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Virginia Tech holds on, defeats Tulsa, 55-52, in Frank Beamer finale

independence bowlVirginia Tech led by 24 midway through the second quarter, but the Hokies had to fight off a late Tulsa rally to clinch a 55-52 win in the Independence Bowl on Saturday.

It was the final win for coach Frank Beamer in his storied 29-year career at his alma mater, and it came at the location of his first bowl win, in 1993.

The Hokies launched a streak of 23 straight bowl appearances at the end of that season, which concluded with another high-scoring Tech win, 45-20 over Indiana in that one.

This one was a little too exciting for Hokies fans.

Tulsa (6-7) scored twice in the game’s opening 3:06 on quick-strike drives, but Virginia Tech (7-6) seemed to be in control after a three-touchdown barrage in a 5:58 span of the second quarter that saw the Hokies go up 45-21 with 7:11 to go before the half on a 67-yard punt return TD by Greg Stroman.

The Golden Hurricane closed to 45-31 at the half, but Tech, getting the ball to start the second half, took the opening drive of the third quarter and played keep-away, going 81 yards on 15 plays, culminating in a Trey Edmunds 1-yard touchdown run that pushed the lead back to three scores at 52-31.

A Dane Evans 9-yard TD run after a Michael Brewer interception cut the margin to 52-37 with 4:11 to go in the third.

Joey Slye was good from 41 yards to give Tech a 55-37 lead with 11:09 left in the fourth. Evans hooked up with Joshua Atkinson on a 21-yard touchdown pass, and with a two-point conversion the deficit was at 10 at 55-45 with 7:35 left.

Evans hit Keyarris Garrett on a 36-yard TD pass with 3:47 left to bring Tulsa within a field goal.

The Hokies got a first down, but then had to punt, giving Tulsa the ball back at their own 20 with one timeout and 1:54 to go. But after Evans and Garrett connected on an 18-yard pass to get the ball out to the Tulsa 46, the Hurricane would get no further downfield, and a Dadi Nicholas sack on fourth down would end it.

Isaiah Ford was named the game’s MVP after catching 12 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown, a 75-yard first-quarter score.

Brewer threw for 344 yards on 23-of-37 passing with a touchdown and an interception.

Virginia Tech gained a season-high 598 yards of total offense, but also allowed 563 yards to Tulsa, the most since the season opener with Ohio State, with Evans going 27-for-44 passing for 374 yards and three touchdowns, and tailback D’Angelo Brewer gaining 105 yards on the ground on 14 carries with two touchdowns.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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