November 17, 2015

Frank Beamer's last home game. Senior Day.

Emotions are running high as Virginia Tech gets ready to host North Carolina in the Hokies' final home game of the season.

The contest will not only be Senior Day for 26 Hokies players, but will be the last time Beamer runs out onto the field for a home game as the coach at his alma mater. Beamer has 278 career victories, the most among active Division I coaches and the sixth-most in history. He announced earlier this year that he is retiring after what will be his 29th season.

The Hokies also need one more victory to extend their nation's-best bowl streak to 23 seasons.

''We all know it's a huge game, not only for Frank but for us,'' senior defensive tackle Luther Maddy said this week. ''It's my last time walking through the tunnel at Lane Stadium, so I know I'm going to have some emotions running through my body. I'm sure all the other seniors will also. I think we're going to play our butts off this game, not only for us but for coach Beamer and for this team to keep this bowl streak going. It'll be a huge game.''

The No. 12 Tar Heels (9-1, 6-0) have their own agenda. They are riding a nine-game winning streak and need one more victory to secure their place in the ACC championship game against top-ranked Clemson on Dec. 5.

''It's going to be emotional for a lot of those fans because he has done so many great things. He built Virginia Tech football,'' Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams said of Beamer. ''And they're going to come out amped up. The guys will come up wanting to get a win for him and send him off on good terms for his last home game. ... We're going to be excited too because we still have people that think we're irrelevant, people (who) think we shouldn't be where we are today. That's fine. We just have to go out and have fun with them, too.''

Beamer tried to downplay the magnitude of his 180th home game for himself, saying he would save those thoughts for another day, but son Shane Beamer, the Hokies' associate head coach and running backs coach, said managing emotions will be a challenge.

''I think you have to worry about it being too emotional for coaches, too, and make sure we do our job,'' said the younger Beamer, who played for his father on the team that played for the 1999 national championship.

''Before the game it will be emotional and after the game it will be emotional, but during the game you have a job to do and that's what we preach to the players about is, `Let's make sure we're not too amped up. Let's feed off the energy of the crowd and feed off the energy of each other and try to get bowl eligible.'''

The game isn't an all-or-nothing proposition for the Hokies, who can also secure bowl eligibility the following week by winning their traditional regular season finale against Virginia, but besides wanting to see his father notch one more big victory at Lane Stadium, Shane Beamer recalled being disappointed for the seniors after a 27-24 loss to Maryland in the Hokies' last home game two years ago.

''I can't wait for Saturday,'' he said. ''We need Lane Stadium to be the loudest it's ever been on Saturday. Ever.''


AP sports writer Aaron Beard contributed from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


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