Va. Tech earns way to ACC final

Looking around at his mostly inexperienced teammates, Victor Harris probably felt more qualified than most to offer some perspective on the circuitous path Virginia Tech took to its second straight conference championship game.

"Last year, we had all those veterans and seniors and stuff like that that had been through the fire before," Harris said yesterday after the host Hokies got a 28-yard field goal from Dustin Keys in the fourth quarter and a clutch interception in a 17-14 victory against Virginia.


"This year, we just had to hang in there. Just for a bunch of younger guys to come around and play hard and come together for one purpose, that's a beautiful thing."

Missing, among others, seven defensive starters lost to graduation, the top four wide receivers and a former All-Atlantic Coast Conference tailback, the Hokies (8-4, 5-3) still managed to win the Coastal Division title and a date with Boston College next weekend in Tampa, Fla., with a berth in the Orange Bowl on the line.


Quarterback Tyrod Taylor ran for 137 yards, including a 73-yard burst on the drive to the winning field goal, and threw for a touchdown, while 280-pound Greg Boone ran for a score out of the Wild Turkey formation.

The Hokies sealed the victory with two defensive stands. First, Dorian Porch intercepted Marc Verica in the end zone with 2:15 to play.

Then the Hokies held the Cavaliers to negative yardage on the final series.

In the process, the Hokies found an answer for surprise Cavaliers quarterback Vic Hall and deprived Virginia (5-7, 3-5) of an opportunity to go to a bowl game for the second time in three years. In the middle year, they kept the Cavs out of the ACC championship game.

Hall, 5 feet 9, one of the nation's most productive high school quarterbacks before being switched to cornerback at Virginia, ran for 109 yards and touchdowns of 40 and 16 yards and seemingly set the Cavaliers up for at least a tying field-goal try when he ran 39 yards to the Hokies' 24-yard line late. But after two plays lost a yard, Verica came on facing a third-and-11 and threw toward the end zone, where Porch easily intercepted to end the threat.

The victory was Virginia Tech's fifth straight and ninth in the past 10 meetings.

No. 2 Florida 45, No. 23 Florida State 15: : Tim Tebow threw three touchdown passes, ran for 80 yards and one score, and the visiting Gators (11-1) thumped the Seminoles (8-4) to extend their winning streak to eight. Florida's win set up a 1-2 showdown with Alabama in Saturday's Southeastern Conference title game. The Gators have won five in a row against Bobby Bowden's team, and this one was nearly as big a laugher as last season's 45-12 victory in Gainesville. Florida scored on five of its first seven possessions, held the Seminoles without a touchdown for the first 2 1/2 quarters and again proved that the gap between the two programs is as wide as ever.

No. 18 Georgia Tech 45, No. 13 Georgia 42: : Roddy Jones rushed for 214 yards, including a decisive 54-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, and the Yellow Jackets (9-3) overcame a 16-point halftime deficit to beat the host Bulldogs (9-3) for the first time since 2000. The cold, rainy day wasn't a total victory for the visiting team, after Virginia Tech denied the Yellow Jackets a spot in the ACC title game. But Georgia Tech ended a streak of seven straight losses to Georgia by running for 409 yards out of the triple option offense. Jones, a redshirt freshman, averaged 16.5 yards a carry - a school record - and scored twice. After building a 28-12 halftime lead, the Bulldogs had no answer for Georgia Tech's triple-option offense, which gained 409 yards on the ground. Jones' 54-yard touchdown gave Georgia Tech a 45-35 lead with 7:13 remaining.


North Carolina 28, Duke 20: : T.J. Yates threw three touchdown passes, and Trimane Goddard intercepted a pass in the closing seconds to lift the Tar Heels (8-4, 4-4) over the host Blue Devils (4-8, 1-7). Shaun Draughn rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown and caught a score from Yates to help North Carolina break a two-game losing streak and beat Duke for the 18th time in 19 years. Thaddeus Lewis tried to rally Duke, but fourth-down pass in the final minute went to Goddard at the 4.

Wake Forest 23, Vanderbilt 10: : Alphonso Smith's ACC-record-tying 20th career interception set up Rich Belton's clinching touchdown run, and the host Demon Deacons (7-5) beat the Commodores (6-6) to boost their bowl prospects. Wake closed the regular season with a victory that should give them a school-record three consecutive bowl trips. Vanderbilt lost for the sixth loss in seven games after a 5-0 start.

North Carolina State 38, Miami 28: : Russell Wilson threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score as the host Wolfpack (6-6, 4-4) beat the Hurricanes (7-5, 4-4) to become bowl-eligible after four straight wins. Wilson threw for 220 yards and ran for 58 more for N.C. State, which pushed ahead for good on Wilson's 32-yard pass to Owen Spencer in the third quarter.

Clemson 31, South Carolina 14: : James Davis ran for three touchdowns as the Tigers (7-5) beat the in-state rival Gamecocks (7-5) for the sixth time in seven games.