West Virginia 21, Virginia Tech 18
November 20, 2002
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com

                         1    2    3    4    F
                        --  ---  ---  ---  ---
Virginia Tech (12)       7    3    6    2   18
West Virginia            7    7    7    0   21

1st Quarter:
VT-Suggs 28 run (Warley kick), 4:57 remaining
WV-Cobourne 9 run (James kick), 2:45

2nd Quarter:
WV-Marshall 7 run (James kick), 14:21
VT-Warley 34 FG, 6:49

3rd Quarter:
WV-Wilson 42 run (James kick), 4:09
VT-Willis 6 pass from Randall (pass failed), 1:29

4th Quarter:
VT-Safety, Fazzolari runs out of back of end zone, 2:30

Blacksburg, VA - West Virginia's Brian King intercepted Virginia Tech QB Bryan Randall in the end zone with 12 seconds left to go, securing a 21-18 victory for the Mountaineers and continuing the Hokies' late-season swoon. Tech has now lost three in a row, the first time they have lost three regular-season games in a row since they ended the 1994 season with a loss to Virginia and opened the 1995 season with losses to Boston College and Cincinnati.

Randall's interception was a fatal mistake that came on 2nd and 10 from the WVU 11-yard line, with the Hokies in prime position for a game-tying field goal. Randall was flushed from the pocket and tried to hit Ernest Wilford streaking across the back of the end zone, but King broke off coverage of Shawn Witten near the goal line and peeled back to make the pickoff.

The interception was just one of several squandered scoring opportunities for the Hokies. Midway through the third quarter, a 27-yard Lee Suggs TD run that would have put the Hokies up 17-14 was wiped out by a holding call. The Hokies also failed to score a go-ahead TD with under four minutes to go, when Tech had a 2nd and goal from the WVU one-yard line, only to have the Mountaineers stuff three straight Hokie rushing plays up the middle.

WVU led 21-16 when they executed that goal-line stand with 3:51 to go. It gave the Mountaineers possession on their own one-yard line, and when they were forced into a punting situation from the three-yard line with 2:33 to go, WVU coach Rich Rodriguez instructed punter Mark Fazzolari to take a safety by running out of the end zone.

On the ensuing free kick from the 20-yard line, the Mountaineers kicked the ball out of bounds, giving Tech possession from the 50-yard line with 2:30 to go and no timeouts. The Hokies put together a nice ten-play drive, converting two third downs in the process, but they came up short when Randall threw the game-ending interception.

The mistake tainted a solid game from Randall, who went 18-of-30 for 168 yards, 1 touchdown, and the 1 interception. Randall also rushed for a team-high 125 yards on 18 carries, leading the Hokies to 243 yards rushing against WVU's 11th-ranked rush defense (95.1 yards per game coming in).

Defensively, the once-impenetrable Tech rush defense yielded 263 yards to WVU on 46 carries, approximately 32 yards less than WVU's 2nd-ranked rushing offense was averaging coming into the game. The Hokies limited WVU star tailback Avon Cobourne to 80 yards on 19 carries, but Tech was burned by backup Quincy Wilson, who had 129 yards on 11 carries, including a 42-yard TD run that put WVU up 21-10 with four minutes to go in the third quarter.

Tech has now given up an astounding 739 yards rushing in the last three games. On the night, the Hokies gave up runs of 24, 27, 42, and 25 yards, and in all, surrendered ten rushing plays of 10 or more yards. But they stiffened late in the game, allowing only 15 yards in the fourth quarter. The Hokies outgained WVU 411 yards to 387, but the blown scoring opportunities cost them the win.

The Hokies were led defensively by Willie Pile, who had 10 tackles, and Nathaniel Adibi, who had two tackles for loss and a QB hurry that resulted in an incompletion on third down. The return of linebacker Vegas Robinson was a mixed bag, as Robinson had 7 tackles and forced a fumble but was burned a few times for long runs.

