Tech Defeats Miami For The Fifth Straight Time
Hokies blow Hurricanes out of Blacksburg in Big East rout.
November 13, 1999

by Jimmy Robertson
Editor, Hokie Huddler

There was a major battle between two heavyweights this past Saturday night.

Only it wasn't between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. It wasn't on HBO. And it wasn't held in Las Vegas.

In the Big East's main event, Virginia Tech landed an assortment of punches to score 43 unanswered points and knock out Miami 43-10 in front of 53,130 fans at Lane Stadium and millions of others watching on ESPN.

With the win, Tech improved to 9-0 (5-0 in the Big East) for the first time in school history and took sole possession of first place in the conference. A win over Temple on Nov. 20 places the Hokies in the Bowl Championship Series as the Big East champion.

In addition, Tech kept alive its hopes of playing for the national title in the Sugar Bowl. That road became more of a reality when Arkansas knocked off Tennessee earlier in the day. Tennessee went into that game ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings, with Tech at No. 3.

"Once we saw Tennessee lost, we knew we controlled our own destiny," said Tech quarterback Michael Vick, who threw for 151 yards and rushed for 46 against the 'Canes. "It made us want it a little more."

Tech's win marked its fifth consecutive victory over Miami, who fell to 5-4, 3-1 in the Big East. It also marked Miami's worst loss since a 66-13 defeat to Syracuse in the final game of last season.

"They're almost back," said Tech defensive end Corey Moore, who recorded two sacks and forced a game-turning fumble. "But not quite.

"They've got a very talented team and they're still searching. They're having problems finding ways to win. They've had some games where they were down and they came back. We felt like if we got up on them early, which we didn't do, that they would lay down. But we got better in the third quarter and then we were able to put them away."

The Hokies needed the help of two mighty blows to put the 'Canes down for the count. Those two shots came within 24 seconds of each other in the fourth quarter.

Tech punt returner Ricky Hall chastised by many Hokie fans for failing to field a punt the previous week against West Virginia earned some redemption by taking an Andy Crosland punt 64 yards for a touchdown. The extra point gave Tech a 27-10 lead with 13:39 left in the game.

"I thought they weren't giving as great an effort as they had been after that," Moore said. "We felt that and wanted to put the glove on them."

Then, 24 seconds later, Miami tailback Clinton Portis, who rushed for 139 yards on 27 carries, was stripped of the ball from behind by Moore. Tech cornerback Ike Charlton picked up the loose ball and sprinted 51 yards untouched for the touchdown.

It was all over but the ringing of the bell after that score. Much like they did against Syracuse, Tech went for the kill, scoring 23 points in the final 15 minutes.

Portis' fumble was one of two for him and one of six turnovers for Miami on the night. Tech cornerback Anthony Midget tied a school record by intercepting three passes. And in all, Tech scored 24 points off Miami's turnovers.

"Ironically, we had turnovers on sacks and turnovers on runs downfield where we clearly made some yards," Miami coach Butch Davis said. "They did a great job of coaching their kids about when they're chasing from behind to try and punch the ball out, to try and strip the ball. And they were successful doing it a couple of times tonight."

It looked like it was going to be the 'Canes night early. Miami quarterback Kenny Kelly found receiver Reggie Wayne for a 51-yard pass play on the 'Canes first play from scrimmage to give Miami a first down at the Tech 13. But the Hokies held on the next three plays and Miami settled for a 28-yard field goal by Crosland to take a 3-0 lead with 11:44 left in the first quarter.

The 'Canes, though, got in the end zone just a few minutes later. Taking advantage of a fumble by Vick, Miami went 49 yards in five plays. Kelly polished off the drive, hitting receiver Andre King for a 7-yard scoring pass. The extra point gave Miami a 10-0 lead with 4:35 left in the first quarter.

But it was all Tech after that. Late in the first quarter, Portis fumbled at the Miami 35 and Charlton returned it to the Miami 24. A personal foul penalty on the 'Canes gave the Hokies the ball at the Miami 12.

The 'Canes ended up stopping the Hokies on three straight running plays from the 1. But Miami shot itself in the foot, committing a personal foul after the play. That gave Tech a first down and tailback Shyrone Stith scored from a yard out on the next play. The extra point cut the Miami lead to 10-7 with 17 seconds left in the first quarter.

Tech then took the lead thanks to another Miami turnover. Midget picked off a poorly thrown pass by Kelly midway through the second quarter, giving the Hokies the ball at the Miami 42.

Two plays later thanks to great blocks by fullback Jarrett Ferguson, tight end Bob Slowikowski and center Keith Short Stith sprinted 41 yards for the score. The extra point gave Tech a 14-10 lead with 7:08 left in the first half.

"Once we got down in the first quarter, no one got down," Vick said. "We showed that we believed in ourselves and could move the ball down the field. It just showed great character by our team."

In the second half, Tech's defense returned to form. Delivering blow after blow putting Kelly out of the game on a couple of occasions Tech's defense held the 'Canes to just 98 total yards in the final 30 minutes.

"I thought it was a really great performance by our football team," Beamer said. "We got down by 10 and our guys hang in there and come back and we get some really big plays. Miami's a really good football team, but I felt like we didn't take advantage of all our opportunities. But we took advantage of enough of them."

Indeed. Enough to punch out the 'Canes for the fifth straight time.