Tuesday, June 10th, 1997
Some 1993 Independence Bowl Notes
That's right, like many of you Hokies out there, I get through the long summer by watching football and basketball game tapes that I've recorded over the years. I'll admit that my collection is mostly football tapes, although in basketball, I do have copies of the 1995 NIT championship game and last year's GW game at the Cassell that features Ace's game-winner at the buzzer (I was there, and let me tell you, that was fun).
As for football, I've got tapes of every important Tech football game since 1993, plus a poor but watchable tape of the 1986 Peach Bowl. The only loss I have on tape is the 1996 Orange Bowl, because even though we lost, it was big-time football and an awesome showcase of Druck's and Ox's talents. I'm very proud of the way my boys played in that game, so I kept it.
The only other loss I pondered keeping was Druck's debut against Boston College in 1995. I kept that one a loooong time but eventually, I recorded over it.
Having said all that, please don't send me email asking me to record games for you, because I can't do it.
But back to the subject. My latest Hokie football rerun was the 1993 Independence Bowl, and I had a blast watching it. Here are some of the things I noticed while reliving that piece of Hokie history.....
- Five freshmen started for the Hokies in that game, and every one started as a senior this past year. On defense, the freshman starters were Cornell Brown, Torrian Gray, Antonio Banks (subbing for an injured Tyronne Drakeford?), and Waverly Jackson. On offense, Billy Conaty started at tackle (some guy named Pyne was playing center). Other freshmen who saw significant playing time were Brian Edmonds and Cornelius White.
- Bryan Still, although he played, was a non-factor. Antonio Freeman was the money receiver back then, and Steve Sanders (#3) started opposite him. Jim Druckenmiller can be seen cheering on the sidelines several times - he's tall, but he's noticeably skinnier than he would ultimately be years later. Dwayne Thomas, starting as a sophomore, displayed his patented spin move a couple of times. Joe Swarm (#34 - remember him?) played a great game at fullback. Over on defense, Dwayne Knight (#20), the first to play the Whip linebacker position, started alongside George Del Ricco and future NFL'er Ken Brown. Robbie Colley punted and Ryan Williams kicked.
- The sideline reporter for the game was non other than Mike Mayock, who did the color analysis in the booth this past year for CBS on at least two Tech games (if I remember correctly, he was in the booth for the 1996 Tech/UVa game and the Orange Bowl against Nebraska). He always compliments the Hokies heavily in the CBS broadcasts, and if his first exposure to the Hokies was the '93 I-Bowl, I can see why.
- What most Hokie fans remember is that Tech scored two touchdowns in the last 24 seconds of the first half to take a commanding 28-13 lead into the locker room. Lawrence Lewis (#56) returned a John Paci fumble for a TD, and then Banks (pop quiz: what number was he wearing?) returned a blocked field goal 80 yards as time expired. What is generally not
remembered by many fans is that Tech scored two more touchdowns in a 16-second span in the fourth quarter. The first score came when Antonio Freeman was awarded a TD on a long catch, despite stepping out of bounds not once, but twice. Indiana fumbled on their next play from scrimmage, and Banks picked it up and nearly scored again, returning it to the Hoosier 5. Hokie freshman "Touchdown" Tommy Edwards did the honors on the next play, and the score was 42-13. The Hokies tacked on a field goal and Indiana scored another TD to make the final score 45-20.
- Regarding Edwards, color analyst Rick Walker remarked, "This young man's got a bright future here at Virginia Tech." Cringe. Yes, Rick, many Hokie fans were blinded by the speed with which Tommy transferred after his sophomore year. Touchdown Tommy scored 11 TD's as a freshman, but what many Hokie fans remember about him, rightly or wrongly, is his indecision and inability to field kickoffs in the UVa debacle of 1994. When Tech recruited Ken Oxendine at the end of the 1993 season, Edwards saw the handwriting on the wall and transferred to a 1-AA school.
- Indiana had approximately 150 yards of offense in the first half, which doesn't sound bad, but two of their plays covered 76 and 38 yards. Their remaining 24 plays of the half totaled about 36 yards, or a measly 1.5 yards per play. They had 5 yards rushing in the first half. Indiana offensive lineman would later say about the Hokie defenders, "They were quick. They just wouldn't stay blocked." If you watch the game tape, it shows.
- It was the 8-3 and 21st-ranked Hoosiers' 6th bowl in 8 years at the time, but it has all been downhill since then. They are now one of the weak links in the Big 11, ultimately resulting in long-time coach Bill Mallory losing his job. On the upside, Torrian Gray, at the end of his career this year, called Indiana star receiver Thomas Lewis, who scored on a 76-yard pass play in the '93 I-Bowl, the "best receiver I ever played against." Lewis made the NFL and now plays for the New York Giants.
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