Virginia Tech 52, Akron 23
September 2, 2000
by Will Stewart, HokieCentral.com
1 2 3 4 F
Akron 3 14 0 6 23
Virginia Tech (10) 7 28 14 3 52
VT-Vick 16 run (Warley kick)
Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va - Things went about as expected in this one. It rained, Michael Vick was spectacular, and the Hokies rolled to victory. But there is much work for the Tech defense to do.
On a drizzly, dreary day where thunder storms threatened on the horizon but never materialized, Vick and his offensive mates did their best to cheer up the crowd, and the Hokies provided many exciting moments for the Tech faithful -- but some of the excitement was of the wrong variety, as the inexperienced Tech defense gave up points and yards to Akron's offense, and a Tech fumble on a punt return was picked up and run in for a score by the Zips.
Michael Vick ran for two touchdowns and passed for two, kicking off his Heisman campaign in fine fashion. The sophomore was 7-11 passing for 186 yards and two TD's to Emmett Johnson and Andre Davis, for 59 yards and 34 yards respectively.
Vick ran 8 times for 102 yards, scampering through the helpless Akron defense for a 12.8 yard average. He had a 16-yard TD run on an option keeper for Tech's first score of the game, and to open the second quarter, he had a marvelous 63-yarder for Tech's second score.
Vick played just three quarters, as the field became soggy and slick from rain that started late in the first quarter. With the Hokies leading 49-17 at the start of the fourth quarter, Tech Coach Frank Beamer pulled Vick and inserted backup quarterback Grant Noel, who played the entire fourth quarter.
The Tech offense never sputtered. Vick led them to a score with 6:22 to go in the first quarter, keeping the ball on an option for a 16-yard TD. Vick's run completed a 9-play, 65-yard drive for Tech.
The Hokies then surrendered a 22-yard field goal to Akron with 1:15 left in the first quarter to make it 7-3, Tech. It took a defensive stand inside the five yard line for Tech to stop the hard-charging Zips, who had a lot of success on offense, racking up 300 yards in the first half and 410 yards overall.
With rain starting to fall, Vick opened the second quarter with a 63-yard run down the left sideline, cutting back across the field with about 20 yards to go in the run, but doing it gingerly to avoid slipping on the slick turf. The TD came just 12 seconds into the quarter and spotted Tech to a 14-3 lead.
The Hokies stretched the lead to 21-3 just over three minutes later on a one-yard run by Lee Suggs. Despite the deficit, the Zips didn't back down, scoring two touchdowns in the quarter on a one-yard Brandon Payne run and a 37-yard Lavel Bailey touchdown catch with 1:40 to go.
Unfortunately for Akron, their two scores were sandwiched around an 11-yard interception return for a touchdown by Tech safety Willie Pile. The interception by Pile came after a spectacular interception by Akron's Dwight Smith had given the Zips possession at their 7-yard line and momentum. The pickoff was Vick's only interception for the game.
After Bailey's touchdown for Akron, it was 28-17, Tech, with under two minutes to go in the half. Akron was hanging around, but the Hokies put a stop to that with a 59-yard Vick to Emmett Johnson touchdown reception with 56 seconds to go in the half. Akron blew the coverage and left Johnson wide open, and Tech's split end got turned around backwards but managed to make the catch, keep his feet, and score. Tech took a 35-17 margin into the locker room for the half.
After surrendering 300 yards in the first half, the Tech defense stiffened up in the second half, shutting the Zips out of the end zone and giving up just 110 yards.
The Hokies slammed the door in the third quarter by posting two touchdowns on a 34-yard dart from Vick to Davis and a 13-yard off-tackle run by Lee Suggs. The quarter ended with Tech up 49-17, and that's when the backups took over the game.
In the fourth quarter, Tech put up a field goal, and the Zips scored another touchdown by scooping up Ronyell Whitaker's fumbled punt return attempt and running it into the end zone from the 16 yard line.
For the Hokies, the good news was 549 yards of offense. In addition to Vick's numbers, Lee Suggs put up 90 yards rushing on 14 carries. Vick's 7 completions were distributed amongst 4 receivers. Johnson, Davis, and tight end Browning Wynn caught 2 passes each from Vick, and Shawn Witten caught one.
