2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 12, UNC at Virginia Tech
ACC Fearless Predictions &
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Nov. 17 at Virginia Tech 24 … North Carolina 21
CFN Analysis: It hasn’t always been pretty, and it became way too interesting in the fourth quarter, but the Hokies got the win, they go the ten-win season it needed, and everything continues to roll right along in yet another special year under Frank Beamer. … Logan Thomas continues to be exactly what the team needs, throwing for 195 yards and two scores and running just effectively enough to balance out David Wilson and the rest of the offense. However, he only got loose once; it just so happened to be for a key score. … North Carolina did a nice job of bottling up Wilson and forced Thomas to push the ball a bit. Fortunately, the defense was able to do an even better job against Giovani Bernard and the Tar Heel ground attack. … One of the nation’s worst punting games continues to be a problem with Michael Branthover failing to air it out and averaging just 30 yards per kick.
The running game couldn’t find any room and couldn’t get Giovani Bernard going, with just 45 yards and as score on ten carries. … The offense started to work late when things got desperate and Bryn Renner stopped worrying about making mistakes. He didn’t throw any picks, but he also didn’t deal on third downs until the last ten minutes of the game when he had to try everything to keep things going, and he got the team back in the game. Once again, he’s proving to be efficient enough and effective enough to build the offense around next year and let him do far more pushing down the field. … The defensive front gave up a big run to David Wilson, and lost containment on Logan Thomas for a touchdown dash, but the line did a terrific job throughout. This was the Quinton Coples everyone’s been waiting for on a consistent basis, making eight tackles, a forced fumble, and a sack with 2.5 tackles for loss.
(AP) BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Logan Thomas threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third, leading No. 9 Virginia Tech to a 24-21 victory over North Carolina on Thursday night and another 10-win season.
The Hokies (10-1, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their sixth in a row since a home loss to No. 7 Clemson and remained on track for a rematch with the Tigers in the ACC championship game. Virginia Tech would clinch its fourth Coastal Division title in five years Saturday night if Virginia loses at No. 23 Florida State.
If the Cavaliers win, the Virginia rivals play for a berth in the conference championship game Nov. 26.
North Carolina (6-5, 2-5) lost its second straight. The Tar Heels failed to get anything going on offense until after the Hokies had taken a commanding lead, then made it tense for fans that remained in the stands on a frigid night.
Bryn Renner's 5-yard touchdown pass to Erik Highsmith made it 24-14 with 7:06 to go, and after the Hokies were forced to punt, Renner's 64-yard pass to Highsmith set up Ryan Houston's short touchdown run, making it 24-21 with 2:32 to play.
The Tar Heels tried an onside kick and recovered it, but the ball did not travel the required 10 yards to allow them to gain possession. Virginia Tech almost ran out the clock, leaving the Tar Heels time for one play -- but Bryn Renner's short pass fell incomplete.
The victory was the 250th as a head coach for Frank Beamer.
Thomas finished 19 of 32 for 195 yards. He hit Jarrett Boykin 10 times for 106 yards, and Virginia Tech improved to 19-5 on Thursday nights.
Until the late drama, the Hokies were in control.
They led 10-7 at halftime and scored twice in the third quarter to effectively put the game away, especially since the Tar Heels' offense managed to do very little. Their cause was not helped when 1,000-yard rusher Giovani Bernard, who gained 45 yards on 10 carries and scored their first touchdown, left with a mild concussion in the first half and didn't return.
Thomas made it 17-7 with a 23-yard touchdown run on third-and-2. It capped a 70-yard drive helped greatly by a pass interference call against Charles Brown on a ball that was well over the head of Boykin. The whistle came on a third-and-13 from the Tar Heels 44.
After an exchange of punts, Thomas hit Boykin for 39 yards to the Tar Heels 27. Josh Oglesby followed with runs of 13 and 10 yards, and Thomas hit D.J. Coles with a beautiful throw on a fade route to the right corner of the end zone, pushing the lead to 24-7 late in the quarter.
Only then did the Tar Heels start moving the ball, but they ran out of time.
Virginia Tech drove to the North Carolina 26 on its second possession, but Thomas missed Boykin on fourth-and-4. The Tar Heels appeared poised to double their lead, driving to the Hokies 5, but Antone Exum stripped Houston, and Derrick Hopkins recovered for Tech.
That started an 18-play, 95-yard drive for the Hokies that featured three third-down conversions and a 2-yard run on fourth-and-1 by Thomas. The 6-foot-6, 254-pounder had scrambled for 18 yards on third-and-19, and then pushed the pile after appearing to have been stopped.
