Michigan in sweet victory
The coach who grew up in Ohio but revered the Wolverines since childhood ended his first season in charge holding up the silver Sugar Bowl trophy amid fluttering maize and blue confetti. The Michigan band provided the soundtrack for the raucous celebration: the school’s familiar fight song.
Brendan Gibbons drilled a 37-yard field goal down the middle in overtime, lifting No. 13 Michigan to a 23-20 victory over 17th- ranked Virginia Tech at the Superdome on Tuesday night.
The victory capped an impressive debut season for Hoke, who has led the Wolverines (11-2) back to prominence with a BCS bowl victory. In his usual style, he also deflected the credit from himself onto the senior leaders of “Team 132,” as he calls the squad with a nod to the number of teams the historic football program has fielded.
“I’m just real proud, real proud of our seniors. Real proud of how they took this football team last January and molded it and did a tremendous job,” Hoke said, noting that only five Michigan teams have won 11 games in a season. “We always have a tremendous legacy of Team 132 that a lot of teams are going to have to try and match up to.”
Denard Robinson highlighted an otherwise unspectacular night with touchdown passes of 45 and 18 yards to game MVP Junior Hemingway.
“It shows our hard work,” Hemingway said, his voice cracking with emotion. “ It shows everything we put in from Day One, all the long days, long nights. Man, I’m telling you, it feels too good, man. Too good.”
It is fair to say that an unusual rough patch that saw Michigan endure two losing seasons in the previous three is history, but Michigan still has more work to do to become a national title contender. Virginia Tech gave the Wolverines all they could handle and might have won if not for some key miscues.
“I’m about half-sick right now,” Virginia Tech coach frank Beamer said. “ Too many mistakes. ... They weren’t stopping us; we were stopping ourselves.”
Virginia Tech ( 11- 3) had more than double Michigan’s total yards, 377-184, and had 22 first downs to Michigan’s 12 but settled for four field goals in regulation by thirdstring kicker Justin Myer.
However, Myer was unable to connect on his fifth try from 37 yards away in the opening possession of overtime.
Robinson finished 9 for 21 for 117 yards passing and threw an interception. He rushed 13 times for a seasonlow 13 yards.
“I feel like this was a team that didn’t quit and we just kept fighting,” Robinson said. “We held everybody accountable for what we had to do to win.”
Virginia Tech first- year starter Logan Thomas was 19 of 28 of 214 yards with one interception.
Thomas scored Tech’s only touchdown on a 1-yard keeper that tied the game at 17 — after a 2-point conversion — early in the fourth quarter.
Virginia Tech senior receiver Danny Coale, who ranks second all-time for the Hokies in catches and yards receiving, had eight catches for 117 yards, and nearly made a spectacular diving catch for a touchdown in overtime. Coale held on to the ball for what was initially ruled a score, but the play was overturned on video review, which showed the receiver narrowly landed on the sideline.