Patience pays off for Hokies in defensive thriller


COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Frank Beamer took No. 7 Virginia
Tech into hostile territory, hoping to find out just how good the
Hokies really are.

Playing in a stadium where no nonconference visitor had won
since 1988, facing a defense that allowed 33.5 rushing yards per
game, the seventh-ranked Hokies proved they're for real with a 13-3
victory over No. 19 Texas A&M (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) on Saturday.

"I couldn't be more proud,'' Beamer said. "We've beaten three
ranked opponents, but until you go up on the road and beat a good
team, that's what you can put your stamp on. We're going to enjoy
this one.''

Then, smiling and tilting his head toward the team bus, he
added: "That thing is going to be rocking on the way home.''

Over the previous two weeks, Virginia Tech (4-0) easily beat
14th-ranked LSU and then stomped No. 16 Marshall. Those games were
in front of adoring crowds in Blacksburg, as was an opening rout of
Arkansas State.

This one wasn't nearly as easy.

With only a few hundred orange-clad Hokies fans among the crowd
of 83,746, Tech got behind for the first time this season, didn't
go ahead until the third quarter then finally gained control in the
fourth quarter.

And it wasn't the offense, led by "The Untouchables'' backfield
of Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones, that came up with the biggest plays.
It was a no-nickname defense that came in with stats nearly as good
as Texas A&M's "Wrecking Crew.''

"We wanted to show we're right up there with the Wrecking
Crew,'' said linebacker Vegas Robinson, whose interception set up
the field goal that put Tech up 6-3 early in the third quarter.

The Hokies had two interceptions, a key fumble recovery and five
sacks -- two coming on consecutive plays by defensive ends Nathaniel
Adibi and Cols Colas, which pushed one of the Aggies' best drives
back to midfield and forced a punt.

On the ensuing drive, Bryan Randall threw a short pass to Ernest
Wilford. He bounced out of a tackle by Byron Jones and ran 52 yards
to the 1. Suggs plunged in from there, putting Tech up by 10 early
in the fourth quarter.

"Once we got that touchdown, we felt like we had it in better
control,'' said Suggs, who extended his streak of consecutive games
with a TD to 16.

Suggs ran 13 times for 51 yards, and Jones carried 15 times for
48 yards. They had been averaging a combined 202.3 yards.

Bryan Randall was 10-of-11 for 119 yards -- nearly half on
Wilford's burst -- as the Hokies gained just 248 yards.

In winning their road opener for the 10th straight year, the
Hokies became the first nonconference team to win at Kyle Field
since Alabama in 1988, back when Jackie Sherrill coached the

A&M (2-1) had been 29-0 at home against non-conference foes
under coach R.C. Slocum, including 5-3 there against Top 10 teams.

Tech had been averaging more than 45 points per game, mostly
because it had scored touchdowns on 14 of 15 drives inside the
opponent's 20-yard line. The Hokies got there four times against
A&M, but they only found the end zone once.

They settled for field-goal tries the other four times. Carter
Warley made kicks of 22 and 26 yards, missed from 21 and had a
22-yarder blocked. The block came after Willie Pile returned a
popped-up fumble 31 yards to the A&M 7 on the drive following
Suggs' touchdown.

"We had some opportunities that we didn't take advantage of,''
Beamer said. "We do that, and we could've had this game over a
little earlier.''

The Aggies' problems were on offense. Although they scored in
the first quarter for the first time this season -- getting a
43-yard field goal from Todd Pegram after a short drive -- they
couldn't score again and gained only 156 yards.

Slocum tried shaking things up by starting sophomore Dustin Long
at quarterback instead of Mark Farris, who had started the last 26
games. Then he went to heralded freshman Reggie McNeal after
halftime. He went back to Long after Suggs' touchdown.

"The total offensive numbers are disappointing,'' Slocum said.
"Sometimes you get into evaluating as though we screwed everything
up and it's our fault, but I think it was a combination of us not
doing well and them playing well. There's been a lot of teams that
have had trouble moving the ball against Virginia Tech this


ESPN Fan Shop Powered By

  • Nike Men's Virginia Tech Hokies Maroon/Orange Team Issue Performance PoloShop

  • adidas Youth Texas A&M Aggies #12 Maroon Replica Football JerseyShop