Cavaliers Lose to No. 22 Virginia Tech, 21-9
Nov 30, 2002
By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
BLACKSBURG, Va. – A return to an old formula for success, and a visit from one of its most heated rivals, was just what Virginia Tech needed to end its longest losing streak in a decade.
Lee Suggs ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns and the 22nd-ranked Hokies rediscovered their defense Saturday, holding Matt Schaub to 43 yards passing and beating Virginia for the fourth consecutive year, 21-9.
The Hokies (9-3) also turned a blocked punt into a touchdown in a return to their Beamerball roots a week before playing top-ranked Miami.
“We knew we were going to have to run,” said Suggs, who scored on runs on 4 yards in the second quarter and 5 yards with 5:08 remaining. “We came out with fire in our hearts.”
The game was especially emotional for Suggs and 12 other seniors making their final appearances at Lane Stadium, and Suggs seemingly ran harder than he had in weeks, ripping off 12-yard runs on his first two carries.
“When I was standing in the tunnel and they were introducing the seniors, it finally hit me that I wasn’t going to play in Lane Stadium anymore,” he said. “It gave me extra energy to play.”
The Hokies had gone through their longest losing streak since they dropped five in a row in 1992, coach Frank Beamer’s sixth season.
Virginia Tech did it with defense, holding the Cavaliers (8-5) to 203 yards.
“That’s what we’re used to,” said safety Willie Pile, allowing that Virginia might have been the perfect opponent to get the Hokies on track. “You’re going to see those guys at home. You’re going to see them at a party somewhere. They can’t say anything about football.”
It all started with a Hokies hallmark, a blocked punt.
Early in the second quarter, Justin Hamilton ran through the line and slapped Tom Hagan’s punt toward the end zone. Darryl Tapp picked up the loose ball 36 yards later and carried it 11 yards for a touchdown.
“It seemed to start everyone out on a good pace,” Tapp said. “The offense started playing better and the defense started stepping up.”
The play also rattled Hagan, who dropped the snap the next time he tried to punt and threw an 8-yard pass to Shernard Newby. The completion was Virginia’s longest of the half, but a yard short of a first down.
Virginia Tech followed with its only sustained drive of the half, going 61 yards in nine plays, ending with Suggs’ 4-yard scoring run. He extended his NCAA Division I mark to 25 straight games with a touchdown.
The Cavaliers (8-5), seeking their third consecutive victory against a Top 25 team, led 3-0 before the blocked punt but struggled throughout. The field goal came on an 18-yard drive set up by Willie Davis’ interception, and their touchdown drive was a 29-yarder after a fumble recovery.
Schaub, named the ACC’s player of the year earlier in the week, was 12-for-23 in difficult conditions. His longest completion was a 15-yard swing pass that Heath Miller took around the end for the touchdown.
“I don’t want to make excuses, but the wind played a factor in the game,” Schaub said. “A couple of passes got away from me, but that’s the way it goes. They had the same conditions. They just made more plays.”
Schaub did drive the Cavaliers to the Hokies 38 late in the third quarter, then saw his string of 109 passes without an interception end when Garnell Wilds picked off a pass near the end zone.
The game didn’t shed much light on either team’s bowl destinations. The Hokies seem likely to play in the Insight Bowl while the Cavaliers appear in line for the Tangerine or Continental Tire bowls.
The Hokies gained 272 yards on the ground, with Kevin Jones adding 91 on 15 attempts and Bryan Randall getting 67 on 14 carries. He attempted just 11 passes and completed only five, all in the first half.
Schaub did extend to 13 his string of games with a touchdown pass, and Miller set an ACC record by catching his ninth scoring pass of the season.