Three plays later, he hit Chris Drager from 11 yards out for the tying touchdown.
After failing to get a first down, the Tar Heels gave the Hokies a short field when Dion Guy was called for fair-catch interference, and Virginia Tech took over at the Tar Heels 34.
David Wilson covered the first 33 on the next play, but when two rushes by Wilson and one by Thomas netted minus-4 yards, Cody Journell made it 10-7 with a 22-yard field goal.
The Hokies found themselves in familiar territory early -- trailing -- very quickly.
On the game's first play from scrimmage, Sylvester Williams hit Thomas from behind and stripped the ball. Tydreke Powell recovered for the Tar Heels at the Hokies 20.
Renner hit Dwight Jones for 18 yards on the second play, and Bernard ran it in from the 4 on the next play, giving North Carolina a 7-0 lead after just 1:18. It was the seventh time the opponent has scored first against Virginia Tech this season, and the Hokies were 5-1 in those.
North Carolina (6-4) at Virginia Tech (9-1) Nov. 17, 8:00, ESPN
Here’s The Deal … Virginia Tech is at it again. The program you can set your watch to may never win a National Championship, but as long as head coach Frank Beamer is in Blacksburg, it may never rebuild either. The Hokies took a giant step closer to a Dec. 3 rematch with Clemson in the ACC title game with Thursday night’s 37-26 win over Georgia Tech on the Flats. The team’s most impressive victory of 2011 brought it to within striking distance of another Coastal Division crown, and an eighth straight 10-win season for Beamer and his staff.
North Carolina is coming out of its first and only bye of the year, using it to rest some bumps and bruises, and focus on the final two games of the regular season. After starting 5-1, the Tar Heels have struggled in the second half with three losses in four games. The pre-bye shutout at the hands of rival NC State was a sign that this program could be running out of gas. At some point, the administration must address the status of interim head coach Everett Withers, who hasn’t helped his case for being retained on a full-time basis.
Why North Carolina Might Win: Throughout the ups and downs of this fall, one constant remains in Chapel Hill—the Heels harbor a lot of next-level talent on defense. When this group comes motivated, it can be as good as any in the ACC, allowing just 23 points and 108 yards rushing a game. The front seven, in particular, is speckled with all-star candidates, such as linebackers Zach Brown and Kevin Reddick, and linemen Quinton Coples, Kareem Martin, Tydreke Powell and Sylvester Williams.
Carolina’s gameplan calls for the defense to stuff the Hokies, while 1,000-yard RB Giovani Bernard exploits whatever holes he can find in a Hokies defense getting perilously thin at linebacker through injuries.
Why Virginia Tech Might Win: The Hokies can run the ball and stuff the run, two of the cornerstones of a championship-caliber team. On offense, they’ve got one of the nation’s premier backs, David Wilson, who’s been held below 100 yards just once all year. He’s a dynamite all-around back, who can get the tough yards on the inside, or bounce outside and jet through the secondary. No. 4 is getting far more support from his quarterback these days, as young Logan Thomas has accounted for 17 touchdowns over the last five games. He and receivers Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin will delight in facing a Carolina secondary that’s the weakest chain in the defensive link.
On defense, Virginia Tech has been a rock against the run, even holding Georgia Tech’s second-ranked ground game well below its average in Thursday night’s win.
What To Watch Out For: Year-in and year-out, Virginia Tech coordinator Bud Foster does about as good a job of coaching up a defense as anyone in the country. He doesn’t always attract blue-chip talent, yet his kids are perennially stout and well-schooled in the fundamentals. The 2011 edition ranks among the nation’s leaders in sacks, yet top pass rushers James Gayle and J.R. Collins are anything but household names.
The ends are key cogs in a rush that had six sacks of Yellow Jackets QB Tevin Washington, who only attempted 10 passes. Carolina QB Bryn Renner will need to keep his head on a swivel, especially since he’s attempting to return from concussion-like symptoms suffered in the NC State loss.
What Will Happen: Now that Virginia Tech has gotten its one bad game out of its system, it’s poised to roll straight through to Charlotte on the first Saturday of December. The Hokies are coming off their best game of 2011, and are starting to really click on both sides of the ball. Carolina, while well-rested, is showing that it might limp to the regular season finish line.
Although Wilson will continue his heroics on the ground, the Heels’ bigger concern will be a Tech defense that’s only had one rocky week, the 38-35 escape of Miami. It’ll stuff a Carolina offense that lacks consistency, or the line play to keep the Hokies’ linemen and linebackers out of Renner’s face.
CFN Prediction: Virginia Tech 30 … North Carolina 14
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Virginia Tech -10.5 O/U: 47
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