Fuller's two picks help third-ranked Hokies get past Owls
By Jimmy Robertson
October 26, 2002

Post Game Notes Temple Owls
at #3 Virginia Tech Hokies
Saturday, Oct. 26, 2002
Lane Stadium/Worsham Field - Blacksburg, Va.
Virginia Tech has started the season with eight wins for just the third time in school history. The Hokies also won their first eight games of the season in 1999 and 2000.

Tech is now 27-7 in football games against teams from the state of Pennsylvania. Tech now leads its series with Temple 13-3.

Tech's defense held the Temple offense to 39 yards rushing. The Hokies have held each of its eight opponents this season to less than 85 yards on the ground.

With his touchdown on the first series of the game, tailback Lee Suggs has now scored a touchdown in 21 straight games in which he has played. With 47 yards today, Suggs now has 2,270 and moved by Tony Kennedy (1989-92) into 10th place in career rushing at Tech. He needs 23 yards to pass Shyrone Stith (2,292) for ninth on the list and 58 yards to pass Vaughn Hebron (2,327) for eighth place.

Lee Suggs' 30-yard reception in the third quarter that set up Nic Schmitt's second field goal of the game was the longest catch of his Tech career. It was the longest reception by a Tech tailback since 1997 when Lamont Pegues caught a 47-yard pass against Virginia (Nov. 29, 1997).

Nic Schmitt's 21-yard field goal in the second quarter was his first collegiate make. The true freshman missed his two previous attempts earlier this year. He is now 2-for-5 overall.

Vincent Fuller's interception in the first quarter marked the third straight game the sophomore has had a pick. He later got one in the fourth quarter, giving him a team-leading four.

All four of Vincent Fuller's interceptions have come inside Tech's 30-yard line. He stopped a Boston College drive on the 1-yard line, a Rutgers' drive on the 26-yard line, and Temple drives on the 8-yard line and in the end zone.

Richard Johnson's four catches marked a career high. He caught two passes against Western Michigan this year and Connecticut a year ago. He finished with 40 yards receiving against the Owls, also a career-best.

Doug Easlick's 32-yard touchdown catch at the end of the third quarter was his first TD reception of the season and the longest of his Tech career.

Tech committed a season-high four turnovers and has now turned the ball over seven times in its last seven quarters. Tech committed a total of just five turnovers in its first six games of the 2002 season. The Hokies' four turnovers are the most in a single game since their loss to Miami last season when they had five.

Injury updates: The following players were injured during today's game and will be re-evaluated Sunday:
Jordan Trott - left calf contusion
Anthony Davis - left mild hamstring strain
Jimmy Martin - lower back strain

Here is the updated status of those players who missed the Temple game:
Carter Warley - lower back - out for Pittsburgh
Vegas Robinson - ankle - out for Pittsburgh
Jimmy E. Williams - ankle - probable for Pittsburgh
Mike Imoh - ankle - questionable for Pittsburgh

Complete stats from the game
 
Tech's defense, thanks to two interceptions by Vinnie Fuller which ended Temple scoring threats, held the Owls to 269 yards (39 rushing) and just 10 points as the third-ranked Hokies put away the Owls 20-10 in front of 64,937 fans in a BIG EAST game at Lane Stadium.

The win, Tech's 10th over the Owls in the past 11 meetings, kept the Hokies perfect on the season at 8-0, 3-0 in the BIG EAST. Temple is now 3-5, 1-2 in the league.

Tech struggled against the Owls in large part because of a season-high four turnovers - three by quarterback Bryan Randall - and because of its inability to run the ball consistently. The Hokies finished with 199 yards against the nation's No. 12 rush defense coming into the game, but their longest run from scrimmage was just 10 yards and neither Lee Suggs nor Kevin Jones eclipsed the 100-yard mark. Jones led the Hokies with 72 yards on 17 carries, while Suggs finished with 47 yards on 19 carries.

Tech took a quick 7-0 lead on Suggs' 4-yard run on the Hokies' first possession of the game. The touchdown marked the 21st straight game in which Suggs has scored at least one touchdown.

But after that, the Hokies turned the ball over on three of their next four possessions. Jones fumbled on his first carry of the game, giving Temple possession at the Tech 32. But fortunately for the Hokies, Fuller's interception put an end to that Temple scoring threat.

Then Randall turned it over twice. He threw an interception near the end of the first quarter gave the Owls possession inside the Tech 40, but again, Tech's defense again held after that one. And Randall's fumble midway through the second quarter, with the Hokies driving, gave Temple the ball at the Tech 37 and killed a Tech scoring threat.

"It's a lack of focus," said Randall, who completed 13-of-20 for 146 yards, with two interceptions and one score. "When those things happen, you just try to bounce back. When they keep happening over and over, then you've got problems. You've got to keep those things to a minimum because they can hurt you."

Trailing 10-0, Temple finally got on the board early in the third quarter. A 58-yard pass play from quarterback Mike McGann to Sean Dillard got the Owls to the Tech 24 and Temple ended up settling for a 36-yard field goal by Cap Poklemba with 8:51 left in the third quarter to cut the Tech lead to 10-3.

But the Hokies answered near the end of the third quarter. A DeAngelo Hall interception gave the Hokies great field position in Temple territory, and on the final play of the quarter, Randall hit fullback Doug Easlick down the middle of the field for a 32-yard touchdown pass. Nic Schmitt's extra point gave the Hokies a 17-3 lead.

Schmitt later connected on a 22-yard field goal to give the Hokies a 20-3 lead. Temple tried to answer, driving as far as the Tech 5 on its next possession. But on second-and-goal, Fuller picked off a McGann pass for his second interception of the day. The game marked the third straight in which Fuller has picked off at least one pass.

"That interception, I wish I could put that on Willie Pile's list," Fuller said. "He's like having an extra coach on the field. He told me they were going to run a corner route and that's exactly what they did. We were playing man-to-man and I played off my man and I had an opportunity to see the ball in the air and go get it."

Randall's second interception of the day came with 3:31 left in the game and led to Temple's only touchdown - a 13-yard pass from McGann to Sean Szarka with 1:48 remaining. The Hokies recovered the ensuing onsides kick and ran out the clock to end the game.

"I think the bottom line is making sure you win a football game and I think we've got a team that has done that," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "We haven't played as well as we need to play and every single one of us knows that, but we've been able to win football games and make plays when it counts. To me, that's what it's all about."

The Hokies now get ready to take on Pittsburgh when the Panthers visit Lane Stadium next Saturday for another key BIG EAST battle. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be shown on ESPN2.