Tech puts end to Carrier Dome hex
By Jimmy Robertson
October 22, 2000

For the first time in 14 years, Virginia Tech won at the Carrier Dome.

But it didn't come easily.

The No. 2-ranked team in the country used big plays by its defense to rally from a 14-point deficit and knock off the Syracuse Orangemen 22-14 in front of 49,033 fans at the raucous Carrier Dome.

The win marked Tech's first over the Orangemen at the Carrier Dome since beating them -17 in 1986 and Tech head coach Frank Beamer snapped an 0-for-5 skid at the Carrier Dome. More importantly, Tech stayed unbeaten, improving to 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the BIG EAST.

"This isn't about me," Beamer said. "This is about this team and how proud I am of them. There's something about this team. They always find a way to win. We didn't play well, but we played hard and we found a way to win."

Syracuse (3-4, 1-2) jumped out to a 14-0 lead thanks to two big pass plays from quarterback Troy Nunes. On Syracuse's first possession, Nunes hit receiver Malik Jackson for a 54-yard gain inside the Tech 10 on third-and-15. That led to a 9-yard touchdown run by tailback Dee Brown which gave the Orangemen a 7-0 lead.

The Orangemen extended that to 14-0 right before the end of the first quarter. Again, Nunes hit Jackson, this time for a 78-yard touchdown pass on third-and-15.

Tech cut the lead to 14-3 on a Carter Warley 47-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. But the Hokies gained momentum heading into the locker room after stopping Syracuse inside the Tech 30. Syracuse kicker Mike Shafer missed a 51-yard field goal as time expired, giving Tech the advantage.

Coming out of the locker room, Tech's defense took control. Midway through the third quarter, Nunes went back to pass on third down, but tripped over the foot of one of his offensive linemen. As he went down, he chucked the ball in the air and safety Willie Pile intercepted it. He returned the ball to the Syracuse 5, giving Tech a great scoring opportunity.

The Hokies capitalized. Tailback Lee Suggs took the pitch from quarterback Michael Vick and scored from 5 yards out. The Hokies went for two, but failed, making the score 14-9 with 6:24 left in the third quarter.

Then the Hokies got another break. On the second play of Syracuse's next possession, Nunes hit Jackson for a huge gain, but Jackson fumbled after getting popped by Tech cornerback Eric Green. Tech linebacker Jake Houseright scooped up the loose ball and returned it to the Syracuse 21.

Back in business once again, Tech responded. The Hokies capped the drive when Suggs took it in from the 1 to give Tech the lead with 2:49 left in the third quarter. Tech went for two again, but Vick's pass fell incomplete, making the score 15-14 in Tech's favor.

Syracuse tried to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Driving into Tech territory, the Orangemen faced a fourth-and-8. As Nunes went back to pass, he was hit by defensive end Jim Davis - who played fantastic on this night - and the ball fell incomplete.

Tech then put the game away. Vick scampered around the left side, picked up a great block by Ernest Wilford and 55 yards for the score with 1:34 to go.

Vick suffered a tough game on the Carrier Dome turf. He completed just 6-of-11 for 75 yards and rushed for just nine yards on 16 carries. He was sacked eight times.

Suggs, who finished with 91 yards on 21 carries, broke the Tech single-season record for rushing touchdowns and tied the single-season record for overall touchdowns. He now has 14 on the season. Reserve André Kendrick added 73 yards on eight carries as Tech amassed just 240 yard of total offense.

Tech's defense forced five turnovers, including four interceptions. The Hokies gave up just 328 yards of total offense.

The Hokies next play Pittsburgh in a BIG EAST game at Lane Stadium. The game, to be televised by CBS, is scheduled to kickoff at 3:30.