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Sept. 29, 1999

Virginia Tech brings its vaunted defense across the state in hopes ofdefeating arch-rival Virginia for the first time in three seasons.

Virginia (3-1) has taken the Commonwealth Cup in each of the last twoseasons, narrowly defeating Virginia Tech each time. The No. 24 Cavaliers playhost to this chapter of the storied rivalry.

Virginia Tech (3-0) has ridden the nation’s top-ranked defense to theNo. 8ranking in the AP Top 25. The unit is allowing an average of seven points pergame.

Virginia Tech held Clemson to 17 yards rushing in a 31-11 rout last week.The Hokies returned an interception and a fumble for scores, recording threesacks and forcing Clemson to punt seven times.

Virginia Tech’s defense is yielding just 165 yards per game, tops in thenation. With such a dominating defense, the Hokies’ average offense has beenable to do enough to generate wins.

Heralded freshman quarterback Michael Vick has been mediocre so far,but hasfound a way to get the Hokies in the end zone. Vick was intercepted threetimeslast week, but rushed for 41 yards and completed seven of 17 pass attempts.

“I’m fortunate to have a defense like that,” Vick said. “Corey (Moore)always tells me, ‘There’s no pressure on you. Just do what you’ve got to do.'”

Moore and Virginia Tech’s defense had one of its poorest outings in yearsagainst Virginia last season. The Hokies had a 29-7 halftime lead before theCavaliers scored 29 points in the second half in a 36-32 victory.

Virginia displayed a similarly explosive offense last week in a 45-40victory at BYU. Thomas Jones ran for 210 yards and scored two touchdowns.

“I’ve been telling folks all season that this is a great back,” Virginiacoach George Welch said. “It’s not that the BYU defense is weak, just that hemakes people miss. He’s just a great back.”

Jones has rushed for 610 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Hislowestsingle-game total came against Clemson, when he was held to 97 yards in a33-14loss. It was the only time he was been held under 140 yards this season.

Virginia has won five of nine meetings with Virginia Tech in the 1990s.

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