Tech shuts out Western Michigan
By Jimmy Robertson
September 8, 2001

So much for Western Michigan being the Hokies toughest non-conference test.

What was thought to be a stern test for Tech turned out to be a laugher as the Hokies shut out Western Michigan 31-0 in front of 53,662 fans at Lane Stadium. With the win, Tech improved to 2-0 on the season, while Western Michigan fell to 1-1.

The win marked Tech's 14th consecutive victory at Lane Stadium, breaking the old record of 13 set in 1979-81.

"I thought we did a good job," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "I give a lot of credit to our defense. I thought they played great. Offensively, we've still got some things to work on, but we did a lot of things well."

Tech's defense, a tad sluggish against UConn, dominated this one from the start. The Hokies held the Broncos to just 166 yards of total offense and 1-of-13 on third-down conversions. WMU quarterback Jeff Welsh, coming off a 330-yard, five-touchdown performance, completed just 12 of 25 passes for 100 yards and one interception.

The Hokies struck first in the battle with the Broncos and the score came courtesy of the Hokies' special teams. Wayne Ward, Tech's special teams demon, knifed in and blocked the punt of WMU freshman punter Ryan Anderson late in the first quarter. The Hokies' recovered the block and took over at the Western Michigan 16. Two plays later, tailback Keith Burnell scored from 11 yards out and the extra point gave the Hokies a 7-0 lead.

The Hokies added to that lead early in the second quarter. Kevin McCadam's first career interception led to a 20-yard field goal by Carter Warley to give the Hokies a 10-0 lead.

Tech then started pulling away. Right before halftime, a 46-yard march ended when quarterback Grant Noel scored on a 1-yard plunge with 6:35 left. The extra point gave the Hokies a 17-0 lead and that was the score at halftime.

"I thought we played alright," Noel said. "I think we can play better and we still put 31 points on the board. But I'm never going to be satisfied. We need to get a few things worked out and we've got two weeks to get it done."

Tech picked up in the second half where it left off in the first half. A Western Michigan punt left the Hokies buried inside their own 2. But Tech methodically drove down the field behind its powerful offensive line. The Hokies drove 98 yards in 10 plays - nine of them rushing- and the drive finished when fullback Jarrett Ferguson rumbled in from 24 yards out. The extra point gave the Hokies a 24-0 lead with 5:31 left in the third quarter.

On their next possession, Tech once again went to work on the ground. A 29-yard run by Kevin Jones and a personal foul penalty on Western Michigan left the Hokies at the WMU 21. Two plays later, Noel completed a shuffle pass to Doug Easlick, who went the distance for a 22-yard scoring play. That gave the Hokies a commanding 31-0 lead.

Noel completed 13 of 25 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown in a little over three quarters. As a team, Tech rushed for 271 yards and threw for 156. Jones led Tech's rushing attack with 75 yards rushing, while Burnell rushed for 74 and a score.

Tech has off next weekend. The Hokies travel to Rutgers for their BIG EAST opener on Aug. 22.