Hokies Down Tigers, 31-11
Blacksburg, Va. -- For 57 minutes, the Clemson Tigers gave eighth-ranked Virginia Tech all they could handle. Unfortunately for the Tigers, a football game is 60 minutes long.
Behind a strong defense and an exciting young quarterback, the Hokies outlasted a tough Clemson team 31-11 in a game that wasn’t decided until the final three minutes.
The Tiger offense was strong on its opening drive, starting the first series with Travis Zachary’s eleven yard-run. After a personal foul call against Virginia Tech and a Brandon Street twelve yard-pass to Brian Wofford, the Tigers appeared to be in good shape with a first down at the Hokie’s 24 yard line. The Hokie defense stiffened behind defensive end Corey Moore’s sack of Streeter, forcing Clemson to attempt a 36-yard field goal. Chris Campbell’s kick sailed wide right and the Hokies took over.
Virginia Tech (3-0) opened the scoring in the first quarter with an eleven play, 80-yard drive culminating in Shyrone Stith’s three yard-run. Tech’s much heralded freshman quarterback Michael Vick scrambled eleven yards and later hit wide receiver Andre Davis for 25 yards to highlight the drive.
Following the ensuing kick-off, Clemson’s offense netted –14 yards on three plays and the Tigers were forced to punt from their own endzone. Tech capitalized quickly on excellent field position, needing only :37 before Andre Kendrick scampered into the endzone from 24 yards.
After the Hokies coughed up the ball at the Clemson 30, the Tiger offense awoke. Keyed by a Streeter pass over the middle to Rod Gardner for 29 yards, the Tigers marched 60 yards in 15 plays. Once again, the Clemson offense sputtered in the red-zone and the Tigers were forced to attempt a field goal. This time, Chris Cambell would connect from 20 yards, putting the Tigers on the board and cutting the Hokie lead to 14-3.
On Virginia Tech’s second possession of the third quarter, the Hokies pounded the ball down to the Clemson thirteen yard-line behind the running of Stith and Jarrett Ferguson. On third and three from the thirteen, Michael Vick’s pass into the endzone was picked off for the second time by Clemson safety Robert Carswell, thwarting the Hokie drive and keeping Clemson within striking distance.
Early in the fourth quarter, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden reached into his bag of tricks. After taking possession at their own 16, the Tigers methodically marched down the field on a number of short passes from Streeter to the Tiger wideouts. When the Tigers failed to convert on third and twelve, Bowden sent out the field goal unit. Instead of snapping the ball to the holder, the ball went to kicker Tony Lazzara. Lazzara rolled out left and hit Vince Ciurciu in the endzone. Brandon Steeter then found tight end Jason LeMay for the two point conversion and the Tigers pulled to within three, 14-11.
The Hokies started their following drive from their own eight. Sparked by a 21- yard pass from Vick to tight end Derek Carter, Virginia Tech drove 62 yards on 13 plays to the Clemson 30-yard line. Shayne Graham hit a 47-yard field goal and Tech went ahead 17-11.
Virginia Tech put the Tigers away with three minutes remaining when Ike Charlton picked off a Brandon Streeter pass and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown.
The Hokies continued to pour it on thirty seconds later when Corey Moore sacked Streeter and knocked the ball loose. Moore also recovered the fumble and rambled 32 yards to add seven more points to make it 31-11.
With the loss, Clemson fell to 1-2. The Tigers return to action October 2 in Death Valley against UNC.