The bad news for the Hokies came in the form of the 410 yards put up by the Akron offense. Akron had success running the ball (162 yards) and passing the ball (248 yards), often catching the Tech defenders out of position and getting big gains. Akron quarterback Butchie Washington was inconsistent but had his moments, going 14 of 30 for 248 yards, with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
For the Hokies, a win is a win, but the handwriting is on the wall. If they want to be Big East champions this year, the defense will have to improve, and improve quickly. Tech Coach Frank Beamer was generous to his defense. "Some missed assignments caused some big plays, and there was some poor tackling, but other than that, I think we did okay."
The offense, on the other hand, is humming right along. "I think our offense was consistent," Beamer said. "We got stopped a couple of times in the second half, but we kept pounding the ball."
Up next for the Hokies is a road game on Thursday against the ECU Pirates, who have a talented veteran quarterback in David Garrard. The game is slated for 8:00 and will be televised on ESPN.
Injury report: the Hokies reported no injuries for the game. Safety Willie Pile was hurt briefly on the last play of the first half but played much of the second half and appeared to suffer no ill effects.
The Rushing Game: the Hokies were led in rushing by Vick's 102 yards and Suggs' 90 yards. Andre Kendrick added 51 yards on 9 carries, and Tech totaled 335 net yards rushing on 48 carries (6.98 yards per carry). Akron was led by Jimmie Gray's 80 yards on 12 carries, and the Zips rung up 162 yards rushing on 44 carries (3.7 yards per carry). Last year's MAC Freshman of the Year, Brandon Payne, was held to 42 yards on 17 carries.
Receivers: three Hokie receivers averaged more than 20 yards per reception. Emmett Johnson had 77 yards on 2 catches, Andre Davis had 41 yards on 2 catches, and tight end and Ironman champion Browning Wynn had 58 yards on 2 receptions. Vick averaged 26.6 yards per completion, and Grant Noel (2-5, 28 yards) averaged 14 yards per completion. As a team, the Hokies averaged 23.8 yards per reception.
Turnover Bug: the Hokies fumbled three times and lost them all. Emmett Johnson fumbled after a 26 yard catch, Kendrick fumbled, and Ronyell Whitaker fumbled his first-ever punt return. Tech also had an interception by Vick on a ball that the sophomore quarterback threw at least 65 yards in the air, only to have Smith make a great play to pick it off. By contrast, Akron had only 2 turnovers -- Washington's costly interception to Pile, and a fumble by running back Brandon Payne in the second half.
The World's Most Meaningless Stat: a quick-strike offense like Tech's renders the time of possession stat almost meaningless. Akron had the ball for 20:07 of the first half, yet trailed 35-17 at half time. For the game, Akron held the ball for 32 minutes and 56 seconds to Tech's 27:04. Akron's Coach, Lee Owens, said, "You know what they say about time of possession. The only place time of possession matters is in jail."
The Defenders: Tech's Larry Austin led the way with 9 tackles, followed by a quartet with 6: Willie Pile, Brian Welch, Cory Bird, and Ben Taylor. Defensive tackles David Pugh and Chad Beasley had 5 tackles each. Defensive end Nathaniel Adibi had 3 tackles, all for a loss. His tackles included his first collegiate sack, for an 8-yard loss.
Playmaker Pile: in addition to his interception return for a touchdown, Willie Pile recovered Akron's only fumble.
RUSHING: Akron-J Gray 12-80, T Mccray 4-42, Payne 17-38, Ruhlin 2-5, R Mccray 1-5, Basch 1-3, Zuercher 4-0, B Washington 3-minus 11. Virginia Tech-Vick 8-102, Suggs 14-90, Kendrick 9-51, W Ward 5-25, Easlick 3-19, Johnson 1-19, Burnell 3-13, Ferguson 2-12, Hawkins 1-4, Briggs 1-3, Team 1-minus 3.
PASSING: Akron-B Washington 14-30-1-248. Virginia Tech-Vick 7-11-1-186, Noel 2-5-0-28.
RECEIVING: Akron-L Bailey 5-97, Payne 3-36, Ritley 2-54, J Schifino 2-38, T Mccray 1-14, A Wilson 1-9. Virginia Tech-Johnson 2-77, Wynn 2-58, And Davis 2-41, Witten 2-17, K Willis 1-21.
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