CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Frank Beamer and his coaching staff aren't going anywhere for a few more weeks.
Joey Slye kicked a 41-yard field goal with 1:38 left and Virginia Tech beat Virginia 23-20 on Saturday, giving Beamer one more game to coach before he ends his 29-year coaching career at his alma mater. It will be the Hokies' 23rd consecutive season ending in a bowl game.
"I told them in there, I really appreciate them letting me be a part if this thing," the 69-year-old Beamer said.
The dramatic victory came a week after the Hokies (6-6, 4-4 ACC) lost Beamer's final home game to North Carolina in overtime. But they didn't let him down on the road in beating the Cavaliers for the 12th consecutive time.
"At the end of the day, we just really wanted to win this one for Coach Beamer," quarterback Michael Brewer said.
Brewer was sacked three times in the first quarter and a half, once being very slow to get up, but got better protection the rest of the way.
"I feel like this game took about five years off my life," said Brewer, who was 15 for 29 for 237 yards with one interception.
"Relentless. Love that word," Beamer said after his team rallied from second-half deficits of 13-6 and 20-13 before holding on defense and driving for the winning field goal. "I thought we got down, found a way to come back, got down, found a way to come back."
With Beamer set to retire, there have been reports that Memphis coach Justin Fuente will replace him. Fuente and Tech's athletic director, Whit Babcock, said the reports are premature. Babcock briefly addressed reporters after the game, and while he did not comment on the validity of the reports of a deal with Fuente, he said that they are "not official at this time" and that Beamer deserved all the attention.
Beamer and his staff will coach the bowl game, Babcock said.
The game could have also marked the end for Virginia coach Mike London. The Cavaliers (4-8, 3-5) had already failed to qualify for a bowl and losing to their state rival in a stadium that seemed to have as many Virginia Tech fans as Cavaliers' fans surely won't help.
London, who said he will meet with athletic director Craig Littlepage "whenever I'm called to meet him," said he is at peace.
"There are consequences for many things, but I told them, `You're going to be husbands, fathers, sons, employees and employers for much longer than they will be football players," he said, his voice cracking with emotion. "Your identity is not tied to being just a football player.
"I understand that we are graded by wins and losses, but you're so much more than that."
On the Hokies' winning drive, which took five minutes off the clock, Brewer hit Isaiah Ford for 21 yards. Then Brewer extended the drive by gaining 2 yards on a third-and-1 quarterback sneak near midfield and the Hokies gained 28 yards on five carries by Travon McMillian.
Slye, who hit earlier field goals of 48 and 44 yards, made it a perfect day with his game-winner.
The game was a punting contest with a few field goals sprinkled in until the third quarter when Albert Reid cut through the left side of the line and went 57 yards untouched for a touchdown and 13-6 lead for Virginia.
On the next play, Brewer hit tight end Ryan Malleck over the middle, where he shed a tackle by safety Quin Blanding and went 71 yards to the 4. Two plays later, Brewer opened the fourth quarter by hitting Sam Rogers for 3 yards and the touchdown.
The Cavaliers responded by driving 90 yards in 12 plays, with Johns hitting Canaan Severin for 27 yards and the touchdown. The play was initially ruled an incompletion, but the call was overturned after an official review.
The Hokies needed six plays to pull even again. Brewer hit Ford for 38 yards early in the drive, and then found him again for 32 yards and the touchdown on a third-and-15 play.
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