Virginia Tech rolls past Cincinnati to claim Military Bowl title


Coleman named MVP after record-setting performance

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (HokieSports.com) - J.C. Coleman set a new Virginia Tech bowl record for rushing yards and Joey Slye booted four field goals as the Virginia Tech football squad wrapped up the 2014 season with a 33-17 win over the University of Cincinnati Saturday to claim the Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The win gave the Hokies their seventh win of the season and assured them of their 22nd straight winning season.

“I know 7-6 isn’t what our fans wanted or us as coaches, but the toughness and resiliency that our guys have shown while ignoring the outside noise throughout the season,” acting head coach Shane Beamer said. “To come out there and play like they did today I couldn’t be any happier for a group of kids.”

Cincinnati got off to a hot start offensively, moving up and down the field, but could only convert its 300 yards of first-half offense into 10 points. After Gunner Kiel connected with Chris Moore for a 31-yard touchdown pass, Michael Brewer led the Tech offense down the field for a score on Coleman’s 1-yard plunge to tie it up. Early in the second quarter, Slye connected on a 45-yard field goal and later hit a Virginia Tech bowl and Military Bowl record 49-yard field goal to end the first half.

The Hokies got the ball first in the second half and again went right down the field as Brewer hit tight end Ryan Malleck from 1-yard out to give Tech a 20-10 lead. With the Bearcats on the move, Tech’s defense swung the momentum to its side for good as linebacker Deon Clarke came blitzing up the middle to sack Kiel. The ball popped loose and was scooped up by defensive tackle Nigel Williams. Williams rumbled 26 yards, but fumbled the ball and freshman Greg Stroman picked it up, returning it to the goal line before being driven into the end zone for a wild score.

“Firstly, I was trying to get the ball and not fall as I did it,” Williams said. “Unfortunately the running back ran me down, but I trusted the guys behind me to pick it up and finish the play…I had a little flashback to my tight end days when I picked the ball up.”

“I was going to go block,” Stroman said. “I saw him pick it up and I was running after him to go block. Then it just came loose and I was in the right place at the right time, just trying to get in there. He [the Cincinnati player] was trying to rip at the ball and I was just trying to get in there. My teammates helped to push me in.”

Slye would connect on two more field goals and Cincinnati would score in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough as the Hokies completed the victory over the co-champs of the American Athletic Conference.

Coleman was named MVP after running for 157 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. The 157 yards set a new Tech bowl record for yards, surpassing Kevin Jones and Darren Evans, who each ran for 153 yards in a game.

Tech’s defense allowed 489 yards of UC offense, but intercepted Kiel twice and clamped down in big situations to thwart drives.

Slye’s four field goals tied the school record for made field goals in a bowl game. Justin Meyer hit four field goals in the 2012 Sugar Bowl against Michigan.

The crowd of 34,277 was the second-largest in Military Bowl history, consisting mostly of Tech fans.

“There were times I couldn’t even hear on my headset the crowd was so loud,” Shane Beamer said. “It was like Lane Stadium out there.”

Head coach Frank Beamer was in the press box for the game after undergoing throat surgery, marking just the second time in his 28-year tenure he wasn’t on the sidelines.

“We had two objectives that we wanted to accomplish,” said offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. “We wanted to win for the seniors and then win for Coach Beamer.”

Virginia Tech will open the 2015 season on Sept. 7 at home against Ohio State University on Labor Day night.

“It’s always great to end on a win. We’re just going to keep moving forward and I’m excited to work hard in the offseason to get ready for next year,” Stroman said.