Virginia Tech 13, Texas A&M 3
September 21, 2002
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
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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+.
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.