Virginia Tech 46, Central Florida 14
September 29, 2001
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
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Blacksburg, VA - Down 7-0 after the first quarter, Virginia Tech blew up on Central Florida, outscoring them 46-7 in the final three quarters to earn a 46-14 home win and go to 4-0 on the season. The Hokies were paced by 170 yards passing from Grant Noel and 172 yards rushing from the tailback duo of Keith Burnell and Kevin Jones.
Tech also turned this game into a special teams showcase by blocking a punt for a safety, converting a fake punt for a first down, and returning a punt for a touchdown. The Hokies held UCF to 24 yards rushing and 251 yards overall, so with the offense sputtering at times, Tech flexed their defensive and special teams muscle to pull away from the Golden Knights.
Noel was 15-25 for 170 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Burnell had 21 carries for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Jones added 90 yards on just 11 carries. Jones also scored the first touchdown of his Tech career on a 7-yard run. The Hokies were led in receiving by fullback Jarrett Ferguson, who had 5 catches for 39 yards, and kicker Carter Warley was 3-3 on field goals in the game.
In the first quarter, the Hokie offense struggled in the passing game and failed to threaten UCF. Meanwhile, the Knights got a TD late in the quarter on a 9-yard pass to Michael Gaines, who outjumped Tech cornerback Ronyell Whitaker for the ball and the score. The TD pass was set up when UCF's Doug Gabriel turned a simple crossing pattern into a 71-yard completion that moved the ball from the UCF 18 to the Tech 11. The TD pass made it 7-0 UCF, which stood through the end of the first quarter.
The Hokies drove into UCF territory but lost the ball on a fumble when Doug Easlick had it stripped from behind, giving it back to UCF on the Knights' 12 yard line. Central Florida graciously gave the ball back to Tech in prime position, when Tech safety Willie Pile picked off a Ryan Schneider pass and returned it 20 yards to the UCF 23. Tech used three straight Keith Burnell rushes to score, the touchdown coming on a 13-yard run to the left, making it 7-7.
UCF went for it on an ill-advised fourth-down quarterback sneak. The Knights were stopped at their own 34 on the play, turning it over to the Hokies, but after Tech drove inside the UCF ten Noel fumbled it away. UCF fumbled it three plays later on their own ten yard line, but Tech was unable to score and had to settle for a 31-yard field goal,
Tech's Kevin Jones scored his first collegiate touchdown just over a minute later on a 7-yard TD run. The run was set up when Jared Mazzetta recovered a fumbled kickoff on the UCF 15 yard line.
That made it 17-7, Hokies, and Tech extended the lead to 19-7 just before half time through masterful coaching and special teams play. With UCF trying to run the clock out deep in their territory, the Hokies spent their timeouts and then blocked a Central Florida punt out of the end zone with just 5 seconds to go in the half.
Just when it appeared the Hokies were going to pull away, Noel lost another fumble, this one on the Tech 25 yard line on Tech's first possession of the second half. UCF converted easily from there in just three plays.
The Hokie offense failed to pick up a first down on the ensuing drive, and it appeared Tech was in a battle with the Knights. But on fourth and 8 from the Tech 44, Tech punter Vinnie Burns faked the punt and threw a 33-yard pass to Garnell Wilds. The Hokies had a first down at the UCF 23, and several plays later, Keith Burnell scored on a two-yard run to make it 26-14, Tech.
Ben Taylor intercepted a poorly thrown pass on UCF's next offensive play, and the Hokies put together a 10-play, 52-yard drive, capped by a Carter Warley 23-yard field goal to make it 29-14.
Warley added a 28-yarder with 10:52 to go in the fourth quarter to push Tech's lead to 32-14, and then the Hokies exploded on Central Florida and put the game away. On UCF's next possession, Tech Rover Kevin McCadam returned a tipped pass 69 yards for a TD, and less then two minutes later, punt returner Andre Davis brought one back 55 yards to finalize the scoring.
The Hokies travel to Morgantown, West Virginia next week for a noon game with WVU that will be televised on ESPN2.
RUSHING: UCF-Haynes 15-17, T Williams 2-15, Baker 4-10, Miller 1-minus 3, Schneider 4-minus 15. Virginia Tech-Jones 11-90, K Burnell 21-82, Ferguson 5-30, Randall 1-24, Noel 6-7, W Ward 3-5, Team 1-minus 1, E Johnson 1-minus 1, And Davis 1-minus 4.
PASSING: UCF-Schneider 16-31-3-212, Miller 2-5-0-15. Virginia Tech-Noel 15-25-0-170, Randall 0-3-0-0, V Burns 1-1-0-33.
RECEIVING: UCF-Fryzel 5-40, T Davis 4-46, Ward 4-35, Gaines 2-14, Gabriel 1-71, Baker 1-12, T Williams 1-9. Virginia Tech-Ferguson 5-39, And Davis 4-38, Witten 2-9, Wynn 1-39, G Wilds 1-33, Jones 1-21, Easlick 1-17, E Johnson 1-7.