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Virginia Tech stunned by Cincinnati at FedEx Field

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Bearcats score TD with 13 seconds left

Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux reared back and threw Virginia Tech for a loop Saturday at FedEx Field.

Firing a 39-yard touchdown pass to senior Damon Julian with 13 seconds left to give Cincinnati a 27-24 win, Legaux sent a maroon-wearing crowd home unhappy to end a wild, seesaw game that saw four lead changes in the final nine minutes.

Virginia Tech (3-2) lost its fifth straight game in an NFL stadium, for the third time in as many tries in Hokie-friendly Landover, and the second time this year to an unranked team from the Big East, the conference it abandoned eight years ago.

After an error-filled three quarters with little offense, things heated up in the closing minutes as Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas directed a pair of touchdown drives. Freshman Michael Holmes culminated the first with a 3-yard touchdown run. With 1 minute, 49 seconds left, Thomas threw what appeared to be the winning 56-yard touchdown pass to wideout Corey Fuller.

But Legaux, victimized much of the afternoon by his slippery-fingered receivers, had the ultimate answer, taking Cincinnati (3-0) 85 yards in nine plays. The game-winner came on third and 10 as Julian beat two defenders up the left sideline and made the catch at the goal line, grabbing the ball just before he hit the ground. The play withstood a quick review by the officials, and the Hokies suffered a difficult loss.

After playing brilliantly in the first three quarters, containing the dual-threat ability of Legaux and keeping Virginia Tech in the game, the Hokies defense was burned badly on consecutive series to end the game. Before the winning touchdown play, Virginia Tech surrendered a 76-yard catch-and-run play by Cincinnati running back Ralph David Abernathy. The sophomore juked Tech cornerback Antone Exum to the ground and the Hokie safeties were nowhere to be found and Abernathy jetted to the end zone.

Legaux finished 19-for-42 for 376 yards and three touchdowns. Virginia Tech also yielded 76 yards on 17 carries by senior George Winn.

Thomas finished 17 of 30 for 242 yards and two interceptions. One was particularly costly, coming in the third period after a 50-yard completion to senior Marcus Davis brought the Hokies to the Cincinnati 3. Thomas threw high for senior tight end Randall Dunn. The ball went off his fingers and was picked off by senior Arryn Chenault.

The sputtering offense of Virginia Tech also was plagued by poor field position, and a rushing attack that struggled until the fourth period when Holmes (11 carries, 60 yards) shook loose and senior wideout Dyrell Roberts (5 carries, 51 yards) produced some big gains on end-around plays.

Notoriously slow-starting Virginia Tech, which was humbled two weeks ago at Pittsburgh, will try to rebound Saturday at North Carolina (3-2).

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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