2001 Toyota Gator Bowl:
Virginia Tech 41, Clemson 20
January 1, 2001
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com

                        1   2   3   4    F
                       --  --  --  --   --
Virginia Tech (5)      14   7  13   7   41
Clemson (13)            0  10   3   7   20

1st Quarter:
VT-Ferguson 23 pass from Vick (Warley kick), 13:23
VT-Vick 6 run (Warley kick), 1:08

2nd Quarter:
CU-Zachery 23 pass from Dantzler (Hunt kick), 13:34
CU-Hunt 28 FG, 5:45
VT-Suggs 3 run (Warley kick), 2:26

3rd Quarter:
VT-Suggs 1 run (kick failed), 12:19
CU-Hunt 26 FG, 7:19
VT-Ferguson 5 run (Warley kick), 5:14

4th Quarter:
CU-Gardner 14 pass from Simmons (Hunt kick), 7:19
VT-Suggs 5 run (Warley kick), 3:41

Jacksonville, FL - The 5th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies used a balanced attack and tough red-zone defense to flatten the 13th-ranked Clemson Tigers 41-20 in the 2001 Toyota Gator Bowl.

The Hokies got 205 yards passing from Michael Vick and three rushing touchdowns from Lee Suggs to lead them to the win. Vick rushed 6 yards for one TD and passed 23 yards for another. Fullback Jarrett Ferguson caught Vick's TD pass and ran for another TD, and tailback Andre Kendrick made two big plays on offense as the Hokies spread the ball around.

On defense, the Hokies used a strong performance in all phases of the game to frustrate a Clemson offense that moved well between the 20's but had trouble scoring once it got deep in Tech territory. The Tigers totaled 331 yards overall, and the Hokies held the Tigers 10th-ranked rushing attack to just 88 yards on the ground. Tech had 416 yards of offense in a well-balanced attack of 205 yards passing and 211 yards rushing.

Both teams made several mistakes in special teams play, but Clemson's mistakes were more costly than Tech's. Clemson botched a punt snap on their first possession, and the Hokies took over on the Tigers' 23 yard line. Vick hit Ferguson on the next play for a 23-yard TD pass.

The Tigers also roughed Tech punter Robert Peaslee to keep a Hokies drive alive in the third quarter, and Tech converted the Clemson mistake into a 55-yard bomb from Vick to Andre Davis, followed by a 1-yard Suggs rush for a TD.

Tech's only special teams mistake, a muffed punt by Ronyell Whitaker that Clemson recovered on the Tech 20, resulted in just 3 points for the Tigers, when Clemson had to settle for a field goal.

With the exception of Vick's long pass to Davis, the Tech running backs ruled the day. Suggs had TD runs of 3, 1, and 5 yards to tie a Gator Bowl record for rushing TD's in a game. Ferguson had a 5-yard TD run to go with his TD reception, and Kendrick had a 49-yard reception and a 46-yard run.

Defensively, the Hokies had 6 sacks for 28 yards in losses. Tech rarely blitzed and applied good pressure with just their four down linemen. The Hokies had two interceptions in the game, one each by cornerback Ronyell Whitaker and safety Willie Pile.

With the win, Tech's record is 11-1 for the second year in a row, and the Hokies will finish ranked in the Top 5 for the second year in a row. The 22 victories in two seasons are a Tech record.

After the game, Vick, who was 10-18 for 205 yards, 1 INT, and 1 TD, was asked by Tech broadcaster Mike Burnop about his plans to return next season. If he is going to go pro, Vick must make up his mind by January 12th, which is the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft.

"There's a good chance you're going to see me around here next year, but I've got a lot of thinking to do," Vick said. "It's going to be a tough decision. Me being 20 years old and having the chance to be a millionaire, sounds almost too good to be true. No matter how it turns out, I'm going to be the one who's going to have to deal with everything."

When asked about Tech's chances to make it to the national championship game in the Rose Bowl in 2001, Vick said, "Hopefully, if I stay, we can make that run. I hope I can be a part of it."

Game Recap

The Hokies dominated the first quarter and shot out to a 14-0 lead. The Tigers received the opening kickoff and were held to six yards. On fourth and four from the Clemson 31, the Tigers' deep snapper bounced the ball in front of the Tiger's punter, and the Hokies were able to swarm him at the Clemson 23 yard line. The Hokies scored on their very first offensive play when Vick hit a wide open Jarrett Ferguson down the middle to make it 7-0 with less than two minutes gone in the game.

The two teams traded possessions, and on the Hokies' third possession, they mounted an 11-play, 59-yard drive that ended in a Vick option keeper for a 6-yard touchdown. No single play on the drive was longer than 9 yards, as Tech mixed the run and the pass in the six-minute drive. The touchdown run by Vick came with 1:08 to go in the quarter and made it 14-0, Tech.

In the first quarter, the Hokies controlled the Tiger's potent offense and outgained Clemson 85 to 11.

The second quarter was a different story. Clemson responded to Tech's second TD with a 74-yard drive for a TD. The last two plays of the drive covered 27 and 23 yards, respectively, as the Tigers took advantage of the Hokie defensive backup players who were in the game. Clemson scored on a 23-yard pass to tailback Travis Zachery with 13:34 to go second quarter, making it 14-7, Tech. On the play, Zachery reportedly broke a bone in his foot and would not return.

Needing to answer, the Hokies failed when Carter Warley left a perfectly-aimed 42-yard field goal attempt short. The field goal bounced off the crossbar and back into the field.

Clemson roared back and penetrated deep into Tech territory, but their drive expired when Clemson QB Woody Dantzler was stopped on the Tech 28 yard line by Willie Pile on a scramble on fourth and five.

The Hokies gave Clemson yet another chance when Vick fumbled deep in Tech territory on their next drive, and the Tigers recovered on the Tech 13. The Hokie defense held fast, and Clemson had to settle for a 28 yard field goal, closing the gap to 14-10.

Tech put a little separation between themselves and Clemson with a 7-play, 78-yard drive for a TD. The key play in the drive came on a third and two from the Hokie 47, when the Hokies lined up in their power-I formation, only to have Vick lob the ball downfield to Kendrick. Kendrick hauled the pass in deep in Clemson territory and was tackled on the Tiger 4 yard line. From there, Suggs took it in in two tries to boost the lead back to 21-10, which was the half time score.

At half time, the statistics were almost dead even, with Tech leading the Tigers 189-183 in total yards.

The Hokies opened the third quarter with a brief 6-play, 80-yard drive that ended in a Suggs 1-yard TD run to make it 27-10 after the PAT was missed. The score was set up when Vick hit flanker Andre Davis with a 55-yard bomb to the Tiger 1. Davis was wide open behind the defense, but the pass was just a little short, forcing him to slow up and preventing the touchdown.

Although Clemson originally held the Hokies to a three-and-out, the Tech drive was kept alive when the Tigers roughed Tech punter Robert Peaslee on fourth and two. Vick threw the bomb to Davis on the very next play.

After the Suggs TD, the Tigers then had their last gasp, controlling the ball for five minutes and kicking a field to make it 27-13. Clemson's drive was stalled on their 46 yard line, but they were given a new life when Ronyell Whitaker muffed a Clemson punt and the Tigers recovered the ball on the Tech 20. On the play, Whitaker lost the ball in the bright sun, and it bounced off his chest.

Clemson was unable to cash in with a touchdown, though, and instead kicked a 26 yard field goal.

The Hokies responded by extending the lead to 34-13 with 5:14 to go in the third quarter on a 5-yard rush by Jarrett Ferguson. The drive got off with a bang when Andre Kendrick sprinted down the left sideline on a 46-yard option play that took it from the Tech 25 to the Clemson 29.

On Clemson's next drive, they advanced to the Tech 24 yard line, but then Dantzler threw a bad interception to Whitaker, who picked it off at the Tech 5 and ran it out to the 32. That prompted Clemson coach Tommy Bowden to yank Dantzler, who was 15-32 for 180 yards, and replace him with Willie Simmons.

The two teams traded possessions and turnovers well into the fourth quarter. Clemson scored on a 14 yard pass to make it 34-20 with 7:19 to go, and the Hokies came back with a 7-play, 45-yard drive and closed out the scoring with a 5-yard run by Suggs.

Click here for TechSideline's post-game analysis


                      Clemson       VT
First downs                21       19 
Rushed-yards            35-88   47-211 
Passing yards             243      205 
Sacked-yards lost        6-28     2-22 
Return yards                0       31 
Passes                21-44-2  10-18-1 
Punts                  5-38.4   2-32.0 
Fumbles-lost              2-0      2-2 
Penalties-yards          7-50     2-20 
Time of possession      28:24    31:36 

Attendance: 68,741

Individual Statistics

RUSHING: Clemson-Dantzler 18-81, Zachery 5-15, Rambert 4-7, Kelly 2-3, Team 1-minus 8, Simmons 5-minus 10. Virginia Tech-Suggs 20-73, Kendrick 4-52, Ferguson 6-26, W Ward 4-24, Vick 9-19, Hawkins 2-6, Burnell 1-6, Johnson 1-5.

PASSING: Clemson-Dantzler 15-32-1-180, Simmons 6-12-1-63.
Virginia Tech-Vick 10-18-1-205.

RECEIVING: Clemson-R Gardner 7-94, J Watts 4-59, Kelly 3-22, Zachery 2-25, J Robinson 2-25, Rambert 2-14, Youngblood 1-4. Virginia Tech-And Davis 2-70, Kendrick 2-55, Wynn 2-27, Ferguson 1-23, Hawkins 1-14, E Wilford 1-9, Johnson 1-7.


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