1:00 PM ET, November 27, 2004
Lane Stadium, BLACKSBURG, VA
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Bryan Randall is wrapping up his college career in style, putting Virginia Tech on the verge of an unexpected championship.
Randall threw two second-half touchdown passes and the 11th-ranked Hokies moved one victory from an Atlantic Coast Conference title with a 24-10 victory over No. 16 Virginia on Saturday.
"The stakes just keep getting bigger," Randall said after leading the Hokies to their seventh consecutive win and ninth in 10 games.
The Hokies (9-2, 6-1) can win the league title -- and a Bowl Championship Series berth -- by winning next week at No. 9 Miami, the team that moved from the Big East to the ACC with Virginia Tech this season.
"To go down to Miami and get a win and the whole championship outright by ourselves in the first year, it would be phenomenal," said Randall, one of 19 seniors honored Saturday. "It would mean a lot to our whole team, the coaches, the program. It would make people respect us. I think we've gained a lot of respect for what we've done."
The Hokies, picked to finish as low as eighth in the ACC this year, have done it by returning to the style of football that lifted them into the national elite a decade ago, using hard-nosed defense, big-play special teams and an efficient offense to wear down their opponents.
And that senior quarterback has been a big part of it, too, mentoring a young receiving corps and playing the best football of his career.
"He plays his best when things look the worst," coach Frank Beamer said. "There's just something special about this kid. What a player."
Randall finished 16-for-22 for 200 yards and passed Don Strock to become the career yardage leader at Virginia Tech.
Strock ended his career with 6,009; Randall now has 6,061.
He eclipsed Strock with a 12-yard pass to Jeff King on second-and-12 with 10 minutes left.
Randall celebrated on the next play, finding Josh Hyman against Tony Franklin for the second time, this one for 32 yards and a 17-10 lead.
"I wanted to throw it up there and give Hyman a chance," Randall said of the 5-11 redshirt freshman, who stopped as Franklin ran by and then beat him to the end zone. "He made a play, just like on the other ball."
Earlier, Randall and Hyman teamed on a 45-yard scoring pass.
Cedric Humes, who ran for 95 yards after Mike Imoh aggravated a strained hamstring, closed the scoring on a 32-yard run with 5:08 left.
Tech's defense and special teams made three big plays to thwart the Cavaliers (8-3, 5-3), who were playing for a share of the ACC title.
First, the Hokies blocked a 45-yard field-goal try by Connor Hughes to end Virginia's first series. Then, after a 78-yard run by Alvin Pearman helped give Virginia a first-and-goal at the 4, Tech's Jonathan Lewis pounced on a fumble by Wali Lundy.
And finally, in perhaps the biggest sequence of the game early in the fourth quarter, the Hokies led 10-7 and stopped three consecutive plays from their own 1, forcing Virginia to end a 17-play, 78-yard march with just a tying field goal.
"Guys just kept responding," Hokies defensive end Jim Davis said. "It's something I can't explain. It was so special. Guys just wanted to play. Guys wanted to go three-and-out and keep those guys from winning.
"Every time our back was against the wall, our defense responded," he said.
Virginia coach Al Groh saw it somewhat differently.
"I guess you don't need a calculator to see that we left 14 points out there," he said. "Clearly that's how we see it."
After the game, Virginia announced that it would decline any invitation to a bowl falling between Dec. 13-21 because of exams, taking the Cavaliers out of the running for the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 21.
Virginia came in with the nation's ninth-best rushing offense, averaging 247 yards, and had 155 by halftime but nothing to show for it in a scoreless tie. The second-half failure was also hard to ignore.
"For all the good the running game was for us, it was two running plays that really kind of let us down," a testy Groh said.
The Cavaliers' only touchdown came on a 32-yard pass from Marques Hagans to Pearman.
"We had a chance today and blew it," safety Marquis Weeks said.
Pearman ran for 147 yards on 28 carries but had just 21 in the second half on 12 carries. The Cavaliers passing game wasn't much help as Hagans finished just 8-for-14 for 111 yards, and he was sacked three times.
Virginia also hurt itself with penalties.
A pass interference penalty by Franklin and Kwakou Robinson's 15-yard personal foul for hitting Randall late led to Brandon Pace's 31-yard field goal midway through the third quarter.
Special teams helped Virginia Tech grab its first lead.
Facing a fourth-and-12 punt from his own 18 -- and aware for the Hokies' affinity for blocking kicks -- Virginia freshman punter Chris Gould got off a wobbler that was downed at the Virginia 45, a 27-yard kick.
On the next play, Randall hit Hyman for a 10-7 lead.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-15||4-13|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-1|
|TD||10:24||ALVIN PEARMAN 32 YD PASS FROM MARQUES HAGANS (CONNOR HUGHES KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 31 yards.
|FG||7:20||BRANDON PACE 31 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 66 yards.
|TD||5:41||JOSH HYMAN 45 YD PASS FROM BRYAN RANDALL (BRANDON PACE KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 45 yards.
|FG||13:03||CONNOR HUGHES 19 YD FG|
Drive info: 17 plays, 78 yards.
|TD||9:52||JOSH HYMAN 32 YD PASS FROM BRYAN RANDALL (BRANDON PACE KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||5:08||CEDRIC HUMES 37 YD RUN (BRANDON PACE KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 58 yards.