Beamer's uncharacteristic gamble dooms Virginia Tech against Michigan

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NEW ORLEANS — The most bizarre minute of football you're likely to witness erased a half of domination and sent them to the locker room trailing by four points.

An early, third-quarter turnover and touchdown deepened the hole to 11 points.

The head coach's brain cramp created a last-minute fire drill.

How would Virginia Tech's Hokies respond?

Did Tech deserve to be in this Sugar Bowl against Michigan? Or was a team that played a weak non-conference schedule and lost the ACC title game by four touchdowns going to be exposed on the big stage again?

Worse yet, would the Hokies fold in the second half as they did in last year's Orange Bowl loss to Stanford?

The answers would define their season.

To its credit, Tech didn't blink. The defense remained stout, and the offense forged two fourth-quarter ties to send the game to overtime.

There the Wolverines prevailed 23-20.

Frank Beamer's worst coaching decision in memory, a fake punt on fourth-and-1 from the Hokies' 48, set up a 39-yard field goal that gave the Wolverines a 20-17 lead.

Hey, if you're going to go on fourth down, line up and rely on Logan Thomas or David Wilson. Don't get cute, especially after a timeout.

It was completely out of character for Beamer and cost his team.

But Thomas was unfazed, marching Tech 83 yards to Justin Myer's tying, 25-yard field goal with two seconds remaining.

Myer's performance, in relief of suspended Cody Journell and Tyler Weiss, can't be overstated. The senior had never made a college field goal.

Tuesday he made his first four, including a 43-yarder that was the Hokies' longest this season. He missed from 37 in OT, just before Michigan converted its kick, but the young man was stellar regardless.

The naysayers will have a field day now. But this wasn't anything like Stanford or the ACC title game. This was a nasty defensive struggle with odd bounces.

Tech had dominated Michigan for much of the evening and was poised to take a two-score lead. But the Wolverines stuffed Thomas on a fourth-and-1 from the 4.

No problem with the decision to go or the play call. Both had served the Hokies well this season.

After Tech forced a punt, James Hopper roughed Will Hagerup to gift-wrap a first down for Michigan. Then came 60 whirlwind seconds that staggered the Hokies.

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