Virginia Tech 45, East Carolina 28
September 7, 2000
by Will Stewart, HokieCentral.com
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VT-FG Warley 46
Greenville, NC - The anticipated battle between Michael Vick and David Garrard never materialized, and instead, the Hokies bludgeoned the Pirates with special teams and defense.
A rabid ECU crowd and a fired-up Pirate football team were no match for a Hokie football team that came into the game featuring much-hyped Heisman Trophy candidate Michael Vick, but fell back on its old habits of defense and special teams to pull out a convincing win.
Tech put the Pirates away early with 31 straight points in a 13 minute and 26 second span that bridged the first and second quarters. The Hokies got off to a sluggish start offensively, but the defense and special teams stepped in with big plays and touchdowns to spot Tech to the 31-0 lead.
Tech scored two touchdowns directly from the special teams on a blocked punt return by Cory Bird and an 87-yard punt return by Andre Davis. The Hokie offense was also set up for two other short touchdowns when ECU muffed an early punt snap and when defensive tackle Chad Beasley intercepted an ECU pass deep in Pirate territory.
Tech's first score, a field goal, came after ECU fumbled a poor snap when attempting to punt, turning the ball over to Tech on the Pirate 35 yard line. The Hokies advanced the ball to the 29 and got a 46-yard field goal from Carter Warley for a 3-0 lead with 7:41 to go in the first quarter.
The Hokies posted their first touchdown of the game just over a minute later when Wayne Ward blocked an ECU punt and Cory Bird picked it up and returned it 9 yards for a TD.
After the two teams traded possessions, Tech defensive tackle Chad Beasley experienced a lineman's dream when he picked off a David Garrard pass. Beasley almost returned the interception for a touchdown, but he was tackled on the ECU 17 yard line.
Beasley's interception was set up on a great play by defensive end Nathaniel Adibi, who flushed ECU quarterback David Garrard from the pocket and then chased him down from behind, hitting Garrard as he threw. The ball went directly to Beasley, who caught it cleanly for the second interception of his career.
Two plays later, Andre Kendrick scored from the 14 yard line with 2:18 to go in the first quarter, and Tech led 17-0.
The Hokies weren't done yet with the reeling Pirates. ECU punted on their next possession, and Tech took over on the ECU 49. The Hokies went on a 4-play drive from there that featured a 37 yard burst by Lee Suggs, and Tech scored on a 7-yard run by fullback Jarrett Ferguson with 12:02 to go in the second quarter.
ECU drove from their 24 to the 50 yard line on their next possession but again had to punt, and Tech's Andre Davis burst up the middle of the ECU coverage and peeled off an 87-yard return for a touchdown. Before the Pirates knew what had hit them, it was 31-0 with 9:15 to go in the second quarter. The Hokies took that lead into the locker room at half time.
ECU came out firing in the second half and sandwiched two touchdowns around a three-and-out offensive series by Tech. The Pirates' first drive was a 16-play, 92-yard affair that ate up 6:40 from the clock and ended with a 4-yard TD pass from Garrard to Corey Floyd.
ECU's second TD came much faster and easier, on a 37-yard pass from Garrard to Keith Stokes with 4:08 to go in the third quarter. On the play, Tech safety Willie Pile gambled and tried to make an interception in the flat. When he missed it, Stokes caught the ball and raced to the end zone untouched.
That made it 31-14, Tech, and the ECU crowd was back in it. But the Hokies showed why it's almost impossible to come back on them in that situation, as they responded with a 3-play, 74-yard drive that took less than a minute off the clock. Lee Suggs scored from 56-yards out when he blew through a huge hole off-tackle and accelerated past the ECU defenders for the score.
The Hokies iced the game just 3 minutes and 16 seconds later on a 23-yard dart from Michael Vick to Browning Wynn that made the score 45-14 and killed any thoughts of an ECU comeback with 14:55 still remaining in the game.
From that point on, the backups took over. ECU scored an offensive touchdown on a 1-yard run by Leonard Henry with 3:39 to go, and on a 51-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Dominque Hatcher with 54 seconds remaining.
The two late TD's helped the Pirates avoid total embarrassment, but the fact is, this was an old-fashioned Virginia Tech victory where special teams and defense struck quickly for demoralizing turnovers and touchdowns. Vick wasn't much of a factor in the game, going 9-15 passing for 106 yards and a touchdown, plus running for 13 yards on 6 attempts.
Suggs led the Hokies in rushing with 122 yards on just 11 carries, giving him 212 yard in his first two games as a starter. For the game, the Pirates outgained the Hokies 418 to 311 and held the ball 36:49 to Tech's 23:11. But mistakes in the kicking game and three interceptions doomed ECU to defeat.
The Pirates were also undisciplined in their play, racking up three personal foul penalties and generally letting their emotions get the best of them in more than one instance.
ECU knew the Hokies were bringing an offense and a Heisman Trophy candidate to Greenville. While they were busy watching Vick and company, somebody let the Tech defense and special teams sneak in the back door and blindside them.
RUSHING: Virginia Tech-Suggs 11-122, Kendrick 6-34, Ferguson 3-18, Vick 6-13, Burnell 2-12, W Ward 4-5, Briggs 1-5, Easlick 1-minus 1, Team 2-minus 3. East Carolina-J Wilson 14-41, Garrard 16-27, Henry 3-11, Alston 3-9, Gilliam 1-6, Team 2-minus 7.
PASSING: Virginia Tech-Vick 9-15-0-106, Meyer 0-1-0-0. East Carolina-Garrard 22-38-2-296, Alston 1-9-1-35.
RECEIVING: Virginia Tech-Andre Davis 4-41, Johnson 2-20, Wynn 1-23, E Wilford 1-11, Witten 1-11. East Carolina-Stokes 5-124, Morris 5-48, Burns 3-47, Yates 2-27, M White 2-26, A Harris 2-13, Henry 1-35, Powell 1-6, Floyd 1-4, J Wilson 1-1.
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