Tech defense lifts Hokies past 14th-ranked LSU
By Jimmy Robertson
September 1, 2002

Post Game Notes LSU vs. Virginia Tech
Sunday, September 1, 2002
Lane Stadium/Worsham Field - Blacksburg, Va. Today's victory over No. 14 LSU marks the highest ranked opponent in the Associated Press poll that Tech has defeated since beating No. 9 Texas, 28-10, in the 1995 Sugar Bowl (12/31/95). The Tigers are the highest ranked opponent Tech has ever defeated at Lane Stadium/Worsham Field. The last time Tech defeated a higher ranked team in Blacksburg, Va., was during the 1964 season when the Hokies downed No. 10-ranked Florida State, 20-11 (10/24/64). That game was played in Miles Stadium.

This afternoon's match-up between Virginia Tech and LSU was the first time the two teams played. With the victory, Tech improves to 11-5 under head coach Frank Beamer when facing an opponent for the first time.

Today's official attendance was recorded at 65,049. That mark sets a new Virginia state record for the largest attendance at a college football game. The previous mark was set during 2001 season when Virginia Tech and Virginia played in Charlottesville, Va. Tech has now won 18 of its last 20 games at Lane Stadium/Worsham Field.

Tech has not allowed any points in the first half of play this season. The Hokies have outscored their opponents, 70-0, in their first two games this season.

Sophomore quarterback Bryan Randall entered the game with 6:10 remaining in the first quarter, replacing starting quarterback Grant Noel and remained in the game for the rest of the way.

Redshirt-sophomore Jason Lallis and redshirt-freshman Justin Hamilton each blocked an LSU punt. Hamilton's block in the second quarter led to Tech's second touchdown of the game. Lallis' blocked punt came with five seconds left in the game and resulted in a safety. Under Coach Beamer's direction, Tech has now blocked 92 kicks in 176 games (48 punts, 23 FGs, 21 PATs).

With two blocked kicks today, it marks the 17th time under Coach Beamer that the Hokies' special teams unit has blocked two kicks in a game. The last time came during the 2001 season against No. 1-ranked Miami (12/1/01).

Senior running back Lee Suggs finished the game with 91 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns. With today's performance, Suggs now has 1,620 career rushing yards ranking him 16th among Tech's all-time career rushing leaders. He surpassed Tommy Francisco (1964-69) and Sonny Utz (1962-64) in today's game. Next up on the list is Bob Schweickert (1962-64), who finished his career with 1,723 yards.

With his two touchdowns, Suggs now has 210 career points ranking fifth on Tech's career scoring list. The only four players to accumulate more points as a Hokie are place-kickers. Next up on the list is Don Wade (1981-84), a place-kicker who finished his career with 224 points. Suggs has scored at least one touchdown in each of the last 15 games in which he has played.

In today's game, Tech only had 14 pass attempts, its lowest total since the Hokies attempted only eight passes against Central Florida (11/11/00). Virginia Tech's 231 yards of total offense against LSU ranks as the lowest total in a victory since a 27-7 win over Pittsburgh during the 1999 season in which Tech gained just 206 yards of total offense.

Virginia Tech punter Vinnie Burns, a New Orleans, La,, native, recorded a career day against LSU. On nine punts, Burns finished with a personal-best, 44.7 yards per kick, with a long of 58 yards. Burns pinned the Tigers inside the 20 four times and had four punts for 50-plus yards.

Tech defensive end Jim Davis had a career-best three sacks as Tech's defense allowed LSU to gain only 214 total offensive yards.

Using terrific defense, making big plays on special teams and getting a methodical output from the offense, the 16th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies knocked off 14th-ranked LSU 26-8 in front 65,049 fans at Lane Stadium on Sunday afternoon - the largest crowd to witness a football game in the state of Virginia.

With the win, Tech improved to 2-0 on the season. LSU (0-1) marked the highest-ranked opponent the Hokies ever have beaten at Lane Stadium. Syracuse was ranked 16th in 1999 when the Hokies whipped the Orangemen 62-0, marking the previous highest-ranked opponent to leave Blacksburg with a loss. It also marked Tech head coach Frank Beamer's fourth win over a top-15 team - but his first at Lane.

Tech's defense was the main story of the game, holding LSU to just 214 yards of total offense and to an amazing 1-of-13 on third downs. LSU only drove into Tech territory three times and the Tigers' lone score came on a 1-yard run by LaBrandon Toefield with 10 minutes to go in the game.

"I've said before I thought the first-unit was the fastest group we've had here and that's saying something because we've had some fast guys," Beamer said. "And they're starting to play fast.

"We wanted to stop the run and not let them run after the catch. And there wasn't much running after the catch. I thought the defense played great."

LSU quarterback Matt Mauck completed just 15-of-35 for 134 yards and one interception. His longest completion went for 17 yards.

On offense, Tech got two touchdown runs from Lee Suggs and one from Kevin Jones. Jones, who rushed for 70 yards on 14 carries, put Tech on the board with a 2-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter to give the Hokies a 7-0 lead.

Early in the second quarter, Suggs got in the act, thanks to a blocked punt by the Hokies' Justin Hamilton, which put Tech in great field position. Suggs scored on a 6-yard with 12:58 left in the first half to put Tech up 14-0.

Hamilton's block was the first of two on the day for the Hokies. Jason Lallis blocked one near the end of the game that went out of the end zone for a safety.

"Mental errors, penalties and mistakes killed us," LSU coach Nick Saban said. "We return a punt for a touchdown and get called for an illegal block, which was a legitimate call. We have good field position in the game and turn the ball over, giving them good field position. Get a punt blocked and give them another scoring opportunity.

"We made so many mistakes that we're probably fortunate because we could've gotten beat a lot worse."

In the second half, Carter Warley's 41-yard field goal in the third quarter gave the Hokies a 17-0 lead. Tech then put the game away on a 2-yard scoring run by Suggs early in the fourth quarter. Suggs finished with 91 yards on 22 carries.

The Hokies, though, may have a quarterback controversy. Beamer started Noel, but lifted him after two series in favor of Bryan Randall. The sophomore from Williamsburg, Va., played the remainder of the game, completing 5-of-9 for 47 yards. Noel completed 2-of-5 for 18 yards.

"We'll look at the film and I'll talk with our quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator," Beamer said. "Then we'll make a decision on it tomorrow [Monday]."

Tech has next weekend off. The Hokies will begin preparing for Marshall University, which comes to town for a Thursday night affair on Sept. 12. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.