamerball 280," a tribute to the legendary coach's final victory on the sideline for Virginia Tech, a figure that left him 15th all time with 280 career wins.

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That victory, like the first of the 23 straight bowl appearances that Beamer led the Hokies to, came in the Independence Bowl. It also moved Virginia Tech to 7-6 on the season, which is part of what may be the most impressive part of Beamer's Hall of Fame resume.

Since the bowl streak began, the Hokies never finished with a losing record. Despite going to the postseason at 6-6 in each of the past two years, Beamer's crew still won that final game to finish above the .500 line, and they pulled off the same feat in 2012.

Beamer's legacy in Blacksburg will loom large, but that may be it at its simplest. Granted, the program slipped since rattling off eight straight seasons of 10 or more wins from 2004-2011, a mark Virginia Tech hasn't been able to challenge since, but Beamer has remained consistent.

Among the those programs with an active streak of at least 10 straight bowl appearances, only two other coaches (Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy), can match Beamer in saying they are responsible for all those bowl bids.

2. As expected, Hokies offense breaks out

It was nearly a career game from Hokies QB Michael Brewer, who threw for 344 yards on 23 of 37 passing, finishing one yard shy of the personal best he had a year ago against Boston College.

Brewer's game was part of a performance that was largely out of character for Virginia Tech, which has been downright bad at times on offense. It came in ranked 94th at 367 yards per game and 63rd in scoring (29.0).

It certainly helped that the Hokies were facing a defense that is 125th (531.5), and from that end, totaling 598 yards wasn't that stunning. But this is the same Virginia Tech offense that scored more than 30 points three times, with two of those coming against Furman and Purdue.

All that being said, Isaiah Ford put on a show with 12 catches for 227 yards and a touchdown. The junior-to-be should appear on everyone's Biletnikoff Award short lists to start next season.

3. Hokies defense steps up when matters most

The Golden Hurricane were poised to give Virginia Tech trouble, ranking 14th in total offense (502.8) and 26th in scoring (35.9), and down three TDs in the second half, trouble came calling.

Tulsa pulled within 55-52 with 3:47 left, but Dadi L'homme Nicolas ended the final threat, blowing past the right tackle for a sack of Dane Evans on fourth down. Evans still threw for 374 yards on 27 of 44 passing for three scores.

Nicolas delivering there was a surprise considering how the Hokies have struggled to generate much pressure on QBs. That was just his second of the season for a unit that sits 91st in FBS at 1.75 per game.

But on a night that was a celebration for the Hokies, is it any surprise they put it all together when it mattered most?

Final note on this: given the problems Bud Foster's defense had dealing with a spread-based offense, its going to have its hands full on a daily basis next season with the Hokies running that scheme under new coach Justin Fuente.

4. One last taste of BeamerBall

That came courtesy of Greg Stroman, who ran back a 67-yard punt return for a score in the second quarter.

Those game-changing special teams plays are a part of BeamerBall, and to put it into statistical context: since 2000, only Oklahoma has more punt returns for a score than the Hokies with 208. Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook