Virginia Tech 44, Central Florida 21
November 11, 2000
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
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Orlando, FL - On a night where Virginia Tech players dropped left and right with injuries, Lee Suggs played the iron man and carried the Hokies to a 44-21 victory with 143 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns.
With a school-record crowd of 50,220 looking on and their team pumped up for a visit from the #8 Hokies, Central Florida went out and self-destructed with 5 first half turnovers. The Golden Knights threw three interceptions and fumbled twice in the first half, the second of which was returned 36 yards for a touchdown by Tech's Nathaniel Adibi. Adibi's fumble return came with just 58 seconds to go in the first half and boosted the Hokies to a 30-7 lead, allowing them to coast in the second half.
Offensively, the Hokies stayed on the ground, running the ball 61 times for 313 yards and passing just 8 times. With star quarterback Michael Vick out with an ankle injury and top receiver Andre Davis not even making the trip due to bursitis in his foot, the Hokies played it conservative and battered a weak Central Florida defense with their rushing game, which was ranked 6th in NCAA 1-A going in.
Things went according to plan for the Hokies, as Suggs scored three first-quarter touchdowns to stake Tech to a 21-7 lead. After starting quarterback Dave Meyer went down midway through the third quarter with a rib injury, the Hokies inserted third-string quarterback Grant Noel and did not throw a single pass the rest of the game. The Hokies' last 20 offensive plays were all rushes.
Central Florida had 362 yards passing on the night, but the flurry of first-half turnovers doomed them to the loss. Virginia Tech applied relentless pressure to starting Knight quarterback Ryan Schneider by blitzing multiple players, often sending three or four linebackers and defensive backs. Schneider was sacked 4 times and was knocked down repeatedly after releasing the ball, finally leaving the game after Central Florida's first offensive play of the fourth quarter.
The Hokies suffered numerous injuries during the game. On offense, in addition to Dave Meyer's rib injury (which has been labeled bruised ribs), wide receiver Ernest Wilford bruised a knee and offensive lineman Dave Kadela injured his ankle.
On defense, Chad Beasley suffered a high ankle sprain, Billy Hardee injured his toe and got a possible concussion, and Ronyell Whitaker sprained his shoulder.
Tech's training and coaching staffs would not comment on player availability for the UVa game in two weeks, pending further examination and diagnoses of the players who were injured.
Suggs's 5 TD's and 30 points were Big East single game records, and he now has 1,091 yards rushing on the year. Suggs is only the third 1,000-yard rusher of the Beamer era (Shyrone Stith, 1999, and Dwayne Thomas, 1993 are the other two), and he has 24 touchdowns and 144 points on the year, both of which are Big East records.
In addition to Suggs's 143 yards rushing on 30 carries, Andre Kendrick added 81 yards on 15 carries. Defensively, Ronyell Whitaker, Ben Taylor, Willie Pile and David Pugh all had interceptions.
Central Florida took possession first, and after driving from their 20 yard line to their 41 yard line, they fumbled. The Hokies easily turned the fumble into Suggs's first touchdown, as Suggs took it in five plays later from 1 yard out.
The Golden Knights responded with a 7-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 7 yard pass from Schneider to his favorite receiver, Tyson Hinshaw, to make it 7-7.
Tech made it 14-7 with a 7-play, 60-yard drive that took just 2:56 off the clock. Suggs scored again from 1 yard out.
Ronyell Whitaker intercepted a pass on Central Florida's next drive, and the Hokies took over on their 23 yard line. After a short run by Suggs, Meyer threw a beautiful 55-yard pass to Emmett Johnson, who was tackled on the Central Florida 19 yard line. Four plays later, Suggs scored his third 1-yard TD of the quarter, and Tech led 21-7.
Central Florida started the second quarter by driving from their 20 yard line to Tech's 14-yard line, but the drive ended when Tech linebacker Brian Welch tipped a pass over the middle and Willie Pile intercepted it in the end zone.
The two teams then traded punts, and on Central Florida's punt, Ronyell Whitaker returned it 50 yards to the UCF 15. An exchange of penalties put the ball at the 23-yard line, and after the Tech offense stalled, Carter Warley kicked a 33-yard field goal with 2:58 to go in the half to make it 24-7, Tech.
Central Florida did their best to score again before half time to close the gap, but their attempts blew up in their face when Tech linebacker Ben Taylor blitzed and nailed Schneider, forcing a fumble. Nathaniel Adibi picked the fumble up on the UCF 36 yard line and rumbled into the end zone untouched to make the score 30-7 and dash Central Florida's hopes for a comeback.
With 58 seconds to go in the half, Central Florida started another drive, but it ended when an ill-advised short pass by Schneider was intercepted by Tech defensive tackle David Pugh, his first career interception.
The second half was a steady diet of the Tech running game. The Hokies threw one pass in the second half and ran the ball 31 times. Lee Suggs scored on a 13-yard run on Tech's opening drive of the second half to make it 37-7, but it was during the second drive that a Dave Meyer scramble resulted in an awkward tackle that injured Meyer's ribs.
The Hokies continued to apply pressure on the Central Florida quarterbacks in the second half, and it was during an all-out blitz that Tech's Willie Pile was beaten for a 25-yard TD reception by Hinshaw to make the score 37-14.
On Central Florida's next drive, Tech's Ben Taylor intercepted a pass on the UCF 45 yard line and made a spectacular return through heavy traffic, only to trip and fall down on the Central Florida four yard line. Suggs took it in on the next play for his fifth touchdown, making it 44-14.
"I didn't want to be selfish," Taylor said of his trip and fall just short of the goal line. "I wanted Lee to have another touchdown."
Central Florida would score one more time, on a 10-yard pass play with 3:47 to go in the third quarter. On the play, the ball hit Tech's Nick Sorensen in the chest, but it popped out of Sorensen's grasp, and UCF's Kenny Clark snared it for the score.
With the game firmly in hand at 44-21, the Hokies stuck with the ground game, ESPN+ quit breaking for commercials, and all parties involved got out of the Citrus Bowl as fast as possible. No more scores were posted in the remaining 18 minutes and 47 seconds, and the only item worth noting is that Tech third-string quarterback Grant Noel didn't attempt a single pass in a quarter and a half of play.
Up Next: the Hokies take a weekend off and attempt to heal their battered bodies before taking on a reeling UVa football team in Lane Stadium on November 25th. The Wahoos stand at 5-4 after getting hammered 35-0 by Georgia Tech on Thursday night, and they take on North Carolina State on November 18th, in Charlottesville. Should Virginia win their contest with the Wolfpack, the Hokies will have a chance to put the Cavaliers' long-standing streak of 7-win seasons to an end in Blacksburg.
RUSHING-Virginia Tech, Suggs 30-143, Kendrick 15-81, Meyer 6-45, Ferguson 6-35, Hawkins 3-9, team 1-0. UCF, Mack 7-32, Baker 5-16, Howard 1-3, Schneider 8-(minus 15), Penn 2-(minus 15).
PASSING-Virginia Tech, Meyer 2-7-0-55, Kendrick 0-1-0-0. UCF, Schneider 25-41-4-346, Penn 3-4-0-16.
RECEIVING-Virginia Tech, E. Johnson 1-55, Hawkins 1-0. UCF, Hinshaw 10-116, Clark 4-93, Mack 4-26, Davis 3-22, Fryzel 2-28, Ward 2-19, Jackson 1-30, Baker 1-22, Johnson 1-6.