Veteran Kicker, Defense, Carry Tech Past Kent State, 23-0
By Matthew Spiers
November 11, 2006

Box Score Virginia Tech 23, Kent State 0
 
Virginia Tech, a school with a proud military history, paid homage to Veterans Day with the flyover of two F/A-18 Hornets before its game with Kent State. Tech's veteran defense then followed by defending its home turf and taking the fight to the Golden Flashes in recording Tech's third shutout of the season, 23-0, in front of 66,233 fans at Lane Stadium.

The win improves Tech's record to 8-2 on the season while the Golden Flashes fell to 5-5.

Tech got on the scoreboard first thanks to a Kent State turnover. Quarterback Michael Machen fumbled a snap and Tech linebacker Vince Hall pounced on it. Seven plays and 18 yards later, kicker Brandon Pace punched through a 34-yard field goal. Pace's field goal marked his 17th consecutive conversion, tying the school record set by Chris Kinzer in 1986.

Pace would add to Tech's lead and break Kinzer's school record with a 37-yard conversion before halftime. He booted the kick through to give the Hokies a 6-0 lead following a 10-play, 27-yard drive and with 2:52 showing on the clock before halftime. That is the way the teams would go into the break.

The Hokies mustered just 103 yards and six first downs in the first half against Kent State. Tech's defense took care of things on its side of the ball, though, giving up just 53 yards and three first downs to the Golden Flashes.

The Hokies finally got into the end zone on their first possession of the second half, though the Kent State defense helped a great deal with a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty and a 14-yard pass interference penalty. After the pass interference set Tech up with first-and-goal at the 6-yard line, Branden Ore took the handoff and scampered in for the touchdown and a 13-0 lead.

After Tech's defense forced a punt, Eddie Royal provided the play of the game to that point when he picked up some good blocking and returned the punt 42 yards to the Kent State 11. But as Royal was going down, Andre Kirkland stripped him of the ball and recovered the fumble, giving the Golden Flashes control of the ball back.

Kent embarked on its best drive of the game, aided by a 49-yard pass and catch on third down. The Golden Flashes proceeded to the Tech 6-yard line before Carlton Powell sacked Machen at the 15 on third-down. Nate Reed came on to attempt the 32-yard field goal, but it sailed wide right, keeping the shutout in tact.

The Hokies took the ball following the miss and also drove to the 6-yard line behind long completions to Justin Harper, Josh Morgan and David Clowney. On second-and-goal from the 6, Glennon found tight end Sam Wheeler for an apparent touchdown, but it came back when Morgan was whistled for an illegal motion on the play. Tech ended up settling for another Pace field goal, this one from 24 yards and his 19th consecutive make.

With the offense struggling to find the end zone, Tech's defense took matters into its own hands on Kent State's next possession and put the exclamation point on the win. On second down, Machen dropped back to pass and was drilled from behind by Chris Ellis. The ball popped into the air, where it was gathered in by Noland Burchette, who took it 15 yards for the touchdown and a 23-0 lead following Pace's extra point with 11:11 remaining in the game.

"Just right place, right time," Burchette said. "The coaches are always saying that if we play hard and go to the ball, good things will happen. So I came to the ball and good things happened, and I was just fortunate to take it the distance."

Ore rushed for 72 yards on 25 carries on the night, while Glennon completed 12-of-22 for 141 yards. The defense dominated Kent State with the exception of the one long drive that resulted in the missed field goal. The Golden Flashes only rushed for 84 yards on 34 carries, 28 of which came on a fake punt run by Reed.

"Not everything was pretty out there," head coach Frank Beamer said. "I think we could've got things a little bit better had we not fumbled on the punt return and given up the long pass on third down - those were two gigantic plays there close together. But we just have to keep plugging along."

The win marked Tech's 25th consecutive non-conference win at home. The Hokies step back into the ACC fray in its final two games, with next week's contest taking place at No. 18 Wake Forest. Game time has not been set.