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Hokies stay on perfect course

10/26/2002

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Quarterback Bryan Randall is almost an
afterthought for No. 3 Virginia Tech.

Not Saturday.

Temple shut down standout tailbacks Kevin Jones and Lee Suggs,
so Randall made perhaps the biggest play of the season when he hit
Doug Easlick for a 32-yard touchdown on the last play of the third
quarter to help the Hokies beat surprising Temple 20-10.

"Over the past couple of weeks, we've been throwing it a little
bit more and more and more,'' Randall said. "I'm getting more
confident, I think my coaches are getting more confident and my
receivers are getting a little bit more confident that we can move
the ball by passing.''

The Hokies (8-0, 3-0 Big East), whose offense has been dominated
by Suggs and Jones, led only 10-3 when Randall hit Easlick over the
middle as he crossed into the end zone.

It was just the fifth touchdown pass of the season for Randall,
who also threw two interceptions and fumbled once. Randall went
13-of-20 for 146 yards, and scrambled nine times for another 47
yards.

"Each game, he's growing and gaining more confidence,'' said
Suggs, who was held to 47 yards on 19 carries.

The Owls (3-5, 1-2), who posted one of the biggest upsets in
school history when they beat the Hokies 28-24 here in 1998, packed
the line on defense, intent on stopping Suggs and Jones and making
Randall beat them.

Defensive tackle Dan Klecko said stopping the run was the Owls'
main focus, and Randall's playmaking made it backfire.

"He reminds me of another quarterback they used to have,'' he
said, referring to former Virginia Tech and Atlanta Falcons star
Michael Vick.

The Owls allowed Jones only 72 yards on 17 carries, and the
lumbering Easlick finished with the Hokies' longest run from
scrimmage: 10 yards.

But it was the touchdown pass that mattered most, coming at a
time when the Hokies were struggling.

"I'll tell you what, the defense over there is tough,'' guard
Luke Owens said. "They fly around, hustle to the ball and just try
to make plays. I was hoping that we could enforce our will on them
a little more and get them knocked off the ball. It was a slugfest
for four quarters.''

Trailing 10-0, Sean Dillard turned a screen pass into a 58-yard
gain to nearly double the Owls' total offense to that point and set
up Cap Poklemba's 36-yard field goal midway through the third
quarter.

After Virginia Tech punted, DeAngelo Hall intercepted Mike
McGann at the Temple 41, and Randall found Easlick breaking free
two plays later.

"I tried to use my speed to get open,'' Easlick joked.

McGann was intercepted three times -- all in Virginia Tech
territory. Besides Hall, Vince Fuller had a diving one at the
Hokies' 8 in the first half and added one later after Temple drove
to the Hokies' 5.

"We had plenty of opportunities to win this game,'' Dillard
said. "We were in the red zone enough times. The offense just
couldn't push it in.''

McGann capped the scoring with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Sean
Szarka with 1:48 remaining, a drive set up by Randall's final
interception.

Early, it looked easy for Virginia Tech.

The Hokies drove 57 yards in nine plays on their first
possession with Suggs scoring from the 4 to give him 21 straight
games with a touchdown.

But then Virginia Tech got sloppy. Jones fumbled on the next
possession, Randall threw an interception and also fumbled.

The Hokies held the Owls to 60 yards in the first half, and
Virginia Tech's Nic Schmitt finally padded the lead with 2 seconds
before halftime, kicking a 21-yard field goal. Schmitt added a
22-yarder later.