Offensive assault not enough to lift Tech past 'Cuse
By Jimmy Robertson
November 9, 2002

Post Game Notes #8 Virginia Tech Hokies
at Syracuse Orangemen
Saturday, Nov. 9, 2002
The Carrier Dome - Syracuse, N.Y.
Tech's 50-42, triple overtime loss at Syracuse marked just the second overtime game in Tech history. The Hokies defeated Miami, 27-20, in one overtime in 1998. That game was also on the road.

Ernest Wilford had a record-setting day for Tech, recording 279 yards receiving and four touchdowns on eight catches. The yardage and touchdowns receiving were both school records while the receptions were a career high. The yardage mark is also a new BIG EAST record while the TD mark ties the conference mark. In Tech's last four games, Wilford has 23 catches for 469 yards and five touchdowns.

Bryan Randall set a Tech single-game record with five touchdown passes. The sophomore threw for a career-high and new BIG EAST record 504 yards on 23-of-35 passing. He was intercepted three times and also ran for a score. He threw 87-yard passes to both Ernest Wilford and tight end Keith Willis. Those passes are tied for the third-longest passes in school history and the longest for Tech in a BIG EAST game.

Randall's 504 yards passing marked the second-highest total ever for a Virginia Tech player. Don Strock passed for 527 yards during a 1972 game against Houston.

Willis' catch was the longest by a Tech tight end. His 113 yards receiving were the most for a Tech tight end under head coach Frank Beamer. The last time a Tech tight end had over 100 yards receiving in a game was in 1982, when Mike Shaw caught seven passes for 120 yards against VMI.

Garnell Wilds tied a Tech and BIG EAST Conference record with three interceptions. He also had four pass breakups. In Tech's last trip to Syracuse, teammate Willie Pile also had three interceptions of SU quarterback Troy Nunes.

Tech had two players with over 100 yards receiving in the same game for the first time under head coach Frank Beamer.

Lee Suggs' touchdown reception with 5:41 left to go in the first quarter marked the 23rd consecutive game in which he has played that he has scored a touchdown. He now has 48 career touchdowns and 45 career rushing touchdowns, both Tech and BIG EAST records.

The TD was Suggs' second TD reception of the season (Western Michigan) and the third of his career. He becomes the first Tech tailback to catch two touchdown passes in the same season since Vaughn Hebron caught four TD passes in 1990.

With his 6-yard run in the third quarter, Lee Suggs went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season and for the second time in his career. It's the 11th time in school history a player has eclipsed the mark and he becomes just the third player to accomplish the feat twice in his career. He finished with 65 yards on 19 carries, putting him at 1,021 yards for the season.

With his 65 yards, Suggs moved past Phil Rogers and into seventh place on the Tech career rushing list. The senior now has 2,463 career rushing yards. He needs 61 yards to pass Eddie Hunter (2,523) and move into sixth place.

Carter Warley's extra point in the first quarter was the first kick he has attempted since the Western Michigan game on Sept. 28. Warley has been battling back pain.

Colin Barber is the first player to make two or more field goals against Tech this year.

Syracuse's David Tyree has now blocked a Virginia Tech punt in each of the last three years. In 2000, he blocked Robert Peaslee's kick and blocked a Vinnie Burns punt both last year and this season. Additionally, Tyree's 229 receiving tie the Tech mark for the most receiving yards in a game by an opponent. Florida State's Ron Sellers had 229 yards against Tech in 1967.

The Orangemen's 100 offensive plays tied the record for the most plays against Virginia Tech. William & Mary and Ohio University each had 100 plays during the 1971 season.

Syracuse's 604 yards of total offense is most against Tech since Rutgers had 606 yards in 1992.

Tech (8-2, 3-2) has the week off before hosting West Virginia on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at Lane Stadium/Worsham Field. Game time is set for 7 p.m., and it will be televised by ESPN2. WVU leads the series, 26-20-1 after Tech won 35-0 last season at Morgantown.

Complete stats from the game
 
Despite 559 yards of total offense and record-setting performances from quarterback Bryan Randall and receiver Ernest Wilford, Virginia Tech found itself on the losing end of a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, wild 50-42 triple overtime affair with the Syracuse Orangemen at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

The loss marked Tech's second straight to the Syracuse as the Hokies fell to 8-2 on the season, 3-2 in the BIG EAST. Syracuse won its third straight game, improving to 4-6 overall and 2-3 in the league.

In the third overtime, Syracuse took possession first at the Tech 25 and scored on the first play of the drive when tailback Damien Rhodes rushed around the left side 25 yards for a touchdown. Forced to go for two points according to NCAA rules at that point in the game, Syracuse attempted a halfback pass with Rhodes, but Rhodes reversed his field and outran Tech defenders to the end zone for two points to give Syracuse a 50-42 lead.

On Tech's next possession, quarterback Bryan Randall tried to hit receiver Ernest Wilford in the end zone on the first play of the drive. But Syracuse's Maurice McClain intercepted the ball, ending the game and setting off a wild celebration as Syracuse fans stormed the field.

"We had a lot of chances to win," said a disappointed Tech head coach Frank Beamer. "We just didn't get it done. You've got to give Syracuse credit. They hung in there and found a way to win."

Tech had several chances to win this one. At the end of regulation, Carter Warley missed a game-winning 46-yard attempt with 16 seconds left. That sent the game to overtime with the two teams tied at 35.

In the first overtime, Tech's Garnell Wilds picked off a pass by Troy Nunes and all Tech needed to win the game was a field goal. But Warley missed a 36-yarder, sending the game into a second overtime.

In the second overtime, Randall scored on a 1-yard run to give the Hokies a 42-35 lead. With one last chance, Syracuse drove to the Tech 6, where Tech's defense then stiffened, forcing Syracuse to go for it on fourth-and-4. Syracuse, though, answered when Nunes hit Joe Donnelly for a 6-yard touchdown pass that ultimately tied the game at 42.

Nunes completed 24-of-40 for 403 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions. David Tyree caught nine passes for 229 yards for Syracuse and Walter Reyes rushed for 118 yards and scored three touchdowns. Syracuse amassed 604 yards of total offense.

"It's very disappointing," Tech mike linebacker Mikal Baaqee said. "They pounded us. That's about all you can say."

As for the Hokies, Randall completed 23-of-35 for 504 yards and five touchdowns, with three interceptions. The passing yardage marked the second most in a single game in school history (Don Strock, 527 yards against Houston, 1972) and the touchdown passes broke the previous record of four shared by four others.

Wilford caught eight passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns. His 279 yards receiving shattered the previous Tech single-game record of 213 yards set in 1972 by Ricky Scales against Wake Forest. His four touchdown catches broke the previous mark of three shared by Scales (Ohio,1972) and Antonio Freeman (Temple, 1993).

Lee Suggs rushed for 65 yards on 19 carries and went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He caught two passes for 24 yards and extended his streak of scoring at least one touchdown to 23 games when he caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Randall to account for Tech's first touchdown of the game.

The Hokies have a week off before facing West Virginia on Wednesday, Nov. 20th. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m., with ESPN2 showing the game.