Hokies Win 45-28 Over ECU
Special Teams and Defense Set the Tone Early
September 8, 2000

By Jimmy Robertson - Editor hokiesports.com-the newspaper

Virginia Tech, ranked ninth in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and 10th in the Associated Press poll, used its stellar special teams and a stingy defense to jump out to a 31-0 halftime lead and never look back. The Hokies knocked off East Carolina 45-28 in front of more than 45,000 fans at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C.

With the win, Tech (2-0) beat the Pirates (1-1) for the fifth straight time.

"I'm proud of our team," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "We played a great team and we were able to do some things early to take control of the game. We were able to make some plays on special teams and that kinda set the tone."

Tech's special teams scored two touchdowns and led to another as the Hokies jumped all over the Pirates from the start. Tech swarmed ECU punter Wes Herlocker, who bobbled a snap, on the Pirates' possession early in the first quarter, and that led to a 46-yard field goal by kicker Carter Warley for a 3-0 lead.

Tech's next score came courtesy of special teams once again. The Hokies' Pride and Joy group made its presence felt for the first time this season as Wayne Ward blocked a Herlocker punt. Cory Bird picked it up and ran nine yards for the score to give Tech a 10-0 lead.

Later in the first quarter, Chad Beasley intercepted a David Garrard pass and returned it to the ECU 17. Two plays later, André Kendrick scored from 14 yards out to give the Hokies a 17-0 lead. Tech later took a 24-0 on a seven-yard scoring run by fullback Jarrett Ferguson.

Then, Tech's special teams came into play. With 9:15 left in the half, André Davis returned a punt 87 yards for a touchdown. That marked the second-longest punt return in school history and gave Tech a 31-0 lead.

"Usually, when you get two good teams playing, it comes down to the kicking game," Beamer said. "I thought that's what happened."

Tech thwarted ECU's best scoring chance of the half when Larry Austin blocked a field-goal attempt by Keith Miller. Tech's defense held the Pirates scoreless in the first half and allowed just 132 yards of total offense.

ECU scored on its first two possessions of the second half behind two touchdown passes from Garrard. The redshirt junior completed 22-of-38 for 296 yards and two touchdowns. But he also threw three interceptions.

With the lead 31-14, Tech put the game out of reach. With 3:11 left in the third quarter, tailback Lee Suggs went 56 yards for a touchdown. Suggs finished the game with 122 yards on 11 carries. Early in the fourth quarter, quarterback Michael Vick found tight end Browning Wynn for a 23-yard scoring strike to make it 45-14. ECU scored two touchdowns late to account for the final margin.

"I have to give our offense some credit too," Beamer said. "When we needed some plays, we got them. We were able to answer them in the third quarter and that kept the crowd from getting into it."

Vick didn't play up to his usual standards, completing 9-of-15 for 106 yards and rushing for just 13 on the night. But he made enough plays to keep Tech's offense from stalling. The Hokies finished with 311 total yards of offense, including more than 200 on the ground.

Tech begins conference play Sept. 16 when Rutgers comes to Lane Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.