Vick, Hokies Run Past Temple 62-7
Tech knocks Owls off perch to clinch share of Big East title and BCS berth.
November 20, 1999

by Jimmy Robertson
Editor, Hokie Huddler

If the phone service in the New River Valley was out for a while this past Sunday, residents can pretty much guess what the problem is.

It's Tech fans calling area travel agencies to make their New Year's millennium travel plans.

The Hokies, shaking off the doldrums and sluggishness of an early start, clinched a share of the Big East title and a berth in the Bowl Championship Series by disconnecting Temple 62-7 in front of 25,822 fans at Veterans Stadium.

Tech now hopes it's wired in for the national title game in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4 against Florida State, a 30-23 winner over rival Florida. But to clinch the Big East title outright and head for the Sugar Bowl, the Hokies must dispatch of Boston College in the final game of the regular season.

And that's why the Hokies (10-0, 6-0) celebrated very little after beating the Owls (2-8, 2-4).

There was no chest-bumping, no jumping up and down, no wild celebrations, no dancing on the threadbare carpet of Veterans Stadium.

For the Hokies, it was simply win No. 10.

"In a way, it didn't seem like we won it [the Big East]," said Tech cornerback Larry Austin, who aided the Hokies' cause by returning an interception 31 yards for a touchdown. "Because everybody knows what we have going. We have one more game. It was like ╬We won. OK, let's get ready for Boston College.' That's how it was. Everyone knows what's ahead."

Beamer agreed.

"We've accomplished a lot, but there's a lot yet to go," Beamer said. "I'm proud of our guys. I don't know if you all understand the pressure. It's good pressure. But the more you win, the more pressure there is to win that next one.

"But our coaches handle it well and our players handle it well. And that's not an easy thing."

Certainly not as easy as a win over Temple. Using two long touchdown runs and two touchdown passes from quarterback Michael Vick, the Hokies avenged last season's 28-24 embarrassment at the hands of the Owls in a huge way. Temple stunned the Hokies on Homecoming at Lane Stadium in one of the biggest upsets in college football history.

Yet the Hokies shunned talk about last season's game. In keeping consistent with their approach for every game, they only talked about "No. 10."

"That's the one thing that surprised me," center Keith Short said. "The coaches got it into our heads that we weren't going to talk about revenge. It was our 10th game and that's all it was. We weren't thinking about revenge. This was the next game on our schedule and we were going to come out and play our hardest."

But in this high noon battle ¸ the earliest kickoff for a Tech game this season ¸ the Hokies got a sharp jolt from the alarm clock when Temple quarterback Devin Scott completed a 62-yard pass play to Jamal Wallace on the game's third play from scrimmage. The reception gave Temple a first down at the Tech 15, and five plays later, tailback Marcus Godfrey scored on a 2-yard run. The extra point gave Temple a 7-0 lead just four minutes into the game.

"We knew we couldn't get down," Tech cornerback Ike Charlton said. "We just had to get after them and that's what we did."

Ironically, that touchdown marked the beginning of the end for the Owls because it served to wake up the Hokies. The Owls reached Tech territory just once the rest of the game and recorded just 144 yards of total offense in the final 55 minutes.

And Tech's offense got untracked against a defense allowing 378 yards of total offense per game going into the game.

Tech, which ultimately scored 62 unanswered points, answered Temple's score on its first possession of the game. On the second play of the drive, Vick went back to pass, found no one and took off scrambling. Fifty-three yards later ¸ thanks to a great block from tight end Derek Carter ¸ Vick walked into the end zone. Shayne Graham's extra point tied the game at 7.

That was the first of two touchdown runs for Vick. In the third quarter, he scampered 75 yards for a touchdown and the redshirt freshman finished the game with 134 yards rushing on just 12 carries.

"We knew we had to come out and put points on the board," Vick said. "They're not the only team that can score touchdowns. We know we can put points on the board, so we didn't worry about that. We just had to come out and make plays and that's what we did."

Tech took the lead for good when Graham connected on a 29-yard field goal near the end of the first quarter to give Tech a 10-7 lead and then the Hokies broke it open thanks to a flurry of big plays.

First, Austin picked off a Scott pass and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown ¸ the first interception and first touchdown of his collegiate career. That gave the Hokies a 17-7 lead.

Then late in the first half, Vick found receiver André Davis along the sideline and Davis broke a tackle and sprinted 65 yards for a touchdown. Graham's extra point gave Tech a 24-7 lead and his field goal to end the half enabled the Hokies to take a 20-point lead at halftime.

And the score could have been worse. Tech turned the ball over two times in the first half ¸ both on Vick interceptions and both coming inside the Temple 10. And the Hokies also gave the ball up on downs once at the Temple 6 despite needing just a yard for the first down.

"We didn't really get frustrated," Vick said. "I know I didn't get frustrated. We had a lot of confidence. We knew we couldn't get down because that would only hurt us."

The second half turned into a Tech highlight show, scoring on four straight possessions at one point. The Hokies took a 34-7 lead on Vick's 75-yard dash and then Davis caught his second touchdown pass of the day, a 30-yarder to give the Hokies a 41-7 lead. Davis finished with four catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

Reserve tailback André Kendrick's 20-yard scoring run at the end of the third quarter marked the end of the day for Vick as he and most of the regulars sat out the fourth quarter. Kendrick later scored on a 3-yard run and third-team tailback Lee Suggs tallied a 2-yard touchdown run to account for the Hokies' scoring.

Now the season and all the hard work over the spring and summer comes down to one game. One game stands between the Hokies and perfection.

"We know there's something bigger," Tech linebacker Ben Taylor said. "Next week, we're playing for that national championship. It's one of those where you know you've won the Big East, but you want to take that next step."