Tech Wins #5, 58-20
Hokies lack knightly behavior in Big East road beating of Rutgers.
October 9, 1999

by Jimmy Robertson
Editor, Hokie Huddler

For Tech, the fairy tale season continues.

And for Tech fans, the Hokies' play against Rutgers was beauty. For the Scarlet Knights, it was a beast.

Led by the princely play of quarterback Michael Vick, the Hokies scored touchdowns on seven of their eight first-half possessions en route to an easy 58-20 Big East road win over the Scarlet Knights in front 30,764 fans at Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway, N.J.

How bad did this one get? Word filtered through the press box that Rutgers' officials were thinking about naming Vick the Homecoming king. He certainly held court at Rutgers Stadium.

Vick, showing no ill effects of a sore ankle re-injured at UVa the previous week, racked up a game's worth of yardage in the first half. He completed 11 of 12 passes for 248 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown, accounting for 316 of Tech's 420 yards of total offense in the first half.

"He's playing well," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "I've said many times that all he needs are snaps and he'll get better every time. And I think that's what's happening.

"He's very talented and now he's getting some experience. That's a good combination for that guy."

Vick completed touchdown passes of 74, 13, 36 and 5 yards, tying a school record for touchdown passes in a game. He also became the first quarterback in school history to throw four touchdown passes in a half and the first to account for five in a game. He now has five touchdown passes in the past two games three of those going to André Davis with no interceptions.

"I'm not trying to do it all myself," Vick said. "I'm just playing it slowly, reading defenses and being smart. I'm making smart decisions. If I do that week in and week out, I'll get better.

"I've got a great deal of confidence now. I'm relaxed and making better decisions."

And he wasted little time in getting started in this one. On the game's first play, he hit receiver Andre Davis on a 74-yard scoring strike for a quick 7-0 lead. The play, which resembled the 60-yard scoring strike to Davis a week ago in the first quarter against the Wahoos, marked the first time in head coach Frank Beamer's tenure that the Hokies have scored on the first play of the game.

"I think any time you've got Michael Vick throwing it and Andre Davis running down the field as fast as he can, you've got a chance," Beamer said. "We were hoping we could run by their secondary."

But Rutgers actually made a game of this early and it answered against the nation's No. 1-ranked defense. On the Scarlet Knights' ensuing possession, they marched down the field, thanks in large part to a 27-yard pass play from quarterback Mike McMahon to tight end L.J. Smith, which got Rutgers to the Tech 28.

McMahon then took care of things from there. Five plays later, he kept the ball on the option and scampered 12 yards into the end zone as Rutgers tied the game with 10:27 left in the first quarter.

Tech, though, quickly regained the lead. Behind the tough running of tailback Shyrone Stith and fullback Jarrett Ferguson, Tech marched 70 yards in eight plays. Ferguson polished the drive off with a 20-yard run to give Tech a 14-7 lead with 6:35 left in the first quarter.

But Rutgers again answered, taking just four plays to go 81 yards. McMahon hit Smith for a 36-yard scoring play with 5:22 left in the first quarter to tie the game at 14.

"We came out flat," Tech rover Cory Bird said. "We were all chilled before the game and I don't think we warmed up the way we should have. And like I said earlier this week, Rutgers is a capable team. Their record doesn't reflect the way that they've played."

Reality, though, set in for the Scarlet Knights as Tech's talent started taking over. Behind Vick, the Hokies regained the lead in the second quarter. A 32-yard pass from Vick to Davis put Tech at the Rutgers 18, and then three plays later, Vick found Davis again, this time for a 13-yard score with 12:07 left in the half. Tech led 21-14.

Tech added to its lead on its next possession. Thanks to a poor quick kick by McMahon, the Hokies took over at the Rutgers 36. Stith finished off a nine-play drive with a 2-yard scoring run with 7:39 left in the half to give the Hokies a 14-point lead.

The Hokies then put Rutgers away with three touchdowns in the final four minutes all thanks to Vick. He hit Ricky Hall for a 36-yard scoring play with 3:39 left, ran 22 yards for a score with 1:40 left and hit Hall again, this time for a 5-yard scoring play as Tech took a 35-point lead into the locker room at halftime.

"In the second quarter, I thought I was in a zone," Vick said. "I just kept doing the things I was doing last week [against UVa]. I didn't let it blow my head up big. I just tried to stay poised."

Tech's lead enabled Beamer to sit Vick for the entire second half and yet things still didn't get better for the Scarlet Knights. Beamer emptied his bench and the reserves did the damage. André Kendrick's 10-yard run on Tech's second possession of the second half gave Tech a 56-14 lead.

Rutgers lone score in the second half came late in the game on an 11-yard run by Seth Stanton. But even that came with a price. The Hokies blocked the extra point their first blocked kick of the season and Ronyell Whitaker returned it the distance for two points for the Hokies.

"I'm proud of our football team," Beamer said. "I think when you're coming off a couple of emotional games, particularly an emotional game last week [against UVa], the next game gets real tough.

"We ended up playing good, particularly offensively. Our offense seems to be getting better quickly and that's a great sign for Tech fans."