Seminoles Knock Off Tech in Gator Bowl
By Jimmy Robertson
January 1, 2002

JACKSONVILLE - Despite 158 yards receiving from André Davis in the final game of his career, Virginia Tech couldn't hold off the big-play capabilities of Florida State, falling to the Seminoles, 30-17, in front of 72,202 fans at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., on New Year's Day.

The Hokies finished their season with an 8-4 record and fell to 5-10 in bowl games, including 1-3 in the Gator Bowl. The loss dropped Tech head coach Frank Beamer's record in bowl games to 4-5.

FSU, meanwhile, improved to 19-10-2 overall in bowls. That includes a 17-5-1 record under head coach Bobby Bowden. With the win, Bowden tied Paul "Bear" Bryant for second-place on the all-time NCAA Division I wins list. He now has 323 wins as a head coach.

In a game eerily similar to the 1999 Sugar Bowl game in which the Hokies and Seminoles battled for the national championship, Tech led after three quarters. A 55-yard touchdown pass from Tech quarterback Grant Noel to Davis with 40 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Hokies a 17-13 lead.

But then the big plays by FSU killed Tech. On the first play of the fourth quarter, FSU quarterback Chris Rix found Javon Walker on a 77-yard scoring play that gave the Seminoles a 20-17 lead.

The Hokies drove to the Seminole 32 on their next possession, but tailback Kevin Jones was stoned on fourth-and-1, giving FSU the ball on downs. On the next play, Rix hit Walker again, this time for 50 yards to the Tech 18. That led to a 35-yard field goal by Xavier Beitia with 10:13 left in the game that gave the Seminoles a 23-17.

Then the Seminoles put the game away late in the fourth quarter. A 23-yard touchdown pass from Rix to Walker accounted for the final margin.

Rix threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns, while Walker caught four passes for 195 yards - a new Gator Bowl record - and two touchdowns. Walker was named the FSU's most valuable player in the game.

"It's pretty simple," Beamer said. "Too many big plays. And then we didn't take advantage of field position early in the game. When you don't do those things, you don't win."

Noel completed 15-of-27 for 269 yards for Tech. Davis was the Hokies' MVP in the game, catching five passes for 158 yards and a score.

The loss marked the end of the careers of 22 Tech seniors. The Hokies' senior class goes down as the winningest class in school history with a 39-9 record.

"It's emotional on all our parts," defensive tackle Chad Beasley said. "To think that this is the last time I'll put on a Tech uniform with all these guys is tough. But at least we'll have those relationships to take with us."