Forget the win over the Florida Gators last season.
This was the Canes' most impressive, most complete victory of the Al Golden era.
Until Hokies backup quarterback Mark Leal connected with Isaiah Ford for a 14-yard touchdown pass with a minute and 30 seconds left to play, the Hurricanes were on the verge of putting together their first shutout over an FBS opponent since they beat FIU 35-0 back in 2006.
Instead, they'll head home with a 30-6 beat down of Frank Beamer's Hokies in Blacksburg that breathes life back into their Coastal Division title hopes and puts them 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the ACC.
That's much more than anyone expected. Vegas favored Miami by just 2 1/2 points coming in. And why not? UM was 0-3 on the road this season and there was nothing they had to done recently to give you faith they would play as well as they did Thursday.
Some of the highlights:
> Led by Duke Johnson and Gus Edwards the Hurricanes ran for a season-high 364 yards against a Hokies run defense that ranked 29th nationally coming in (123.29). Last year, the Hokies held UM to 28 yards on 24 carries with Johnson hurt and lost for the season. Consider this: UM has run for 699 yards over its last eight quarters. The Canes had 800 total over their first six games.
"It was great man freaking running the ball like that," right tackle Jon Feliciano told WQAM after the game. "Duke had a great game. Gus had a great game. It felt like whoever would get the ball would make a play for us.
"I was kind of mad we were taking knees at the end of the game. I wanted go back out there and get 400. That's what we were talking about on the sidelines."
> As noted by many Johnson ran for a career-high 249 yards on 29 carries (one shy of his career mark) and also had two catches for 37 yards including a 22-yard TD catch seconds before the half. Johnson's 249 yards are tied for the third most in UM history with Lorenzo Roan. Only Edgerrin James' 299 yards vs. UCLA in 1998 and 271 yards at Boston College in 1997 rank higher.
The only thing that could stop Johnson Thursday was the Hokies bench (the actual metal sitting area). Johnson crashed into it as he ran out of bounds early in the fourth quarter. He later tweaked his right ankle late in the game (I'm not sure why he was still in there). But WQAM's sideline reporter Josh Darrow said Johnson was treated with "pain gel" and was fine.
Johnson by the way has run for 1,036 yards this season and has 11 100-yard rushing games under in his belt now including four 100-yard games in a row. "I think this is what the team needed -- a big performance," Johnson told ESPN afterward. "I just did what the coaches told me to do all week in practice -- to trust my o-line."
> Gus Edwards, getting the most action he's seen all season because Joe Yearby was hurt (ESPN reported a hamstring), ran for 115 yards on 15 carries. He scored on a 38-yard TD run to put UM ahead 30-0 in the fourth quarter.
> Coach Al Golden said the game plan coming in was to stay out of third and long situations at all costs. Miami ran the ball 53 times and threw it only 16 (Brad Kaaya finished 7-of-16 for 92 yards and a touchdown). It turned out to be the perfect formula to dominate the Hokies. Miami held the ball for 37 minutes and 52 seconds, easily their season-high.
> Virginia Tech ranked second nationally in sacks coming in with 28 total. The Hokies had none against the Hurricanes and just three quarterback hurries and three tackles for loss.
> Miami, ranked 127th in third down conversions coming in, finished 7-of-15 on third down. The Hokies had the fourth-ranked third down defense in the country (26.26 percent).
"That first third and long, [offensive James Coley] puts the draw in there and we get it against a blitz," Golden said. "That was our M.O. coming in. We were not going to get in a bad percentage third down and let them turn the game on that play. I thought James executed the game plan perfectly."
> Defensively, the Canes forced three consecutive turnovers to start the second half and are now 13-0 under Golden when creating at least three turnovers in a game.
The turnovers: safety Deon Bush simply took the ball away from running back Marshawn Williams near the goalline to prevent a Hokies touchdown on their opening drive of the third quarter. Tracy Howard then stripped a Hokies receiver of the ball and Jermaine Grace pounced on it at the UM 32. Denzel Perryman then crushed a Hokies running back and Grace pounced on that one as well at the UM 17.
> Virginia Tech finished with 262 yards of total offense (77 came on the final scoring drive of the game). That's the fewest yards Virginia Tech has put up since Alabama held them 212 in the 2013 season opener.
> Perryman led the Canes with 11 tackles. WQAM reported Perryman was hit hard in the ribs during the game, but fought through the pain. Safety Nantambu Fentress was next with nine tackles.
> UM had six tackles for loss including a pair of sacks (Anthony Chickillo, Grace each had one). Chickillo also batted a ball at the line of scrimmage.
"Takeaways, red zone stops and third down stops -- that's the difference," Golden said of his defense. "That's what we hadn't been doing altogether... You see how powerful it can be when we can do that.
""They got a little mojo there in the third quarter to open it up. I could see our guys were going for the ball. We tackled pretty well. For the most part the first guy on the scene was getting the tackle. We leveraged the screens really well. We put that to bed so it wouldn't become a problem. And then we pursued really well. Again, great effort, very active, very aggressive up front. I don't think we got many sacks, but we were around the quarterback a lot and altered a lot of throws."
> Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio called several blitzes with his linebackers early including the first two linebacker blitz I had seen from the Canes all season. It turned into a Jermaine Grace sack.
> On special teams, UM gave up a 58-yard kickoff return to open the second half (the seventh return of 30 yards or more this season). Golden said it was too low of a line-drive kick. But overall, the special teams units were very good. No bad snaps from the new long snapper Frank Gabriel and punter Justin Vogel was an unsung hero. He had three punts pinned inside the 20 including one on the one-yard line.
"We didn't want special teams to be a factor in this game," Golden told WQAM "We did a good job with that and obviously we won the other two phases."
> Miami was flagged only four times for 28 yards. They were flagged a season-high 13 times for 155 yards against Cincinnati two Saturdays ago.
> Carter Hucks, the 8-year-old Make-A-Wish kid from South Carolina who spent a week with the team before the Cincinnati game, was on the sidelines with the Hurricanes again Thursday. He's set to have a bone marrow transplant in the coming days.
"I asked him what he was doing next weekend," Golden told WQAM afterward. "He sat in here, he was on the field with us, came in our huddle. He's just tremendous. He's fun to be around."
Nothing like a road win with the boys!! 🙌— Brad Kaaya (@TrinidadBrad) October 24, 2014
Man that W feels good! 🙌🙌 proud of the squad!— Corn Elder (@AIR_CORN23) October 24, 2014
Great team win! That's what we bout boiiiiiiii 💯💂— Raphael Kirby (@killaXkirb) October 24, 2014