New Orleans (AP) - The victory capped an impressive debut season for head
coach Brady Hoke, who has led the Wolverines (11-2) back to prominence with a
Quarterback Denard Robinson highlighted an otherwise
unspectacular night with touchdown passes of 45 and 18 yards to Junior
Hemingway, who took out game MVP honors.
"It shows our hard work," Hemingway said, his
voice cracking with emotion. "It shows everything we put in from Day One,
all the long days, long nights. Man, I'm telling you, it feels too good, man.
Too good." Virginia Tech (11-3) had more than double Michigan's total
yards, 377-184, and had 22 first downs to Michigan's 12 but had to settle for
four field goals in regulation by third-string kicker Justin Myer.
Virginia Tech came agonizingly close to snatching victory
in overtime. Receiver Danny Coaled nearly made a spectacular diving catch for a
touchdown, holding on to the ball for what was initially ruled a score, but the
play was overturned on video review, which showed the receiver landed on the
That play came on third down, and on the ensuing fourth
down, Myer missed a 37-yard field goal attempt, granting Michigan a chance to
The Wolverines used three conservative runs to set up
Gibbons's field goal from straight in front. As his kick sailed through,
Gibbons sprinted toward the Michigan sidelined and was mobbed by teammates.
Virginia Tech dominated most of the first half, taking a
6-0 lead on Myer's field goals of 37 and 43 yards, and could have led by more
had the Michigan defensive line not stuffed quarterback Logan Thomas on
fourth-and-1 on the Wolverines 4-yard line.
Michigan was shut out for most of the first half but
still managed to take the lead with a key play on the next set.
The Hokies' James Hopper was flagged for roughing the
punter on a failed block attempt, giving the Wolverines a first down on their
Robinson managed to yank his leg from a defender's grasp
and unleashed a long throw off of his back foot. Virgnia Tech safety Eddie
Whitley went for an interception but mistimed his leap, allowing Hemingway to
make the grab and dash into the end zone.
Michigan then got the ball right back on the ensuing
kickoff when Tech's Tony Gregory fumbled the return in a tackle and Michigan's
Delonte Hollowell recovered at the Hokies 26.
Michigan failed to get a first down and set up for what
would have been a 36-yard field goal if it hadn't turned into one of the
luckiest and wackiest plays of the bowl season.
The holder Drew Dileo was unable to get a clean hold and
threw the ball in desperation just before being slammed. The throw was set to
be intercepted by the Hokies' Kyle Fuller until he was bumped by a teammate.
Fuller wound up tipping the ball in the air and it was caught by Michigan long
snapper Jareth Glanda for a first down on the Tech 8.
Michigan didn't have time to convert that stroke of luck
into a touchdown, but was able to line up a chip shot field goal as time ran
out for a 10-6 halftime lead.
Hemingway staked Michigan to a 17-6 lead in the third
quarter when he jumped over an opponent for an 18-yard reception in the back of
the end zone.
Tech cut the lead to 17-9 on Myer's 36-yard field goal.
Tech then tied the game on a series kept alive by Thomas'
13-yard scramble on fourth and 11 from the Michigan 35. A few plays later,
Thomas powered in from a yard out, then lobbed a short pass to Marcus Davis for
a 2-point conversion to even the score at 17-17 early in the fourth quarter.
Virginia Tech fell behind late in regulation after
gambling on a fake punt. Michigan's Jake Ryan stopped it at the Tech 45,
leading to a short drive that set up Gibbons' go-ahead 39-yard field goal with
4 minutes left.
That was just enough time for the Hokies to tie it once
more, even though they had to start at their own 9 after a holding penalty on
the kickoff. Thomas marched the Hokies 83 yards in 3:58, setting up Myer's