Virginia Tech 35, West Virginia 0
October 6, 2001
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
1 2 3 4 F
Morgantown, WV - This game was supposed to be tougher than the Hokies' first four wins, but in the end, it was just another Tech romp, with the Hokies rolling 35-0 at Mountaineer Field.
Paced by Keith Burnell's two touchdowns and 102 yards rushing on 22 carries, the Hokies were solid enough offensively to complement a great defensive effort that shut down the Mountaineers. The Tech defense even got into the scoring column, when defensive end Jim Davis went 27 yards with a third quarter interception for a touchdown.
Tech scored twice in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by Burnell and a 3-yard run by fullback Jarrett Ferguson, boosting the Hokies to a 14-0 lead less than 11 minutes into the contest. When true freshman Kevin Jones burst off tackle for a 44-yard TD early in the second quarter, the rout was on.
Tech quarterback Grant Noel threw his first two interceptions of the season and failed to throw a TD for the second game in a row. On the positive side, he was 12-20 for 171 yards, including 109 yards to Andre Davis and Terrell Parham, who had three catches each. Noel threw sharply to the tight ends, as usual, with Browning Wynn catching three balls for 42 yards.
"I thought our defense was exceptional," Tech Coach Frank Beamer said in the post-game. "Offensively, we had our moments. We made a couple of plays in the kicking game, and that's kind of the way it's been going."
The Hokie defense, in notching their third shutout in the last four games, dominated the Mountaineer offense. West Virginia, which had been averaging 84 plays and 399.8 yards per game, ran just 74 plays and accumulated just 173 yards against Tech's stingy D. The Hokies had a season-high five sacks on the day (led by tackle Dan Wilkinson with two) and intercepted three passes (Davis, Kevin McCadam, and Larry Austin all had pickoffs).
WVU had 11 first downs. The Mountaineers had seven drives of three-and-out, and they never got more than two first downs on the same drive. WVU's longest drive was 27 yards, and they only ventured into Tech territory twice. WVU's deepest penetration was the Tech 27 yard line, where they lost the ball on downs after a fake punt.
"I think our football team was well-prepared. We were lucky to come in here when we did," Beamer noted, referring to the fact that West Virginia has a new coaching staff and is trying to learn new offensive and defensive schemes.
WVU Coach Rich Rodriguez was not so kind to his team. "I definitely don't think we played well," he said in his post-game interviews. "We had stupid turnovers again. They throw it up and get it. We throw it up and don't get it. We need to make plays. Flat-out embarrassing."
But Rodriguez was complimentary of the Hokies, adding, "They're real good. Definitely a top-five team."
The 35-0 whitewash represents the biggest Tech point total and biggest margin of victory ever at Mountaineer Field. The Hokies last blanked WVU in Morgantown in 1995, 27-0.
After uneventful possessions by both teams to start the game, Tech's second possession started on their 44-yard line, and Noel hit tight end Browning Wynn for a 13-yard gain to the Mountaineer 43. After two Keith Burnell running plays gave the Hokies a first and 10 at the 28, Noel hit Wynn again, this time to the 14 for another first down. Burnell ran off-tackle to the 3 on the next play, and then punched it in two plays later from the 1, finishing the 7-play, 56 yard drive.
After the Hokie score, Dan Wilkinson sacked WVU QB Brad Lewis on third and 11, forcing a punt. Andre Davis nearly broke the ensuing punt return for a touchdown, returning it from the Tech 38 down the left sideline to the WVU 9. Tech fullback Jarrett Ferguson punched it in from the 3 on third and goal, making it 14-0, Tech.
The Hokies stifled WVU's next drive with a three and out, but on Tech's next possession, Grant Noel threw his first interception of the year, and WVU took over on their own 45. On the play, Noel scrambled and threw the ball into tight coverage.
"I'm not so sure the first one wasn't the receiver's fault," Beamer noted about the interception. "He kind of got to standing around out there a little bit."
WVU advanced the ball to the Tech 34, and on 4th and 3 early in the second quarter, Ronyell Whitaker broke up the pass, and the Hokies took over on downs. The Hokies quickly moved the ball to the WVU 31, where Noel threw another interception, this one directly to WVU linebacker Grant Wiley, who returned it 15 yards to the WVU 36.
