Pepsi Guy: Rutgers
by The Pepsi Guy, 9/27/00
With two homes games elapsed, a win and a washout, I could only wonder what the Rutgers contest would bring. It was the first time this season that rain wasn't a threat and, for once, I would be able to use my patented, "It's going to be a hot one, buy a Pepsi and cool down" phrase. So what if it never works, I always get a kick out of my corny slogans. And, when you're dragging a 20-pound tray around your neck it's important to get a kick out of something.
The improved weather brought improved sales and I was off to my best start of the season. The Pepsi was moving just like Lee Suggs on a 40-yard touchdown jaunt.
Then, as I was in the process of handing one of my drinks to an attractive lass clad in orange and maroon from head to toe, a sound so deafening, so frightful, pummeled my ears. The young lady shrieked and I immediately thought thunder.
Someone yelled out, "What was that?"
An older man who definitely had years of service in the military responded, "That was a B-1 Bomber doing a fly by."
The co-ed buying the drink let out an unimpressed "Oh" complete with shoulder shrug. I, on the other hand, thought to myself, "Cool!", as did most of the other 56,000 in attendance who had let out a roar as the bomber flew overhead.
I finally reached the bleachers and was able to get my first look of Vick and company. While I didn't see anything spectacular, the offense was slowly but surely moving the ball down field.
As I came back from refilling my tray, I noticed the good guys had a seven-point lead and the Scarlet Knights had just failed on their third down attempt. On came the punt team and what is known around these parts as the "pride and joy".
Watching the pride and joy block kick after kick and punt after punt on television and in person is definitely a thing of beauty, but watching a home crowd rouse the guys up is something else.
When I read UVa fans argue that spectators can't have an impact on the players or on the game, I simply invite them to stand in the middle of Section 9 of Lane Stadium and peer into the eyes of the fans as the opposing punter lines up.
There is no sitting. Every person in the stadium is on their feet spewing rage and fury into the ears of the snapper and the head of the punter. I watched children scream until their faces turned blue, old men shake their canes towards the punter as if to tell him it was assured his kick would be blocked and ladies, who were not two minutes earlier consoling a child, scream out with every breath in their body as if their life depended upon it, "Block that kick, block that kick!" Complete pandemonium in the Terror Dome. What that snapper and punter have to be thinking.
And then, as if it were meant to be, the snap was low, the punter couldn't grab a hold of the ball, the noise reached a higher level and Eric Green flew in hammering the punter before he could look up. A twenty yard loss and more importantly, "First down, Hokies!"
With that crowd, I don't think the punter ever had a chance.
I continued my record-breaking day of selling drinks and the Hokies continued to pile up the points on the scoreboard.
Just as I had finished selling two Diet Pepsi's to an elderly couple, I looked up and watched Vick flip a screen pass to Andre Davis. The wall seemed to be set up perfectly and Davis was motoring toward the end zone, but just before he reached second gear, Joe Marchant crashed into a Rutgers defender, springing Davis for a touchdown. There was only one problem, Marchant blocked his guy in the back. So the TD was wiped off the board and the play was brought back.
The penalty didn't bother the Hokies, didn't bother them at all. On the very next play Michael Vick once again made Worsham Field his stage and Lane Stadium his Globe Theater. Vick started the play by running to his right in search of an opening, but there was none to be found. Just when a Rutgers' defensive linemen wrapped his mitt around Michael's shoulder pads for an apparent two yard loss, Michael put his hand on the ground to balance himself, spun 180 degrees and darted off away from his captors in one of his finest masterpieces to date. Although he was unable to score a touchdown, the play left me in awe as it did everyone else in attendance and hoping for an encore performance by our orange and maroon Shakespeare.
For the rest of the half, the Hokies continued to dominate and I continued my furious pursuit of the top seller award. An award that consists of ten dollars and the prestige and honor that go along with it. OK, I just do it for the ten dollars.
Once the third quarter was underway, I didn't get to see much of the game. And besides, at 35-0 this game was all but finished. The only memory I have of the third quarter was after a personal foul by one of the Rutgers' players.
Tony Berry, number two for the Scarlet Knights, apparently roughed up one of our offensive players much to the dismay and ire of our crowd. The Rutgers' coaching staff quickly removed Mr. Berry from the field where he could feel the wrath of the Virginia Tech faithful. Many words were directed towards Berry, but none louder than the chant the East stands and Marching Virginians took up. "Berry, Berry, Berry" was chanted repeatedly with fingers pointing towards him.
I guess Mr. Berry learned a lesson Saturday, mess with one Hokie and you have to mess with them all.
Soon after the Berry incident I finished up my sales and headed to the stands to watch the remaining minutes of the fourth quarter.
With most of the starters having sat on the bench for almost a full 15 minutes, I watched Tech's third and fourth strings continue to drive the ball on the Knights. During this time one player in particular stood out, and in fact, has stood out most of the times he has been given the opportunity to play. That player was Keith Burnell.
Burnell may be considered the fourth string tailback and right now not be the complete back the coaches desire him to be, but Keith Burnell is definitely a runner. On his third carry, Burnell hit the hole hard, but a Scarlet Knight stood in his way. Keith then turned what should have been a three-yard gain into something much more.
He spun past the first defender and when the middle linebacker was ready to lower the boom, Keith spun the other way and was off on a foot race. If not tired from running 60 yards in the open field, I believe Keith would have taken the ball to the end zone. But as it was, he did so three plays later, showing why he was rated one of the top 25 backs in the country coming out of Western Branch High.
That was my last highlight of the game, as the Hokies took home the 49-point shutout and I the ten-dollar top seller bonus. How sweet it is to be a Hokie and Pepsi Guy.
But as I was walking to my car, I noticed a large crowd of fans, mainly children, gathered around the fences the players walk by to enter the Merryman Center. Hordes of kids were yelling out players' names as they strolled by hoping to get an autograph or a wristband. Most of the players waved, but continued walking, but then one player actually came towards the fence. The faces of the kids lit up like Christmas candles and the excitement was evident in their eyes.
Nick Sorensen had walked over to the fence and happily started signing autographs. I assumed Nick would sign a few autographs and leave shortly. Boy was I wrong. I didn't witness one child leave without an autograph and hello from Nick; needless to say he was there for quite a while.
So say what you will about Nick Sorensen's play on the field, but he is definitely a first class person all the way.
With that take care and see you on Homecoming against the Temple Owls,
-- The Pepsi Guy