Virginia Tech 52, Connecticut 10
September 1, 2001
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
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Blacksburg, VA - The Hokies walloped Connecticut 52-10, but the enthusiasm created by an outstanding performance in Grant Noel's first ever start at quarterback for the Hokies was tempered by a serious knee injury suffered by Heisman Trophy candidate Lee Suggs.
Noel completed his first 8 passes and was 16-20 overall for 267 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. He was poised and in control, with two of his incompletions coming on a drop by fullback Jarrett Ferguson and an intentional throw out of bounds.
Suggs led all rushers with 99 yards on 12 carries, and he had two touchdowns, but he left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury suffered on a seemingly harmless tackle. An MRI determined that Suggs has a torn ACL and a tear in the medial meniscus of his left knee.
The ACL tear may be an old high school injury or may be a new injury, and that is the determining factor in whether or not Suggs will be able to play again this year.
On Monday, surgeons will go in and repair the meniscus. If the ACL tear is an old one, Suggs will then be outfitted with a brace and will be able to play as soon as he's able. In this case, the ACL will be repaired in January.
If the injury is a new one, the ACL will be repaired immediately and Suggs will be out for the year.
With his two rushing touchdowns, Suggs becomes the career Virginia Tech leader in rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns. He now has 31 career rushing touchdowns and 32 touchdowns overall. Cyrus Lawrence (1979-82) previously held the rushing touchdown record with 30, and he previously shared the overall record of 30 touchdowns with Suggs and James Barber (1971-73).
The Hokies opened the scoring by going 58 yards on 4 plays in their first drive, culminating in a 47-yard touchdown pass from Noel to Andre Davis on a flanker screen. Davis caught the pass on the right, accelerated forward, and raced nearly untouched to the end zone for Noel's first career touchdown pass.
Connecticut responded with an 11-play drive that consumed nearly four minutes and resulted in a 42-yard field goal by Marc Hickok. The Hokies then embarked on a 7-play, 63-yard drive for a touchdown, taking a 14-3 lead on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Noel to Ferguson. Noel threw the ball to Ferguson in the left flat, and Ferguson turned it up the sideline for an easy touchdown.
With the Hokies seemingly in control and getting ready to pull away, Connecticut put together an impressive 10-play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown. Redshirt freshman quarterback Keron Henry faked the Hokies with play-action and then bootlegged right and ran 15 yards for the touchdown.
The first quarter ended with Tech up 14-10. Connecticut rolled up 121 yards on 21 plays in the first quarter.
Tech put the game on ice with three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 35-10 half time lead. Suggs had a 1-yard run and a 49-yard run, and Noel added his third and final touchdown pass on a beautiful 19-yard corner route to Davis. At half time, Noel was 13-16 for 209 yards and 3 TD's.
The Hokies substituted liberally in the second half, putting in true freshman quarterback Bryan Randall with four minutes to go in the third quarter. Randall threw 10 times, completing 5 for 56 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also ran 6 times for 37 yards. Tailbacks Keith Burnell (9 carries, 71 yards) and true freshman Kevin Jones (11 carries, 63 yards) played early and often.
Tech was led in receiving by Davis, with 4 catches for 94 yards (23.5 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. Shawn Witten had 3 catches for 43 yards, and Ferguson caught 3 passes (matching his total receptions for all of 2000) for 33 yards and a TD.
The Hokies had a solid game defensively, giving up 184 yards (just 63 in the last three quarters), including 74 rushing yards. But Tech had no sacks, forced no fumbles, and only had one interception, a leaping grab by true freshman DeAngelo Hall in the third quarter.
The Hokies' leading tackler was Jake Houseright, with 5 tackles. David Pugh had two tackles, both for loss, but the Hokies only had three tackles behind the line for a total of six yards in losses.
Next week, Virginia Tech will play a noon home game against Western Michigan, a 48-7 winner over Division 1-AA Illinois State in their season opener Thursday. The game will be televised by ESPN2.
RUSHING: Connecticut-K Henry 6-35, C Bellamy 8-22, Poole 6-14, Small 4-6, McClowry 1-1, Spence 1-minus 1, Team 1-minus 3. Virginia Tech-Suggs 12-99, K Burnell 9-71, Jones 11-63, Randall 6-30, E Johnson 1-11, Noel 3-6, Ferguson 2-6, W Ward 1-4, Andre Davis 1-minus 7.
PASSING: Connecticut-K Henry 10-29-1-110. Virginia Tech-Noel 16-20-0-267, Randall 5-10-0-56.
RECEIVING: Connecticut-Hill 2-58, Spence 2-16, Timko 2-13, Cutaia 2-11, Ridley 1-9, Drayton 1-3. Virginia Tech-Andre Davis 4-94, Whiten 3-43, Ferguson 3-33, R Johnson 2-29, Parham 2-25, E Johnson 2-19, K Willis 1-31, Slowikowski 1-20, Shrieve 1-13, R Moody 1-10, Briggs 1-6.