Virginia Tech
13, Texas A&M 3
September 21, 2002
by Will Stewart,

                         1   2   3   4    F
                        --  --  --  --   --
Texas A&M (21)           3   0   0   0    3
Virginia Tech (7)        0   3   3   7   13

1st Quarter:
TAMU-Pegram 43 FG, 4:58 remaining

2nd Quarter:
VT-Warley 22 FG, 0:57

3rd Quarter:
VT-Warley 26 FG, 9:10

4th Quarter:
VT-Suggs 1 run (Warley kick), 12:29

College Station, TX - The Hokies won a defensive struggle 13-3, breaking Texas A&M's 29-game non-conference home winning streak, behind stingy defense and the steady play of quarterback Bryan Randall.

Despite all the hoopla about Texas A&M's "Wrecking Crew" defense, the story of the game was a Virginia Tech defense that shut down the Texas A&M offense, giving up just 156 yards. Texas A&M's longest drive of the day was just 31 yards, and the A&M offense gained just 59 yards in the second and third quarters, as the Hokies turned a 3-0 deficit into a 6-3 lead.

The play that finally broke this low-scoring slugfest open was a 52-yard catch-and-run from Tech's Bryan Randall to split end Ernest Wilford. Facing a third and six from the Tech 47 yard line early in the fourth quarter, Randall read an A&M blitz and hit Wilford with a short pass in single coverage. Wilford dodged the defender and broke downfield, where he ran to the A&M 1-yard line before safety Terrence Kiel caught him and tackled him.

Lee Suggs punched it in from there on the next play, extending his consecutive-game streak with a touchdown to 17. The Hokies led 13-3, with 12:29 to go, and A&M was unable to mount a comeback.

The 52-yard pass play was the highlight of a solid game by Randall, who missed his first pass terribly but rebounded to hit his next ten and finish 10-of-11 for 119 yards, no TD's, and most importantly, no interceptions. Randall also had 17 carries for 14 yards, but his rushing total included 24 yards lost on four sacks. Randall faced a fierce pass rush all day long and often tucked and ran, but when he threw it, he was deadly accurate.

Suggs' touchdown was one bright spot in an otherwise frustrating day for the Virginia Tech offense. The Hokies took five trips down inside the A&M ten yard line and only had two field goals and a touchdown to show for it. Carter Warley missed a 21-yard field goal and had a 22-yarder blocked. He made kicks of 22 and 26 yards on a day when the VT offense saw the A&M goal line from close range a number of times but could not stick the ball in the end zone.

A&M's rushing defense was as good as advertised, limiting Tech to 129 yards on 48 carries (2.7 yards per carry). VT had 171 positive rushing yards but lost 42 yards on sacks and tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The Wrecking Crew held VT's Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones to 99 yards on 28 carries. They also threw Suggs for a loss for the first time this season, doing it twice.

But the Hokie defense one-upped them, holding A&M to 38 yards on 28 carries (1.4 yards per carry). Virginia Tech held Texas A&M to 14-of-35 passing for 118 yards, including just 6-of-23 for 77 yards in the second half. The Hokies picked off A&M quarterbacks twice.

The Aggies controlled the early going, winning the field position battle and getting a 43-yard field goal from true freshman Todd Pegram on their second possession to go up 3-0.

The Hokies answered with one of their best drives, a 13-play, 75-yard monster that, unfortunately for Tech, ended in a missed 22-yard field goal by Carter Warley early in the second quarter. It was the second-longest drive of the game for either team, but it failed when the right-footed Warley missed the difficult short kick from the right hash mark.

Later in the second quarter, A&M got one of their best scoring opportunities when Jones fumbled on the VT 37 and the Aggies recovered. A&M's drive ended when a fourth-and-four pass from the Tech 29 yard line was tipped by DeAngelo Hall and intercepted at the 12-yard line by Willie Pile, who returned it to the Tech 28 to end the threat.

The Hokies took control of the field-position game for the remainder of the quarter and cashed it in when Warley kicked a 21-yard field goal with under a minute to go in the second quarter. The game was 3-3 at the half.

