Tech Reclaims Commonwealth Cup With 31-7 Win Over UVa
Hokies' offense and defense join forces to wreck havoc in Charlottesville.
October 2, 1999

by Jimmy Robertson
Editor, Hokie Huddler

All summer, the University of Virginia has been doing construction on Scott Stadium.

On a beautiful October night, a wrecking crew from Virginia Tech did some demolishing on the field.

Thanks to the wrecking-ball arm of quarterback Michael Vick, Tech jumped out to a 21-point halftime lead and never trailed en route to a 31-7 hammering of Virginia in front of 51,800 fans at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville.

The win snapped Tech's two-game losing streak against UVa. It also marked the third Tech win in Charlottesville in the past four meetings between the two schools.

"I thought we won a tough game," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "And we played a great game. Not turning the ball over, making some throwing plays, making some catching plays, our defense hanging tough against a very good offense I'm really proud of what our football team did."

In addition to tearing up shop on the Scott Stadium turf, the Hokies also constructed a gem of a game themselves, playing their best game of the season and whipping UVa in virtually every statistical category.

But the main engineer of this project was Vick. The redshirt freshman, coming off a three-interception performance against Clemson, used his arm to drive the bulldozer that cleared the way for a Tech offense which jumped out to a 28-7 halftime lead and never looked back.

Vick completed seven of his nine pass attempts for 222 yards and one touchdown and also rushed for 40 yards on 10 carries. He did most of his damage in the first half, completing 6-of-7 for 203 yards and one touchdown, and three of his long throws set up Tech touchdowns for tailback Shyrone Stith.

"All I need is experience," Vick said. "Tonight, I settled down and relaxed. I didn't try to do it all by myself."

Could have fooled everyone watching.

On Tech's second possession of the game, Vick fired a beautiful strike to receiver André Davis, who burned UVa cornerback Tim Spruill. Vick nearly overthrew the ball, but Davis caught it and took it the distance for a 60-yard scoring strike. With the extra point, Tech led 7-0 early in the first quarter.

"It was a great throw by Michael," Davis said. "That's how I like them [that throw]. I like going after the ball instead of going up for the ball. I knew I had to get on my horse and get rolling."

"I thought that was huge," Beamer said. "It was a great throw and a great catch. That's what wins ball games like this.

"That set the tone. When it heated up, we needed someone to come out and make a play and that's what happened."

That score served as a foreshadowing of things to come because Vick went back to work two possessions later. On the first play of this drive, Vick found Ricky Hall for a 32-yard gain to the UVa 7. Three plays later, Stith took it in from a yard out, and with the extra point, the Hokies took a 14-0 lead with 2:21 left in the first quarter.

Early on, it looked liked the Hokies were going to run away with this one. But the Wahoos got it clicking on their ensuing drive. Quarterback Dan Ellis fired back-to-back completions to Demetrius Dotson for gains of 19 and 15 yards, respectively, into Tech territory.

The Cavaliers eventually drove to the Tech 1, where on fourth down, UVa coach George Welsh elected to go for it. Ellis faked a handoff to tailback Thomas Jones and then threw to a wide-open Billy Baber for the score. The extra point cut the lead to 14-7 with 12:04 left in the first half. Ellis completed all four of his pass attempts on the drive for 44 yards.

But the Hokies, once again behind Vick, answered. Vick found tight end Browning Wynn on the first play of the drive for a 14-yard gain to the Tech 34. Then four straight running plays left the Hokies facing a third-and-7 at the UVa 42.

Nothing to worry about, though. Vick kept the ball on the option for a 12-yard gain for a first down. Two plays later, he found Stith for a 25-yard gain to the UVa 2 and Stith later took it in from two yards out to give Tech a 21-7 lead with 7:09 left in the half.

"We were in disarray on defense," UVa coach George Welsh said. "We didn't stop anyone."

The Hokies added to that lead on their next possession. A 50-yard pass from Vick to Davis got the Hokies to the UVa 4, and two plays later, Stith scored his third touchdown of the half on a 2-yard run with 3:32 left in the half.

In a game that reminded many of last season's game one which Tech led 29-7 at halftime the Hokies took a 28-7 lead into the break this time.

"We knew we couldn't let down," said Stith, who rushed for 85 of his game-high 113 yards in the second half. "We wanted to keep pounding on them, and most importantly, take time off the clock, so our defense could be fresh."

"That's what we said," Beamer admitted. "And this football team didn't let what happened last year happen this year."

In the second half with Vick nursing a sore ankle the Hokies turned it over to their defense. And Tech's defense delivered.

The Hokies stymied UVa tailback Thomas Jones, holding him to just 24 yards rushing in the second half. By taking Jones out of the picture, Tech went after Ellis and ended up sacking him six times on the night. UVa entered Tech territory just twice in the second half and came up empty both times.

"I knew we were going to have to play really well to win," Welsh said. "That was obvious. I think we could have played better on defense. We didn't exactly execute very well. I think we made a lot of mistakes. Even our veterans did.

"They just came out and played harder than us. They're really wasn't a turning point. Every series we went out there, we didn't play hard and that really hurt us."