For the Mountaineers, QB Rasheed Marshall was 13-of-20 for 124 yards, 56 of which came on one play, and he threw one interception and no TD's. WVU was led in tackling by Angel Estrada, who had 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack.

Game Recap

The Hokies got on board first when Lee Suggs, who had 71 yards on 15 carries, ran his way into the NCAA record book with a 28-yard option TD. The TD was the 24th consecutive game in which Suggs has scored a touchdown, breaking the previous Division I record of 23 games set by Arkansas' Bill Burnett from 1968 to 1970.

Suggs' score capped a 6-play, 72-yard drive. WVU answered with a 5-play, 80-yard drive that took just 2:12 off the clock. Cobourne scored from 9 yards out after a 56-yard Derrick Smith catch-and-run spotted the ball inside the Hokie ten.

After a Hokie three-and-out, WVU scored easily again, this time on a 7-yard run by QB Rasheed Marshall, to go up 14-7. The drive was 5 plays, 70 yards, and took just 1:12, and it looked like the Hokies were in deep trouble.

But Tech's Ernest Wilford, who had 58 yards on 5 catches, blocked a punt, and the Hokies recovered on the WVU 15 with 8:16 to go in the second quarter. The Hokies had to settle for a field goal and went into half time down 14-10.

WVU drove smartly down the field to open the second half, but they were turned away on an end zone interception by Blake Warren. Warren snared a ball that was tipped by Billy Hardee.

The Hokies powered down the field for what appeared to be a go-ahead TD on a Suggs 27-yard run, but the play was called back on a holding penalty. The Hokies moved the ball to the WVU 21-yard line, but another holding penalty and a sack pushed them out of field goal range.

WVU took over on their 14-yard line after a punt and went 86 yards for the score, with Wilson rushing 42 yards for a TD through a gaping hole in the left side of the Hokie defense. The score came with 4:09 to go in the third quarter and put WVU up 21-10.

The Hokies responded with a 7-play, 69-yard drive that ended in a 6-yard TD pass from Randall to tight end Keith Willis. On the play, Randall rolled right, turned and hit the wide-open Willis for the easy score. Tech tried to go for 2, but Randall's pass attempt was picked off by Grant Wiley, and the score was 21-16 with 1:29 to go in the third.

The Hokies dominated the fourth quarter, holding WVU to just one first down and 15 yards of offense, but Tech couldn't produce points when it counted. First the Hokies drove to the WVU 32-yard line, only to lose the ball on downs when Randall threw incomplete to Richard Johnson on 4th and 4.

Then came a 13-play, 71-yard drive that ended in the WVU goal line stand with 3:51 to go. And Tech's last possession culminated in the Randall interception to King that iced the game.

The Hokies will not play again for ten days, and will then face Virginia at Lane Stadium on Saturday, November 30th. The game will most likely be a 3:30 ESPN telecast.

Click here for TSL's post-game analysis.


                          WV          VT
                        ----        ----
First downs               20          23
Rushed-yards          46-263      44-243
Passing yards            124         168
Sacked-yards lost        0-0         2-7
Return yards               9          52
Passes               13-20-1     18-30-1
Punts                 5-27/0      4-36.3
Fumbles-lost             2-0         1-1
Penalties-yards         9-75        6-75
Time of possession     28:05       31:55

Att: 62,723

Individual Statistics

RUSHING: VT-Randall 18-125; Suggs 15-71; Jones 9-36; Easlick 2-11. WVU-Wilson 11-125; Cobourne 19-80; Marshall 12-43; Garvin 2-22; Fazzolari 1-(-3); Team 1-(-4).

PASSING: VT-RANDALL, Bryan 18-30-1-168. WVU-Marshall 13-20-1-124.

RECEIVING: VT-Wilford 5-58; Witten 3-45; Suggs 3-22; Easlick 2-17; Johnson 2-6; Humes 1-7; Shreve 1-7; Willis 1-6. WVU-Smith 4-93; Cobourne 3-12; Wilson 3-12; Page 1-5; Neal 1-5; Marshall 1-(-3).


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