Of all the memes to surface over the college football season, few were better than Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer hoisting his arms in celebration as the scoreboard marquee read “Virginia Tech 0, Wake Forest 0, End of 4th quarter.”
Tech would go on to lose the game 6-3 in OT, a nadir for an offense that struggled throughout the season, devastated by injuries and inefficiency.
On Saturday, the Hokies awakened. With Beamer coaching from the press box (he’s recovering from throat surgery), offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and running back J.C. Coleman sparked the struggling unit in an impressive 33-17 win over Cincinnati in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland. The nation’s 96th-ranked offense rolled up 33 points, its best output since October 4th, and 334 yards against a porous Cincinnati defense to secure the program’s 22nd consecutive winning season. Beamer’s son, Shane, took the head coaching reins on the sidelines and enjoyed the Gatorade bath at the end of the game.
Virginia Tech answered an early Cincinnati touchdown with a six-play, 64-yard drive, highlighted by a delightful trick play. Wide receiver Isaiah Ford took a pitch for an apparent end-around, only to toss the ball back to Brewer for a 30-yard gain to the Cincinnati two-yard line. Coleman, who finished the afternoon with 25 carries for 157 yards, capped the drive with a one-yard TD run.
After the sides traded field goals, Der’Woun Green’s 46-yard kickoff return positioned the Hokies for a go-ahead field goal before halftime. They wouldn’t surrender the lead from there.
After Coleman anchored an 11-play, 75-yard drive to put Tech up 20-10, the renowned Virginia Tech defense altered the game with one of the most entertaining touchdowns of the bowl season. Linebacker Deon Clarke drilled Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel on a strongside blitz, forcing a fumble that was scooped up by defensive tackle Nigel Williams, who then coughed up the ball before teammate Greg Stroman recovered it for a touchdown. The 27-10 lead put the game comfortably in tow for the Hokies, despite Cincinnati outgaining them 489-334.