After loss to Cincinnati, Virginia Tech doesn't appear capable of rebound


Stubborn as ever, Frank Beamer stressed the upside. An offense that finally showed a pulse. A freshman tailback who ran powerfully. A defense that held valiantly — until …

Maybe he's trying to convince himself. Maybe he's trying to convince fans and, most important, players that this season, like 1995, 2008 and 2010, can be salvaged after devastating defeat.

Good luck with that.

Beamer's Virginia Tech football team hit crisis mode Saturday with a 27-24 loss to Cincinnati at FedEx Field.

Per their 2012 MO, the Hokies staggered for a half on offense, untenable against an above-average opponent. Then the defense, with the game in the balance, collapsed, allowing 214 fourth-quarter yards.

"It hurts, man," linebacker Bruce Taylor said. "Deep."

Bet it does.

Tech had this one pilfered when Logan Thomas connected with Corey Fuller on a 56-yard touchdown pass with 1:49 remaining. The Hokies led by four, and the Bearcats had no timeouts.

As he did in the opener against Georgia Tech, Thomas appeared to have rescued Virginia Tech.

Nine plays and 85 yards later, with 13 seconds left, Cincinnati was celebrating the decisive touchdown, a 39-yard go-route from Munchie Legaux to Damon Julian, who got behind All-ACC cornerback Kyle Fuller and made a circus catch in the end zone.

"I thought we had it a couple of times," Beamer said.

The first time was when Michael Holmes' 3-yard run gave the Hokies a 17-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter. An offense that generated 72 yards and two first downs in a putrid first half was humming, and the defense was smothering.

That lasted all of 46 seconds. Legaux hit Ralph Abernathy IV on a wheel route — freshman nickel back Michael Cole missed the coverage — and Antone Exum whiffed on an open-field tackle at the 50, capping a grim day for him that included four major penalties.

Still, this from Beamer: "There's some positive things that came out of this. Just a tough way to lose."

Beamer also harped on the ACC schedule ahead, on how the Hokies (3-2, 1-0) can learn from non-conferences losses to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and return to the league title game.

Tech rebounded similarly in 2008 and '10. In 1995, the Hokies overcame an 0-2 start to win the Big East and Sugar Bowl.

These Hokies don't appear nearly as equipped on the offensive line. Their tackling is surprisingly weak, though Saturday wasn't nearly as bad as at Pitt. And their all-conference quarterback, Thomas, is struggling.

Thomas carries additional burdens this season without the likes of tailback David Wilson and receivers Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin. But that doesn't fully explain his regression.

More than once Saturday Thomas misread coverages and failed to spot an open Marcus Davis. The Hokies' leading receiver didn't hide his frustration.

"I was so into the game, it was kind of getting to me," Davis said. "At the time, I was a little upset."

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