MIAMI (AP) -Aqib Talib and Kansas didn't look too nervous at the start, and the Jayhawks withstood a threat by Virginia Tech in the third quarter of the Orange Bowl on Thursday night with a big play that helped them carry a 17-14 lead into the fourth.
The Hokies, known for their special teams prowess, made it a close game the first time they touched the ball after halftime. Eddie Royal fielded a punt at his 16, ran right, lateraled to Justin Harper on a reverse and he ran 84 yards for the touchdown.
The play made it 17-14 and energized the Hokies defense, which forced the Jayhawks to punt on the ensuing series before the offense marched downfield again.
The drive stalled at the Kansas 8, and Jud Dunlevy's 25-yard field goal try was blocked by Joe Mortensen.
The Jayhawks had a golden opportunity to pad their lead later, getting a 22-yard pass to Micah Brown from Brandon McAnderson on a fake punt to keep a drive alive, and then a 28-yard strike from Todd Reesing on the next play to get it to the 1-yard line.
Then, just as quickly, they gave the opportunity away.
McAnderson fumbled on the next play, Ryan Cantrell recovering for the Jayhawks at the 5 and then drawing a 15-yard personal foul penalty. A holding call on the next play made it first and goal from the 30, and D.J. Parker intercepted on the next play.
Earlier, it was the Jayhawks making the big plays to take an early lead.
Talib returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown and the Jayhawks got off to a fast start in their first Bowl Championship Series game, grabbing a 17-7 halftime lead.
The Jayhawks (11-1) had four sacks in the first quarter, throwing freshman Tyrod Taylor for losses of 11 and 8 yards on his first two plays as part of the Hokies quarterback rotation. On the Hokies' next series, Talib anticipated a throw by Taylor and stepped in front of Harper for an easy return down the sideline.
In between, Reesing led a 13-play drive on the Jayhawks' opening series to the Hokies 27, but they had to settle for a field goal try and Scott Webb missed.
In the much anticipated matchup between Kansas' highly rated offense and Tech's equally vaunted defense, Reesing and the Jayhawks had the upper hand for much of the first half.
The Kansas defense also made big plays, with Chris Harris intercepting Sean Glennon in Hokies territory in the second quarter to set up Webb's 32-yard field goal.
After the Hokies went three-and-out, Reesing and the Jayhawks went to work again. The 10-play, 59-yard drive was highlighted by a 7-yard pass to Marcus Henry on a fourth-and-1 from the Hokies 39, and a 13-yard pass to Henry on a third down for the touchdown.
That made it 17-0, and the Hokies fans were almost silent.
Tech tailback Branden Ore, who was suspended for the first quarter for being late to a practice, carried 11 times for 49 yards on the ensuing drive for Virginia Tech. He finished it off with a 1-yard TD run with 1:24 left in the second.
Virginia Tech (11-2), like Kansas, came into the game seeking its first 12-win season. But the Hokies seemed more likely to be comfortable in the big game atmosphere.
Virginia Tech has played in five major bowls and two Atlantic Coast Conference championship games in the past 13 years, while the Jayhawks were making their first appearance in a major bowl in 39 years, since the 1969 Orange Bowl.
Royal returned the opening kickoff 59 yards for the Hokies to the Kansas 41. But after Glennon hit Harper for 11 yards and a first down at the Jayhawks 26, Taylor replaced Glennon and Kansas defense teed off on him.
Russell Brorsen sacked the running half of the quarterback rotation for 11 yards on the first play, and Mortensen got him for 8 yards on the next play.
Two plays later, the Hokies punted.
Taylor also replaced Glennon after two runs for 12 yards by Kenny Lewis Jr. on the Hokies' second possession. Two plays after Taylor came on and hit Royal for 11 yards and another first down, Talib read him perfectly, jumped an out pattern and went untouched down the sideline.
The Hokies later tried a 48-yard field goal by Dunlevy, but it was short.

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