SHREVEPORT, La. -- It was tougher than it needed to be, but Virginia Tech sent Frank Beamer out in style.
The Hokies held on for a 55-52 win over Tulsa in a record-setting Camping World Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. Virginia Tech held off Tulsa's furious fourth-quarter rally to send its legendary coach out with a win.
Here's how it happened:
How the game was won: The Hokies' offense began the game on fire and scored on seven straight possessions to start the game, with touchdowns on six of those possessions. Tulsa matched them initially by scoring touchdowns on its first two possessions, but the Hokies' defense buckled down to force Tulsa to punt on four of its next five chances, while Virginia Tech's offense continued its lethal efficiency. Tulsa rallied in the final quarter and scored 14 unanswered points in four minutes, but the Hokies' defense, led by Dadi L'homme Nicolas, stuffed the Golden Hurricane's attempt to complete a comeback on their final drive. Nicolas had the game-clinching sack on Tulsa's fourth down attempt, as well as a half-sack earlier on the drive.
Player of the game: Virginia Tech receiver Isaiah Ford was the best player on the field. The Hokies' All-ACC pass-catcher finished with 12 receptions for 227 yards and one touchdown. He added three carries for 23 yards. Ford's first-half numbers looked like a game-ending tally, with the sophomore amassing 10 receptions for 188 yards and one score in the first 30 minutes alone. In Beamer's first bowl win, in 1993, Antonio Freeman led the Hokies with five receptions for 66 yards and one touchdown.
Unsung hero: Even though he is considered the face of Virginia Tech football, it's fair to call Frank Beamer an unsung hero. His impact on the Hokies' football program, the university and college football as a whole won't be forgotten anytime soon. The Hokies sent him off in style by coming up with the key defensive plays to secure a bowl win to cap Beamer's 29-year stint as head coach of Virginia Tech.
What the win means for Virginia Tech: Beamer earned his 280th career win and finished with a 280-144-4 career record, including a 238-121-2 record at Virginia Tech. The Hokies finished 7-6 for the third time in four seasons.
What the loss means for Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane finished with a losing record for the third straight season, but Tulsa's six regular-season wins were more than the past two seasons combined (5). Phillip Montgomery finished his first season in charge with a bowl appearance, albeit a disappointing defeat. But Tulsa's late rally was a clear sign Montgomery has instilled a "never quit" attitude in his team, which outscored Virginia Tech 15-3 in the final quarter.