Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl:
Virginia Tech 20, Air Force 13
December 31, 2002
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
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San Francisco, CA - The Hokies spotted Air Force a 10-point lead, scored the next 17 points, and turned the Falcons away inside the Hokie ten-yard line as time expired to win 20-13, in the inaugural Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl.
Air Force scored ten early points in this one, and Tech responded by scoring the next 17 points, taking a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter on Lee Suggs' 1-yard TD run. The two teams traded field goals in the fourth quarter, and on their last possession of the game, the Falcons drove from their 18-yard line to the Tech 10-yard line, where they had first and goal with 17 seconds to go.
After two incomplete passes left the Falcons with third and goal with seven seconds to go, Air Force QB Chance Harridge dropped back and was flushed from the pocket. He ran to the Tech 5-yard line, where he was met by Vegas Robinson and Ronyell Whitaker. Driven backwards, Harridge lateraled the ball to offensive guard Brett Huyser, who was swarmed over at the VT 11 as time expired.
The Hokies were outrushed by Air Force, 238-140, and Air Force outgained Tech 329-317. But one difference was in the quarterback play, where Tech's Bryan Randall went 18-23 for 177 yards, no TD's, and no interceptions. Meanwhile, Air Force QB Chance Harridge went just 4-19 for 91 yards, no TD's, and two interceptions. After completing a 47-yard pass on the second play of the game, Harridge threw twelve straight incompletions, before going 3-6 in his last six attempts.
The Falcons held Tech's offense in check for much of the game, limiting Lee Suggs to 74 yards on 19 carries. Suggs did score Tech's two touchdowns, extending his NCAA record to 27 consecutive games with a TD scored. Kevin Jones ran for 38 yards on 11 carries, and Randall had a quiet day rushing, running just 8 times for 12 yards. Tech was led in receiving by Ernest Wilford with 5 catches for 50 yards, and Shawn Witten and Terrell Parham had four catches each, for 48 and 35 yards, respectively.
For the Falcons, tailback Anthony Butler had 17 carries for 81 yards and Harridge had 18 carries for 75 yards.
Air Force opened the game with a six-play, 80-yard TD drive, featuring a 47-yard pass from Harridge to Anthony Park. The drive was finished off by a 15-yard TD run by Matt Ward on a reverse.
The Hokies turned the ball over on their first drive, when Lee Suggs fumbled and Air Force recovered on the Tech 35-yard line. Suggs was down on the play when the ball came loose, but the officials ruled it a fumble. The Hokies held the Falcons to a 45-yard field goal, and Air Force had a 10-0 lead with 7:45 to go in the first quarter.
The Hokies stiffened from that point on and gradually added points to the board. Suggs scored on a 16-yard TD run with 2:26 to go in the first quarter. The drive started at the Air Force 13-yard line when Vegas Robinson intercepted a pass at the Tech 45-yard line and lateraled it to DeAngelo Hall, who took it to Air Force's 26-yard line. Harridge hit Hall late out of bounds, and the ball was spotted at the Falcon 13-yard to start Tech's possession. After a loss of three yards, Suggs ran it in from the 16 on the second play of the drive.
Carter Warley hit a 22-yard field goal to make it 10-10 with 33 seconds to go before half time. Tech took the lead for good with a sharp 8-play, 61-yard drive in the third quarter that Suggs capped with a 1-yard TD run.
The fourth quarter featured just three possessions. Air Force drove all the way to the Hokie four-yard line, but settled for a field goal that made it 17-13 with 9:58 to go. Tech responded with a 14-play drive that ate up 5:47 from the clock and ended with a 37-yard Carter Warley field goal with 4:11 to go, putting Tech up 20-13.
Air Force then drove from their 18-yard line to Tech's 10-yard line, but the game ended with Harridge's failed scramble on third and goal.
RUSHING-Virginia Tech, Suggs 19-74, Jones 11-38, Easlick 2-16, Randall 8-12. Air Force, Butler 17-81, Harridge 18-75, Palmer 4-22, Ward 2-20, Massie 5-17, Clark 2-10, Heier 1-4, Stephens 2-4, Cole 1-3, Gershitz 1-2.
PASSING-Virginia Tech, Randall 18-23-0-177. Air Force, Harridge 4-19-2-91.
RECEIVING-Virginia Tech, Wilford 5-50, Witten 4-48, Parham 4-35, Willis
1-20, Easlick 1-10, Hamilton 1-7, Jones 2-7. Air Force, Park 1-47, Waller 1-20, Strecker 1-18, Heier 1-6.