Tech Wins Home Season Opener 47-0
Hokies go up and over Dukes for first opening game shutout since 1953.
September 4, 1999

by Jimmy Robertson
Editor, Hokie Huddler

The 1,000th football game at Virginia Tech certainly possessed a flair for the dramatic.

And that's hard to believe considering the Hokies hog-tied Division I-AA foe James Madison 47-0 at Lane Stadium in the season opener for both teams.

The shutout marked the first for Tech in a season opener since the Hokies blanked Marshall 7-0 in 1953. But nearly every single one of the 51,907 Tech fans left the Hokies' game with an uneasy feeling in their stomachs after redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Vick, in his first collegiate game, saw his debut come to an abrupt end.

Vick, who dazzled fans for roughly 23 minutes, suffered a contusion in his lower left leg on one of the most acrobat plays ever witnessed at Lane Stadium. With Tech leading 17-0 and facing a third-and-6 situation on the JMU 7, he scrambled up the middle and dove for the end zone. While in the air, Vick got hit by two JMU defenders, flipped over and landed awkwardly with his legs pinned underneath him in the end zone.

Vick left the game and never returned. Fortunately, X-rays on his leg came out negative.

"I'm alright. I just came down the wrong way," Vick said. "I was about four yards away from the end zone. I don't know what made me jump. Two guys hit me and I thought I was coming down on my head.

"I couldn't believe it. I was scared to look down at my leg. It brought a big smile to my face when we took the X-rays and they were negative."

Vick himself brought smiles to everyone's faces early, wasting little time in making his presence felt. Using his legs and his arm, he marched the Hokies down the field on their second possession.

Facing a third-and-9 from the Tech 21, Vick found a wide-open Andre Davis for a 43-yard gain. Three plays later, Vick scored Tech's first touchdown of the season, taking it in from three yards out with 7:01 left in the first quarter to give Tech the early 7-0 lead.

"After the first possession I think I had some jitters," Vick said. "I got comfortable after that and things just started to click."

Vick then gave Tech a 14-0 lead just a few minutes later. Taking advantage of an Anthony Midget interception, which gave the Hokies great field position at their own 42, Vick took a quarterback draw 54 yards up the middle into the end zone.

For the day, Vick completed four of six pass attempts for 110 yards and he rushed for 54 yards on four carries three of those going for touchdowns. In fact, he became the first Tech freshman to rush for three touchdowns in a game since Tommy Edwards turned the trick against Pittsburgh in 1993.

But his day ended with the 7-yard touchdown run in which he got injured while giving Tech a 24-0 lead.

"You've got to play the game," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "There's certain times when you have to go for it and sometimes you don't. I think you saw that it's in his nature to go for it."

By the time Vick left the game, the Hokies really didn't need him. Tech fell into a lull for the rest of the half, notching just one first down the final seven minutes "There was a lot of concern," receiver Ricky Hall said. "I think everyone was in shock." but the Hokies rallied behind the steady play of reserve quarterback Dave Meyer, the running of tailback Shyrone Stith and the stingy play of Tech's dominating defense.

Led by All-American end Corey Moore who recorded a sack and two tackles for a loss, including a safety Tech's defense held the Dukes to just 210 yards of total offense. The Hokies also recorded six sacks, forced two fumbles and intercepted a pass.

Seventy-eight of the Dukes yards came on a run by Curtis Keaton early in the first quarter. That run put JMU at the Tech 16.

But two sacks and two penalties left the Dukes facing a third-and-50 and JMU never came close to sniffing the end zone the rest of the game.

"I'm disappointed," Moore said. "I thought at times we stepped down to their level. I really felt like we should have come in and dominated them a lot more than we did."

With Moore and company taking care of the defense, Meyer and Stith, who rushed for 122 yards, took care of the offense. In the second half, Meyer led the Hokies on scoring drives of 86, 38 and 39 yards. A 24-yard pass to fullback Jarrett Ferguson set up a 22-yard touchdown run on a reverse by Davis to give Tech a 33-0 lead.

On Tech's next possession, Meyer converted a third-down and a fourth-down conversion, which led to his own 2-yard touchdown run. Tech's final score came on a 2-yard run by André Kendrick.

"Dave was thrown into the fire and played like a veteran," Hall said. "He's been around, so he knows how to handle things. He played well."

"I wasn't nervous," Meyer said. "I didn't feel shaky.

"Coach [Rickey] Bustle said we had to sustain some drives with Mike out. We had some drives and were able to move the ball and our offensive line showed what it could do."

Meyer's play alleviated some concerns with Vick's status up in the air. But Vick said he'll be ready.

"If I have to go to treatment three times a day, I'll be there against UAB," he said.