Virginia Tech 50, Rutgers 0
September 22, 2001
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
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Piscataway, NJ - The Virginia Tech defense logged its second straight shutout for the first time since 1983, and Grant Noel tied a school record with four touchdown passes, as the Hokies throttled a helpless Rutgers team 50-0.
Virginia Tech (3-0, 1-0 Big East) limited Rutgers (1-2, 0-2 Big East) to 102 yards of offense and ran the number of shutout quarters in a row this season to 11. A Tech opponent has not scored since Connecticut scored 10 points in the first quarter of the season opener. The consecutive shutouts against Western Michigan (31-0) and Rutgers (50-0) are Tech's first consecutive shutouts since the Hokies downed VMI 28-0 and Louisville 31-0 in successive games in 1983.
In tying the single-game TD record, Noel had scoring passes of 5, 16, 6, and 7 yards. Overall, he was 17-22 for 164 yards, 4 TD's, and no interceptions. "I think it could have been a little better than what it was, actually, but that's a good day," Noel told Mike Burnop of the Tech radio network after the game. "I think the line blocked well, and guys ran good routes. Guys were open, and the line gave me time."
12 different receivers caught passes in this game. On the season, 17 different players have caught passes for Tech.
The Hokies made two of their signature plays, blocking a punt and scoring a defensive touchdown. The TD came when Channing Reed scored on a fumble return late in the game.
Although it was dominating, the Hokies' performance was far from perfect. Tech had 108 yards in penalties, and Tech placekicker Carter Warley missed field goals of 33 yards in the second quarter and 19 yards in the fourth quarter. And after the first quarter, the offense struggled at times.
Rutgers spotted the Hokies 7 points early by turning the ball over on an interception on their second offensive play of the game. Rutgers QB Ryan Cubit threw the ball towards the right flat, but Tech defensive end Nathaniel Adibi tipped the ball into the air. Linebacker Brian Welch, who started over Jake Houseright, picked the ball off in the flat and returned it from the Rutgers 28 to the one yard line. Two plays later, Keith Burnell took it in from the one on a toss sweep, making it 7-0 Tech with 13:40 to go in the first quarter.
The generous Knights turned it over again two plays later, when running back Jason Ohene fumbled and Willie Pile recovered for Tech on the Rutgers 29 yard line. The Hokies pushed the ball inside the Rutgers 20, but Shawn Witten fumbled on a flanker screen, and the Knights got it back on their 15 yard line.
The Hokies scored touchdowns on their next three possessions, all on Grant Noel passes. Tech's next score came on a 5-yard reception by fullback Jarrett Ferguson. The drive was 4 plays and 65 yards, and it was keyed by a 55-yard run by tailback Keith Burnell.
Rutgers turned it over for the third time on their next possession, when Cubit threw a ball up for grabs that Tech's Ronyell Whitaker intercepted on the Rutgers 48 yard line. It took the Hokies 6 plays to score from there, with the capper coming on a 16-yard TD pass from Noel to Emmett Johnson with 4:04 to go in the quarter, making it 21-0.
The Hokies tacked on another TD with 8 seconds to go on a 6-yard pass from Noel to Terrell Parham. The drive was 6 plays and 50 yards, and VT running back Kevin Jones carried 4 times for 32 yards.
At the end of the first quarter, the Hokies led 28-0 and had outgained Rutgers 163-63. Tech QB Grant Noel was 7-7 for 3 TD's in the quarter.
The second quarter was uneventful and was played mostly between the 20's. The Hokie offense bogged down, turning in two straight three-and-outs before going on a 43-yard drive that ended in a missed 33-yard field goal by Carter Warley. Warley hooked the ball badly on the kick.
Tech was outgained 43 yards to 40 in the second quarter, but the Scarlet Knights were not able to score either, advancing no farther than Tech's 36 yard line, where Cubit threw an interception straight to linebacker Jake Houseright. It was Cubit's third interception of the half.
The Hokies had two field goals in the third quarter, mainly due to great field position, to extend the lead to 34-0. After his first-half miss, Warley made kicks of 38 and 37 yards in the quarter.
The Hokies left their offensive starters in the game into the fourth quarter, producing a 9-play, 60-yard drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters. The drive ended with a sharply-thrown and well-caught 7-yard TD pass from Noel to tight end Keith Willis in the back of the end zone. The TD put Tech ahead 41-0 and was the last series by Noel.
The pass was Noel's fourth TD of the game, tying the single-game record set on four other occasions (Don Strock vs. Ohio in 1972, Maurice DeShazo vs. Maryland and Temple in 1993, and Michael Vick vs. Rutgers in 1999).
Tech had a special teams safety and a defensive touchdown in the remainder of the fourth quarter. Eric Green blocked a Rutgers punt, and after the ball was bobbled into the end zone, Tech's Vincent Fuller was unable to corral it. Rutgers wrestled it away from Fuller, and the result was a safety for Tech, pushing the score to 43-0.
Late in the game, Tech got a defensive touchdown when defensive end Jim Davis crushed Rutgers backup QB Ted Trump. Trump fumbled at the 15, and defensive tackle Channing Reed scooped up the ball at the 8-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown to make it 50-0. "I kind of pushed Jim out of the way to get the ball," Reed laughed after the game, "and then I grabbed it and ran it in. It felt good to be playing back home for the first time since high school," added Reed, a New Jersey native.
The Virginia Tech football team was led onto the field before the game by linebacker Brian Welch, who carried the American flag. Welch's father was killed in a terrorist bombing in Beirut, Lebanon. Welch started the game, and his highlight during the game was his first-quarter interception.
"It was an amazing, very emotional day for me," Welch said. "The amazing thing was carrying the flag on the field. Football memories will tarnish and age over the years, but when I'm old and gray, that's the story I'll tell my kids."
Tech's next game is in a week, at home against Central Florida at noon. The game will be televised by the Sunshine Network in Florida and will be shown on a tape-delay basis by Fox 21/27 in Roanoke. The tape delay broadcast will occur at approximately 4 pm, following Fox's Major League Baseball playoff game.
RUSHING: Virginia Tech-Jones 18-76, K Burnell 12-74, Randall 3-39, W Ward 6-23, Noel 5-9, Easlick 1-1, Briggs 1-1. Rutgers-Ohene 19-43, M Jones 6-23, Moses 1-13, Cook 4-6, Team 1-minus 5, Trump 1-minus 15, Cubit 6-minus 33.
PASSING: Virginia Tech-Noel 17-22-0-164, Randall 2-5-0-11. Rutgers-Cubit 11-23-4-55, M Barr 1-1-0-15.
RECEIVING: Virginia Tech-Ferguson 3-28, Witten 3-15, E Wilford 2-28, Briggs 2-23, Parham 2-10, Slowikowski 1-22, Wynn 1-16, E Johnson 1-16, And Davis 1-13, K Willis 1-7, R Johnson 1-4, K Burnell 1-minus 7. Rutgers-Smith 4-9, A Martin 2-20, Fletcher 2-3, Seabrooks 1-15, Hobbs 1-9, Moses 1-7, J Andre 1-7.