(Thursday, January 1st)
Final Score: (21) Virginia Tech 20, (12) Cincinnati 7
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Darren Evans gained 153 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries and Cody Grimm had the game-sealing interception, as No. 21 Virginia Tech crushed 12th-ranked Cincinnati, 20-7, in the 75th edition of the Orange Bowl.
Virginia Tech, which is 8-14 in postseason play, was making its second straight appearance in the Orange Bowl as champion of the ACC for a second consecutive season. The Hokies dropped a 24-21 decision to Kansas in last year's Orange Bowl.
Tyrod Taylor threw for 140 yards and was picked off once on 13-of-22 passing and rushed for 47 yards and a score on 15 carries for the Hokies (10-4), who won their final four games to record their fifth straight 10-win season, a current streak only matched by Texas and Southern California. Danny Coale had 52 yards on three grabs in the win.
"I think this is the best football 'team' we've ever had," said Tech head coach Frank Beamer. "We had some tough losses [this season], but no one slipped up. We hung in there together. We always practiced hard. I can't say enough about our players and our coaches.
"We have [had] some great, great seasons here at Virginia Tech. But I believe this is the best team we've ever had."
Tony Pike threw for 239 yards with a TD but was picked off four times on 16- of-33 efficiency for the Bearcats (11-3), who saw their six-game win streak come to an end. Jacob Ramsey tallied 34 yards on four touches while Mardy Gilyard logged 158 yards and a TD on seven catches for Cincinnati, which registered 11 wins for the first time in school history.
The Bearcats were playing in their first January 1st bowl since 1951 after capturing their first-ever Big East title and subsequent BCS Bowl bid. Cincinnati was playing in its 11th bowl game all-time (6-5) and had been solid in the postseason, winning three straight bowl games coming in, including last year's 31-21 decision over Southern Miss in the Papajohns.com Bowl.
"You work out in the summer and preseason camp to get an opportunity to get to this point," said Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly about his team's season. "But you want to finish it off, so there's a lot of disappointment, obviously, in our locker room."
The Hokies got the ball first in the third quarter and drove all the way from their 14 to the Bearcats 18, where the drive stalled. Dustin Keys then snuck a 35-yard field goal inside the left upright for a 13-7 lead with 8:32 left in the frame.
The teams traded punts and Cincinnati took over at its own 14. Isaiah Pead rushed for three yards on first down but Pike was picked off on second down and Tech started at Cincy's 10.
It took Evans three plays to find the end zone as his six-yard score with 11:29 left in the game put the Hokies up 20-7.
The Bearcats then drove from their 40 all the way down to the Virginia Tech red zone and Pike converted on 4th-and-5 from the 11 with a seven-yard pass to Dominick Goodman. Then, on 4th-and-goal from the one, Pike was stopped and Virginia Tech took over on downs.
The Hokies were held to a three-and-out, but John Goebel was called for roughing the kicker on fourth down and Virginia Tech got a new set of downs at the 21. The team was eventually stopped and Cincinnati got the ball back at its own 48. However, Grimm picked off Pike on first down to all but seal the deal.
"We didn't score enough points," Kelly added. "We moved the ball, did the things that we wanted to do, but didn't put points on the board. Seven points is not enough to win against any team."
The Bearcats' opening possession went six plays, spanned 72 yards, lasted just under two minutes and resulted in a 7-0 lead. Pike hit Gilyard twice on the drive, the first time for a 38-yard gain and the second for a 15-yard touchdown.
Each school registered a missed field goal and a punt on the next four possessions, and the Hokies took over at their own 27 on a drive that bridged the first two quarters.
Taylor closed out the nine-play, 73-yard trek with a 17-yard scramble through the Cincinnati defense and into paydirt to tie the game with 13 minutes left in the half.
The next five drives produced little offense and Keys hit a 43-yard field goal as time expired to give Virginia Tech a 10-7 lead at the intermission.
Virginia Tech snapped the ACC's eight-game losing streak in BCS bowls...These teams had met eight previous times and the series was knotted at four wins apiece coming in. The last meeting took place in 2006, as the Hokies posted a 29-13 at home.
01/02 08:30:22 ET