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(Saturday, December 4th)
Final Score: (12) Virginia Tech 44, (20) Florida State 33
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Tyrod Taylor threw three touchdown passes and added another score on the ground to lead 12th-ranked Virginia Tech to a 44-33 victory over No. 20 Florida State in the ACC Championship Game.
Taylor finished with 263 yards on 18-of-28 efficiency for the Hokies (11-2), who clinched their third conference title in the last four years and secured a berth in the Orange Bowl.
Virginia Tech has rattled off 11 consecutive victories after opening the season with losses to Boise State and FCS foe James Madison.
"Those two losses we had at the beginning of the year makes these 11 wins and the ACC Championship seem even greater," said Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer. "We're very appreciative, and I like these kids, I like what they're all about."
E.J. Manuel, starting behind center for Florida State in place of Christian Ponder, completed 23-of-31 passes for 288 yards but was picked off twice, one of which was returned by Jeron Gouveia-Winslow for a touchdown.
Ponder was held out because of a sore throwing elbow.
"For the most part, (Manuel) made plays late, competed well, kept his poise and composure," said Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. "I was very proud of the way he played in the game, I really was."
Ty Jones had three rushing touchdowns for the Seminoles (9-4), who had won 13 of the previous 14 meetings between the schools.
Nursing a 21-17 halftime lead, Taylor capped the opening drive of the third quarter with a 45-yard touchdown pass to Danny Coale.
The Virginia Tech defense forced a three-and-out by FSU, and David Wilson's 21-yard TD reception on the ensuing possession made it 35-17.
A one-yard plunge by Jones whittled the Seminoles' deficit to 35-24 with 1:44 remaining in the third quarter.
Taylor then took Virginia Tech 82 yards in 11 plays, and the ACC Player of the Year capped the drive by scrambling for a five-yard touchdown early in the fourth. The Hokies botched the extra point, which was returned by FSU linebacker Nigel Bradham for a defensive two-point conversion.
Manuel, though, threw an interception on the next Florida State possession that the Hokies converted into a 43-yard Chris Hazley field goal with 6:58 left in regulation.
The Seminoles got a late 20-yard touchdown pass from Manuel to Chris Thompson to make the final score a little more respectable.
A 32-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal staked FSU to an early 3-0 lead.
Virginia Tech was forced to punt on its first possession of the game, but its defense came through with a big play as Gouveia-Winslow hauled in a deflected Manuel pass and rumbled 24-yards to the end zone.
The Hokies needed just three plays to put up points on their next drive. After Taylor completed a five-yard toss to Ryan Williams, Darren Evans scampered 51 yards to the FSU nine-yard line before crossing the goal line on the following play.
Florida State trailed 14-10 after a two-yard TD run by Jones with 1:59 remaining in the first quarter.
Taylor's 19-yard TD pass to Jarrett Boykin put Virginia Tech up 21-10 near the five-minute mark of the second frame. The score capped a 13-play, 91-yard drive.
Jones struck again with 5:48 to play in the first half, this time from six yards out.
Coale caught six passes for a career-best 143 yards...Virginia Tech converted 13-of-18 third downs...The Hokies totaled 179 yards on the ground...Virginia Tech captured its fourth ACC championship since entering the conference in 2004.
12/05 02:20:15 ET