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Virginia Tech dominates Sugar Bowl, but mistakes lead to 23-20 overtime loss to Michigan
NEW ORLEANS (AP) ' Virginia Tech wanted to prove itself worthy of a BCS bid.
Instead, the Hokies blew it in the Sugar Bowl.
After squandering numerous chances to race to a big lead in the first half, No. 17 Virginia Tech needed a gutsy comeback just to force overtime. Then, one more miscue ' third-string kicker Justin Myer, who made four clutch field goals in regulation, finally missed on his fifth attempt, and Brendan Gibbons knocked through a 37-yarder that gave No. 13 Michigan a 23-20 victory Tuesday night.
The Hokies (11-3) outgained the Wolverines 377-184 in total yards, making quarterback Denard Robinson look downright ordinary. But the most disputed team to land a BCS invitation simply made too many mistakes to pull it out.
While Michigan leaped around and even managed to dump a bucket of water on first-year coach Brady Hoke, Virginia Tech's players collapsed on the field in anguish.
They had a chance to prove all the skeptics wrong.
They let it slip away.
Myer made the last of his field goals from 25 yards with 2 seconds left in regulation, sending the game to overtime tied at 20. It was quite a performance by a kicker who fell into the job when the top two specialists got in trouble off the field ' one left at home, the other sent home.
Virginia Tech got the ball first in overtime and appeared to score a touchdown when Danny Coale made a brilliant, one-handed catch as he was tumbling out of bounds. But the replay showed he landed on the line as he pulled the ball in ' just a split-second before he dragged his right foot inbounds.
On came Myer, whose 37-yard attempt faded wide right.
Michigan (11-2) failed to pick up a first down. It didn't matter. The Wolverines were already in range for the winning kick.
But don't blame Myer for this one. There were more than enough mistakes to go around, including all sorts of botched plays by Virginia Tech's special teams.
The Hokies ran into Michigan's punter. They fumbled a kickoff return. They turned an ugly pass into a first-down completion after Michigan messed up a field-goal try. And, finally, a fake punt that failed miserably in the fourth quarter, setting up Gibbons for a 39-yard field goal that put the Wolverines ahead 20-17 with 4 minutes remaining.
Virginia Tech, to its credit, drove 83 yards for the tying field goal.
In the end, it was just another loss in a major bowl for the Hokies, who dropped to 2-6 on college football's biggest stages. This one stings a little worse, since there was plenty of criticism when Virginia Tech was invited to the Big Easy over two higher-ranked teams, Boise State and Kansas State.
"I'm about half-sick right now," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "But I'm proud as I can be of our players. I'm proud of the way we battled back. It was not a lack of effort here. It was not a lack of preparation. Our guys played their hearts out. There were just some fluke plays."
Robinson, the Wolverines' thrilling quarterback, didn't do much. He completed just 9 of 21 passes for 117 yards. He was sacked three times and finished with 13 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Logan Thomas passed for 214 yards, David Wilson rushed for 82, and the Hokies dominated the stat sheet. But the only numbers that mattered were in Michigan's favor.
"Too many mistakes," Beamer moaned. "We did some things that weren't in our best interest."