MIAMI GARDENS — It wasn’t an easy decision for Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente to go for the touchdown in the final minutes of Saturday night's 42-35 win over Miami.
Fuente weighed his options when the offense got the ball down to Miami’s 3-yard line with about 90 seconds left on the clock.
“There’s a lot of ways to screw that up, quite honestly,” Fuente said.
The Hurricanes scored 21 unanswered to tie the game 35-35 on Saturday night. Fuente considered trying to run down the clock, but opted to go for the score from near the goal line with a fresh set of downs and two timeouts.
Running back Deshawn McClease scored and Miami got the ball back with 1:03 to go.
“I just felt like taking one shot to hand the ball off in the middle and see what happened and then we could play it from there, was kind of my thought,” Fuente said.
Miami coach Manny Diaz was worried that Tech might try to settle for a field goal and called for a "surrender" defense on the play to let McClease score. Fuente might had made a different decision had Tech been out of timeouts.
“Where you get nervous is when you don’t have timeouts, because you have to run field goal unit on, all that sort of stuff,” Fuente said. “So, we had timeouts, if I’m not mistaken, we had two. You got a little bit of leeway there. my thought was, we’ll hand it off once and then see what happens and we popped it in.”
Fuente's decision almost backfired when the Hurricanes carved up Tech’s secondary to get down the field — Perry completed a 20-yarder to Dee Wiggins and a 16-yarder to K.J. Osborn — and a personal foul on freshman defensive tackle Mario Kendricks didn’t help matters.
Miami got two chances to tie the game from Tech’s 10-yard line with five seconds to go. Fuente knew he might be second-guessed about the decision, but didn’t regret the call.
“There’s a lot of ways you can play it,” Fuente said. “My first thought was to center the ball and get ready for the field goal but the other decision you can make is to call a run and tell him not to score, in order to get the ball down there as close as you can. I didn’t feel good about any of that. Messing with all that stuff.”