MIAMI -- The Orange Bowl will most likely be remembered as Andrew Luck’s final college game, but it definitely will be one for the Virginia Tech defense to forget.
The Hokies came into the game ranked second in the ACC in points allowed, but were dominated in the second half, allowing 27 points, including big play after big play. The team completely fell apart after being only down one point at halftime, losing 40-12.
"We just kept pushing and pushing," said offensive guard David DeCastro. "We had to keep going until we broke them."
DeCastro and the rest of the offensive line opened up huge holes, allowing running back Jeremy Stewart to break off a career-best 60-yard run, while Stepfan Taylor finished with 114 yards. The success of the running game allowed Luck to pick apart the secondary with ease.
"The running backs hit the holes all day, sometimes the holes weren't there, but they kept at it," said guard Andrew Phillips. "That’s been a big motto for us this seasons, just keep at it and be patient."
Eventually the Hokies defense finally did break and the player that will be in the players and coaches nightmares is tight end Coby Fleener. The junior entered the game with only 22 catches this season, but ended the night with six receptions for 173 yards and three scores. Fleener was wide open all night, scoring on receptions of 41, 58 and 38 yards.
With a 19-12 lead late in the third quarter and the ball at its own 3, Taylor broke off a 56-yard run on a tremendous block from offensive lineman Andrew Phillips. The very next play Luck found Fleener for the first of his three touchdowns to break the game open.
"A couple of long plays against our defense, and then the game got away from us a little bit," said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer. "Had them backed up, and felt like if we just hold them, we’re one play from getting back in it. But then we got two scores down and it got away from us a little bit."
Not what you would expect from a Virginia Tech defense in what will go down as one of the worst bowl losses in school history.
"We just didn’t execute," said Hokies defensive tackle John Graves. "There were a lot of big plays and mental mistakes on our part. They outperformed us and outplayed us."