COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP

Virginia Tech wins wild one in Beamer’s last game

The Sports Xchange

December 26, 2015 at 10:14 pm.

Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Frank Beamer celebrates with defensive end Dadi Lhomme Nicolas (90) and cornerback Greg Stroman (3) after Stroman returns a punt for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Independence Stadium. Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Frank Beamer celebrates with defensive end Dadi Lhomme Nicolas (90) and cornerback Greg Stroman (3) after Stroman returns a punt for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Independence Stadium. Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

SHREVEPORT, La. — Virginia Tech and Tulsa put together one of the most offensive bowls in Shreveport (La.) history, while the Hokies won Saturday’s record-setting 2015 Camping World Independence Bowl 55-52.

The Hokies appeared to put the game away when they put together a 15-play, 81-yard scoring drive to open the second half to go in front by three scores. But Tulsa roared back in the fourth quarter to get within 55-52 and in control of the ball with two minutes remaining. But a bone-crushing sack by Virginia Tech’s Dadi Nicolas on fourth down with 1:17 left ended the threat.

The game was the career finale for Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, who announced in November he was retiring after 29 years in Blacksburg, Va. His first bowl game came in the 1993 Independence Bowl, when his Hokies defeated Indiana 45-20. Virginia Tech (7-6) played in 23 consecutive bowl games under Beamer’s direction, but had to defeat Virginia 23-20 in the 2015 regular-season finale to extend the streak.

Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery was coaching the Hurricane (6-7) in a bowl game for the first time. Tulsa was playing in its third I-Bowl and has yet to get a win. They lost 20-16 to McNeese State in the inaugural I-Bowl in 1976 and 27-24 to Oregon in the 1989 affair.

Among the records set on Saturday were most points in a first quarter by two teams (45), most points in a first half by two teams (76), most points in a game by two teams (107), most catches by a receiver (13), most yardage by a receiver (202) and most rushing touchdowns by a team (5). The teams also combined for a record 947 total offensive yards, topping the previous record of 912 set by South Carolina and Missouri in 2005.

Announced attendance was 31,289, the lowest attendance since the 1988 I-Bowl between Southern Miss and UTEP, when 20,242 watched the contest.

All-ACC wide receiver Isaiah Ford led the way for the Hokies with a memorable night that included a 75-yard touchdown catch from Michael Brewer. The sophomore became Virginia Tech’s record holder for reception yardage in a season by vaulting over the 1,000-yard mark, while moving into third place on Tech’s career reception list.

Tulsa receiver Keyarris Garrett became the NCAA receiving champ in the game.

After the record point output in the first half, the two teams settled into a more mundane second half, scoring just 13 points after the break.

The first half was memorable due to the record-setting scoring compiled by the Hokies and the Hurricane. The combined 76 points was easily the most in the bowl’s 40 years. The previous record for most points in a half was 45 by LSU and Michigan State in 1995.

Tech led 45-31 at the break thanks to 188 yards on 10 receptions by Ford, who seemed to do what he wanted against the Hurricane secondary. The Hokies also had scores by Travon McMillian (51 and 1 yards), Sam Rogers (14 yards), Bucky Hodges (16 yards), Greg Stroman (67-yard punt return), and Joey Sly (27-yard field goal).

Tulsa actually took a brief 7-0 lead on a 48-yard run by D’Angelo Brewer, who also added the final score of the brutal first half on a 10-yard run with 20 seconds remaining. In between those scores, the Hurricane got scores from Zack Langer (2 yards), Bishop Louie (9-yard reception from Dane Evans) and Redford Jones (29-yard field goal).

The teams combined for 733 yards in the first half with the total nearly evenly divided.

NOTES: Virginia Tech and Tulsa put together the highest-scoring first quarter and first half in the history of the Independence Bowl by putting up a combined 45 and 76 points, respectively. The previous first-quarter record was 28 by Louisiana Tech and Louisville in 1977. The 45 points was greater than the final score in 18 previous I-Bowls and equaled the final score in the 2014 I-Bowl featuring Miami and South Carolina. The previous record for most points in a half was 45 by LSU and Michigan State in 1995. … Virginia Tech freshman Travon McMillian needed 39 yards entering Saturday’s Camping World Independence Bowl to surpass the 1,000-yard rushing mark. On his first tote, he went 51 yards untouched up the left sideline for a Hokie score to knot the game at 7-7 just over two minutes into the contest. McMillian becomes the first Tech freshman since Ryan Williams in 2009 to reach that mark. … Hokie sophomore Isaiah Ford needed just 26 receiving yards entering Saturday’s contest to set the Virginia Tech’s single-season total yardage record. He had three receptions on the Hokies’ first two possessions with the third going for a 75-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14 at the time. With nine minutes remaining in the first half, Ford already had 178 receiving yards.