MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- It didn't always look pretty, but the Miami Hurricanes found a way to get it done.
Duke Johnson posted his second career 100-yard rushing game.
And that's all that matters.
"I'm excited, I felt like we healed up, we grew up, and holding them to 12 points is significant without Deon (Bush) and Denzel (Perryman), some other guys stepped up," head coach Al Golden said. "I'm real proud of their effort and the young guys aren't young anymore."
Johnson led the team with 100 rushing yards on 11 carries including a 7-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Johnson also returned two kicks for 118 yards and caught two passes for minus-1 yard. He has been dealing with a nagging turf toe injury in the past month, but didn't have any issues against the Hokies.
"This is the healthiest I've been all year," Johnson said. "I've been in treatment the last month, month and a half, so I'm basically at 100 percent now."
The crowd of 37,219 at Sun Life saw the Hurricanes snap a three-game losing streak while wearing an all-orange uniform for the first time since 2010 when they wore all-orange as part of Nike’s pro combat series.
"We loved it," Johnson said. "Just going in the locker room today and seeing the orange and orange gave the team a boost. When you feel good, you look good, you play good."
Mike James celebrates after his touchdown in the first quarter.
Miami (5-4, 4-2) remains in control of their own destiny in the ACC Coastal Division with conference games against Virginia and Duke remaining.
"It's critical (to be in first place)," Golden said. "I know everybody wants us to be national champions yesterday and get back to the BCS games and all of that, but the reality of it is the pathway through that is through the Coastal. It's almost like we have to re-educate our team and they have to understand that's how you have to get there. You get there by getting to Charlotte and having a fifty percent of going to a BCS game. That's what we have to do, we have to educate our team because our fan base doesn't really understand that right now. They look at the Notre Dame game and it's all in or bust. This game coming up against Virginia is critical."
Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3) lost for just the third time in 28 ACC games in November. Logan Thomas, who completed 23 of 25 passes for 310 yards and accounted for five touchdowns in last year’s game, rushed for 124 yards and passed for 199 while committing three turnovers.
Although Miami managed just three yards on 12 plays in the third quarter, they led 20-12 going into the fourth. The Hurricanes put together a scoring drive keyed by a 26-yard completion by Rashawn Scott and a 20-yard wide receiver pass from Phillip Dorsett to Stephen Morris down to the Hokies 7. Johnson scored on a 7-yard run on the next play pushing the Miami lead to 27-12 with 7:38 left.
"Nobody got down even when we sputtered on offense in the whole third quarter basically--my hats off to Virginia Tech, I thought they did a great job and a great scheme and gave us a lot of problems there," Golden said, "but our guys hung in there and had some big drives to end the game."
Heading into the fourth, Miami was outgained by 395-216 in total yards and 23-9 in first downs, but managed to hang on for an 18-point win.
Jake Wieclaw tacked on his third field goal of the game--a 37-yarder with 2:54 left--to close out the scoring. He also made field goals of 22 and 31 yards.
Virginia Tech trailed 20-12 in the third quarter and had an opportunity to cut into the lead, but Thomas lost a fumble on the 1-yard line, which was recovered by Luther Robinson.
Miami’s defense came up big on Virginia Tech’s first two possessions as Ladarius Gunter intercepted a pass by Thomas inside the redzone and Gabe Terry blocked a punt for Miami, which took over on the Virginia Tech 16.
UM took advantage of the field position from the blocked punt as Hurns caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Morris in the right corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Virginia Tech responded with a 22-yard field goal by Cody Journell. Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards and two plays later Morris found James for a 16-yard connection to give Miami a 14-3 lead.
As big as the plays were the Miami defense made early, they were equally bad in the second quarter as Thomas went untouched up the middle for a 73-yard touchdown run. Journell missed the extra point with Virginia Tech trailing 14-9.
Johnson’s 65-yard run led to a 22-yard field goal by Wieclaw. Back-to-back catches by Clive Walford for 30 and 26 yards help lead to a 31-yard goal by Wieclaw as Miami stretched their lead to 20-9.
Virginia Tech closed the first half on a 10-play, 57-yard drive resulting in a 20-yard field goal by Journell as Miami went into the break leading 20-12.
"There were a couple redzone opportunities that we didn't convert early or it could have been even bigger at the half," Golden said.
NOTES: S Deon Bush has been dealing with stingers lately and suffered another in the second quarter and did not return. … LB Denzel Perryman (right ankle) battled through the injury he suffered in practice earlier in the week and played, but was ruled out for the game in the third quarter. … Former Miami coaches Jimmy Johnson and Howard Schnellenberger were in attendance.