Hokies overcome Ore injury to pound No. 14 Wake Forest
By Jimmy Robertson
November 19, 2006

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Virginia Tech overcame an injury to its star offensive player, getting a huge game from its quarterback and stingy defense en route to a dominating 27-6 ACC victory over No. 14 Wake Forest in front of 36,723 fans at Groves Stadium on Saturday night.

With the victory - Tech's fifth straight - the 19th-ranked Hokies moved to 9-2 overall on the season, 5-2 in the ACC. Tech improved to 11-1 in ACC road games since joining the league, and needs just a win over UVa to record the sixth 10-win regular season in the school's history. Wake, meanwhile, fell to 9-2, 5-2 in the ACC.

"I'm really proud of this football team," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "We had a setback early in the game when Branden Ore went down with an injury, and we had to fight through that. Our offense made some big plays - and we just missed on a few more in the first half - and we got some big plays from our defense.

"This was a great team win. It was kind of like we've been doing all along. We just found a way to win and we did it against a really good football team."

The Hokies jumped on the hot Demon Deacons, winners of four straight, early, scoring on their third play from scrimmage. Quarterback Sean Glennon connected with Eddie Royal across the middle, and Royal made a guy miss before racing down the sideline 49 yards for a touchdown. Brandon Pace's extra point gave the Hokies a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.

But the euphoria was short-lived. On the third play of Tech's next possession - the sixth play of the game for Tech's offense - Branden Ore went down clutching his ankle after a short run. The redshirt sophomore from Chesapeake, Va., who led the ACC in rushing at 109 yards per game, had to be helped off the field and never returned as Tech's sports medicine staff diagnosed him with a severely sprained left ankle. He will be re-evaluated on Sunday.

With Ore out, Tech's offense needed for someone to make some plays and Glennon turned out to be the guy. The 6-foot-4, 221-pound redshirt sophomore - who hadn't thrown a touchdown in the previous three games - ended up completing 14-of-21 for 252 yards, with two long touchdowns and no interceptions.

With the Hokies leading 7-3 at the break, Glennon helped Tech add to the margin at the start of the second half, as Tech scored on its opening drive of the final 30 minutes. He found Josh Morgan down the Wake sideline, and Morgan broke the tackles of two Wake defensive backs on his way to a 53-yard touchdown reception. Pace's extra point made the score 14-3.

"It's always in my mindset to make plays, but when Branden went down, I went over to the receivers and told them we had to make some plays," Glennon said. "I told them this was our game to take over, and we had to make some plays, and that's what we did."

The two teams exchanged field goals before Tech's defense made the play to seal the game. Xavier Adibi, Tech's starting backer, picked up a fumble by Wake's Kevin Harris and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. Harris had caught a screen pass from Wake quarterback Riley Skinner and was popped by Tech's Aaron Rouse. Adibi scooped up the loose ball and went the distance for a his second career touchdown, giving Tech a 24-6 lead with 3:01 left in the third quarter.

That turned out to be all the Hokies would need on this night. Tech's defense stymied the Wake rushing attacking, holding the Demon Deacons to a mere 62 yards, and they finished with just 257 yards against Tech's No. 1-ranked defense (total defense).

"When we saw Branden go down, we all knew we had to step up and make sure those guys weren't going to score," Rouse said. "We really pulled together as a team. The offense, with Sean Glennon and Josh Morgan and all those guys, made plays. When you have a great player like that go down, everyone has to pull together as a team and make things happen."

Pace added a 35-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to account for the final margin. He has now made 21 straight field-goal attempts, extending his school record.

The Hokies now get ready for their in-state rivals, who come to Blacksburg next Saturday. Kickoff is slated for noon, with the game being televised on Lincoln Financial Network.