Tulsa falls to Virginia Tech, 55-52

Posted at 9:13 PM, Dec 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-27 14:31:53-05

SHREVEPORT, La. -- Michael Brewer threw for 344 yards, Isaiah Ford had 227 yards receiving and coach Frank Beamer won his final game at Virginia Tech, 55-52 over Tulsa on Saturday night in the Independence Bowl.

The 69-year-old Beamer announced in November he would retire following the season. He finished with a 238-121-2 record at Virginia Tech over 29 seasons.

Virginia Tech (7-6) was playing in a bowl for the 23rd straight season. The first game of that streak also was in the Independence Bowl in 1993, when the Hokies beat Indiana 45-20.

This trip to Shreveport was filled with plenty of offense, but had more drama.

Tulsa (6-7) rallied from a three-touchdown deficit in the second half to pull to 55-52 with 3:47 left. Virginia Tech's Dadi L'homme Nicolas ended Tulsa's final drive with a sack of Dane Evans on fourth down.

The 107 points were the most in Independence Bowl history. Ford's 227 yards receiving on 12 catches set an Independence Bowl record.

Tulsa's Evans completed 27 of 44 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns. D'Angelo Brewer ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

A relaxed Beamer strolled onto the field about an hour before the game, smiling and waving to fans as the Hokies went through warmups.

Much of the coach's success with the Hokies was due to great defense and special teams, but his finale was mostly about offense.

Tulsa jumped out to a 14-7 lead, but Virginia Tech responded with 38 points over the next 19 minutes for the 45-21 advantage.

The Hokies' final touchdown during that stunning run came on a 67-yard punt return by Greg Stroman -- which was fitting considering the phrase `Beamer Ball' became common during the coach's long tenure because of Virginia Tech's reputation for game-changing special teams plays.

Tulsa's had a tough time on defense all season, giving up 38.6 points per game, including 66 in a loss to Memphis on Oct. 23.

But the brutal performance in the first half was bad even by the Golden Hurricane's standards. Virginia Tech controlled the line of scrimmage -- gaining 370 total yards in the first two quarters -- by capitalizing on Tulsa's missed tackles, blown assignments and shoddy special teams play.

Tulsa scored the final 10 points of the second quarter to pull to 45-31. The 76 combined points easily set the Independence Bowl first-half record.

The second-half scoring pace wasn't quite as frantic. Virginia Tech opened the third quarter with a clock-chewing drive that lasted 15 plays and more than seven minutes, ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by Trey Edmunds for a 52-31 lead.

The Hokies controlled most of the second half, but the Golden Hurricane scored on a 21-yard touchdown from Evans to Josh Atkinson and made the 2-point conversion to pull within 55-45 with 7:35 remaining. A 36-yard touchdown from Evans to Keyarris Garrett with 3:47 left made it 55-52.

But Tulsa's last gasp drive ended on Nicolas' sack, who broke through the line and slammed Evans to the turf.

The win gives Virginia Tech some momentum heading into its coaching transition. The Hokies hired Memphis coach Justin Fuente in late November to replace Beamer.


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