The Mountaineers turned it back over two plays later when Lewis threw a sideline interception to Tech's Kevin McCadam, and the Hokies took over on the Mountaineer 44. On the very next play, tailback Kevin Jones scored the second TD of his college career, on an off tackle run on which he was barely touched. It was 21-0 Tech, with over eleven minutes to go in the second quarter, and the air went out of the Mountaineer crowd.
The two teams traded possessions, and with nine minutes to go before half time, the Mountaineers pulled Lewis from the game and substituted Derek Jones at quarterback. Jones had no better luck on his first drive than Lewis, and the Mountaineers once again punted after a quick three and out.
On Tech's next drive, after a series of miscues including a fumbled snap and a late hit penalty on offensive tackle Anthony Davis, the Hokies faced a third and 22 at their 22 yard line. Kevin Jones peeled off a 78-yard run for a TD, but it was called back on a holding penalty off the ball. The Hokies were forced to punt, and WVU took over on the 50.
With Derek Jones converting two key third down passes, WVU moved to the Tech 23 yard line. On fourth and 6, WVU lined up for a field goal and faked it. The holder rose up out of his crouch and attempted to run with the snap, but Tech's T.J. Jackson crushed him well behind the line to turn the ball over on downs with 41 seconds left in the half. The Hokies ran out the clock and went into half time with a 21-0 lead.
At half time, Tech had 148 yards rushing and 66 yards passing. Burnell led the Hokies in the first half with 67 yards on 13 carries. Jones, despite being denied the 78-yard TD, was right behind him with 59 yards on 6 carries. Noel was 6-11 passing for 66 yards, and Wynn led the Hokies in receiving at the half with 3 catches for 42 yards.
The Hokies drove the opening kickoff of the second half to the WVU 31-yard line, with a key play coming on an 18-yard completion to Parham on 3rd and 2 from the WVU 47. Tech was unable to convert, and Eric Green pinned the Mountaineers at the one-foot line when he caught Vinnie Burns's punt and downed it.
The Mountaineers were able to move the ball out of the shadow of their goal line before punting, and the Hokies responded with a 4-play, 46-yard drive to make it 28-0 on a 10-yard run by Burnell. During the drive, Noel completed a 38-yard pass to Andre Davis on third and 12 that set up Burnell's run. Noel's pass was wobbly and underthrown, but Davis came back and beat the WVU defensive back for the catch.
The Hokies tacked on another touchdown two and a half minutes later when defensive end Jim Davis made a leaping interception of Derek Jones's pass and rumbled 27 yards unopposed to the end zone.
"That kid falls into more plays," defensive line coach Charley Wiles said of Davis's interception. "He's just got that Midas touch. We had worked on them chopping us in the quick (passing) game, and that's what they tried to do, was chop him. He was able to stay on his feet and avoid the chop, and he got his hands on it. The quarterback threw it kind of hard, but it just kinda stuck in there. He did a nice job of returning it."
Davis was all smiles about the play. He was asked when he had last scored a touchdown, and he said, "Five years old, in peewee ball. I was a running back."
Davis's score made it 35-0, Hokies, and that would stand as the final score. Tech would threaten again early in the fourth quarter, but Kevin Jones was stopped on fourth and goal from the one.
Though the Hokies dominated WVU and controlled the game, Beamer sees room for improvement. "We just need a little more consistency," he said, using his favorite word. "We just have to keep working."
RUSHING: VT-Burnell 22-102, Jones 16-67, Noel 7-28, Ward 4-16, Ferguson 3-6, Briggs 1-4, Randall 2-1, Jason Davis 1-0. WVU-Cobourne 18-31, Brown 1-11, Rego 1-4, Nastasi 2-0, Jones 13-(-4), Lewis 1-(-9).
PASSING: VT-Noel 12-20-2-171, Randall 2-4-0-17. WVU-Jones 9-23-2-98, Lewis 6-15-1-42.
RECEIVING: VT-Davis 3-58, Parham 3-51, Wynn 3-42, Ferguson 1-10, Moody 1-9, Ward 1-8, Briggs 1-5, Wilford 1-5. WVU-Braxton 5-62, Cobourne 4-33, Terry 3-31, Brown 2-11, Nastasi 1-3.