The Hokies tacked on another field goal early in the third quarter, this one a 26-yarder that came as the result of a Vegas Robinson interception of true freshman A&M QB Reggie McNeal. McNeal subbed for starter Dustin Long as the second half opened and threw a hideous interception straight to Robinson on the Aggie 12. The Tech offense moved the ball down to the A&M 5 yard line, but a third-down option play designed to move the ball to the middle of the field was stuffed for a four-yard loss, and the Hokies kicked the field goal to go up 6-3.

The two teams traded defensive stops until early in the fourth quarter, when Randall hit Wilford with the 52-yarder that set up Suggs' game-breaking TD.

On A&M's next possession, Terrance Murphy caught a pass, but he fumbled it when Tech's Michael Crawford hit him hard. The ball popped up in the air, and Pile plucked it out of the air at the A&M 38 and ran it to the 7-yard line.

Again, the Hokies failed to score when three straight running plays were stuffed, and Warley's 22-yard field goal attempt was blocked.

From that point on, the Aggies went to the air, and it was obvious they were out of their element. A&M's QB's went 4-for-15 and were sacked twice in the Aggies' last four possessions.

With the win, the seventh-ranked Hokies finish off a tough three-game stretch and go to 4-0. They will head to Western Michigan next week for a noon game that will be televised by ESPN+.

Game Notes

  • Virginia Tech ran the ball 48 times and threw it just 11. Tech has now thrown the ball 55 times on the season, versus 206 rushing attempts.
  • The Hokies won the turnover battle 3-1 and continue to shine in the turnover margin statistic. Tech now has just three turnovers on the season, and their opponents have 13, for a +2.5 turnover margin per game.
  • Virginia Tech ran ten plays inside the Aggie ten yard line and didn't throw a single pass. The ten plays were all rushes, and they netted just three yards. One of the plays was a sack of Bryan Randall.
  • The Hokies were led defensively by Willie Pile, who had eight tackles, a fumble recovery and return for 31 yards, and an interception with a 17-yard return.
  • Tech had ten tackles for loss totaling 43 yards in losses. The Hokies had five sacks for 32 yards in losses, with Nathaniel Adibi racking up 2.5 sacks for 14 yards.
  • Texas A&M's deepest penetration was the Hokie 25-yard line, and the last time A&M finished a drive in Tech territory came with 7:32 to go in the second quarter. From that point on, the Aggies crossed midfield just once, late in the third quarter, and were promptly driven back to the 50 by two straight sacks by Adibi and Cols Colas.

  • McNeal played the entire third quarter for A&M, going 1-of-6 for just 7 yards. Dustin Long was 13-of 28 for 111 yards.
  • After A&M dominated field position in the first quarter, the Hokies controlled it the rest of the game. The Aggies' average starting position was their own 24-yard line, and for the Hokies, it was their own 40-yard line.
  • The win is Tech's third over ranked teams in consecutive games. The only other time they have pulled off that feat was 1996, when they beat #18 Miami, #23 WVU, and #20 Virginia in successive weeks.
  • The Kyle Field crowd of 83,746 is the biggest crowd to ever see the Hokies play.

Click here for TSL's post-game analysis.


                          VT        TAMU
                        ----        ----
First downs               13          10
Rushed-yards          48-129       28-38
Passing yards            119         118
Sacked-yards lost       4-24        5-32
Return yards              85           6
Passes               10-11-0     14-35-2
Punts                 7-40.7      7-48.3
Fumbles-lost             2-1         2-1
Penalties-yards         2-20        5-40
Time of possession     32:57       27:03

Att: 83,746

Individual Statistics

RUSHING: VT-Suggs, 13-51; Jones, 15-48; Randall, 17-14; R. Johnson, 1-13; Easlick, 2-3. Texas A&M-Farmer, 12-22; McNeal, 6-5; Joseph, 1-4; Weber, 2-4; Long, 4-2; Goynes, 1-1; Flemming, 2-0.

PASSING: VT-Randall, 10-11-0-119. Texas A&M-Long, 13-28-1-111; McNeal, 1-6-1-7; Team 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING: VT-Parham, 4-23; Wilford, 2-63; Witten, 2-21; R. Johnson, 1-8; Humes, 1-4. Texas A&M-Taylor, 5-56; Murphy, 4-25; Thomas, 2-19; Porter, 2-10; Weber, 1-8.


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