September 6, 2008
Tech's offense gets assist from stellar defense
Pair of third-quarter turnovers sets Hokies up for 24-7 win over Furman
Furman (1-1) 00077
259d Virginia Tech (1-1) 0321024
  • Lane/Worsham Field - 66,233
  • Passing: Sean Glennon 42 yds
  • Rushing: Tyrod Taylor 112 yds
  • Receiving: Kenny Lewis 36 yds

BLACKSBURG, Va.Unlike basketball and soccer, there is no such thing as an assist on offense in the game of football. But for its role in a 24-7 victory over Furman on Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech’s defense certainly deserves to be credited with a couple.

The defense didn’t score in this one like it did last week when cornerback Stephan Virgil accounted for eight of Tech’s 22 points against East Carolina, but it definitely played the role of point guard during a third quarter that saw the Hokies (1-1) turn a paltry 3-0 halftime lead into a comfortable 24-0 cushion before giving up a late score in fourth.

“The good thing is we won – we made some plays in the third quarter to win,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “But we have to get better. We are a team that needs to improve each and every week. I thought our football team hung in there and played hard. We just don’t always play as well as we need to. The history of this program is that we continue to improve throughout the season, and I think we’ll do that this week.”

Game Notes

Taylor goes for 100 in first action: Tech’s staff made the decision to scrap the redshirt plans for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and the sophomore from Hampton, Va., made the most of his first action of the season. He rushed for 112 yards on 14 carries, including a 50-yard run that set up Tech’s first touchdown of the day. Passing-wise, he completed just 4-of-5 for 26 yards.

“They did a good job of taking some of the routes away,” Taylor said. “I found gaps in the defense where I could run and made some plays with my feet.

“I’d say, maybe seven times, we had passes called. But nothing was there, so I took off. If it’s not there, I’m going to try and make a play with my feet or throw it out of bounds.”

The 100-yard rushing game marked the second of Taylor’s career. He rushed for 118 yards at Clemson last year.

Glennon moves up career chart: Tech quarterback Sean Glennon got the start and completed 3-of-8 for 42 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. His 10-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Lewis, Jr., got the Hokies on the board and was a tremendous play, as he avoided the rush and made a tough, but perfect, throw to Lewis.

“It just felt like I couldn’t catch a break there for a while,” Glennon said. “Last week, [Greg] Boone stumbled and that was an interception. This week, I don’t know if I threw it too hard, but it went through his hands and that was another interception. Then I made a big play and that was called back because of penalty (a long pass to Ike Whitaker).

“So I was glad Kenny hung on to the ball. I was very grateful for that. If the defensive back had jarred the ball loose, that would have been icing on the cake.”

Glennon continued his move up the career chart in passing yards at Tech after throwing for 42 yards against Furman. That total gave him 4,305 passing yards for his career and enabled him to move into sixth place on Tech’s all-time list. He leaped Steve Casey, who threw for 4,299 yards in his career from 1978-81.

Glennon, a redshirt senior from Centreville, Va., is poised to move up the list in total offense. He needs just 92 yards to pass Michael Vick (1999-2000) and move into seventh place in that category.

Lewis notches career first: Lewis’ 10-yard touchdown reception marked the first of his career. The junior from Danville, Va., caught a team-leading three passes for 36 yards. He also rushed for 50 yards on 13 carries and scored on a 23-yard run 85 seconds after his touchdown reception.

Virgil with another big day: Tech cornerback Stephan Virgil followed his tremendous game against East Carolina – a game in which he returned a fumble for a touchdown and returned a blocked extra point for a two-point conversion – with another solid effort against Furman. Virgil returned a third-quarter interception 18 yards to the Furman 9, helping set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Darren Evans that made the score 24-0 in favor of the Hokies.

Virgil had five tackles, including two for a loss, and he also broke up a pass to go with the interception. The interception marked the first of his career and the first of the season for the junior from Rocky Mount, N.C.

Graves doubles up: For the second straight week, Tech defensive tackle John Graves got his hand up and blocked a kick. Against ECU, he blocked an extra-point attempt, and against Furman, the redshirt sophomore from Richmond blocked a 33-yard attempt by Furman kicker Matthew Cesari to preserve the Hokies’ shutout.

Graves became the first Tech player to block a kick in consecutive games since John Engelberger blocked kicks in back-to-back games in 1997. Engelberger blocked an extra-point attempt against Pittsburgh and a field-goal attempt against Virginia.

Tech now has 119 blocks in Frank Beamer’s 256 games as the head coach at Tech, including 37 field-goal attempts.

Getting in their kicks: Senior Dustin Keys made his first collegiate field goal, a 22-yarder with 29 seconds left in the first half. He missed his lone attempt last week against ECU.

Also, true freshman Justin Myer served as the kickoff man this game, making him the ninth true freshman to play for the Hokies this season.

Injury report: Defensive end Jason Worilds suffered a left shoulder sprain early in the game and did not return. Linebacker Cam Martin suffered a left groin strain in the third quarter and did not return to the game. Both will be re-evaluated on Sunday.

After sputtering into the locker room with only place-kicker Dustin Keys’ first collegiate field goal – a 22-yarder with just 29 ticks left on the second-quarter clock – to its credit, the Hokies’ offense finally came to life in the third period.

“We needed something big to happen,” junior tailback Kenny Lewis Jr., said of the team’s mood at the intermission. “We were dead. We didn’t have any energy. We needed somebody to make a big play.”

And almost upon request, the Hokies made some big plays on both sides of the ball during the third quarter. Tech’s first touchdown pass of the season came courtesy of redshirt senior quarterback Sean Glennon, who eluded two Furman rushers on a 3rd-and-6 from the Furman 10 and side-armed a pass under the reach of another Paladin to Lewis, who hauled in an impressive catch while taking a big hit in the end zone.

“I knew the guy that had me in coverage had gone up to take on Sean,” Lewis described. “So I got open, but I knew the safety was back there. It was just a matter of when he was going to hit me. I made sure I secured the ball when I was in the end zone. It was painful, though.”

Keys’ PAT gave the Hokies a 10-0 lead following the six-play, 64-yard drive that was fueled by a 50-yard scamper by sophomore quarterback Tyrod Taylor three plays earlier.

It was then that Tech’s defense stepped up and gave the offense a hand. On Furman’s opening play following the Lewis touchdown, Hokie whip linebacker Cody Grimm jarred the ball loose from Paladin fullback Brantley Kendall, and free safety Kam Chancellor fell on it at the Furman 31-yard line. The Hokies went right back to Lewis, and he collected a 1-yard rush and a 7-yard catch on a Taylor pass before breaking loose for a 23-yard touchdown run. Keys’ PAT made it 17-0 in Tech’s favor, and it came just 1:25 after the first score.

The Tech defense struck again two plays later when Virgil stepped in front of a Jordan Sorrells pass, intercepting it and returning it 18 yards to the Furman 9. Redshirt freshman tailback Darren Evans then turned in carries of six and three yards, with the latter getting into the end zone for his second rushing score in as many games. After Keys chipped in the extra point, Tech had put up 21 points in a matter of 2:29 and led 24-0 with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Furman (1-1) mustered just 34 rushing yards in the game and only had one legitimate scoring chance against the Hokies’ first-team defense, a 33-yard field-goal attempt by Matthew Cesari late in the third quarter. But the Hokies snuffed that out, as defensive tackle John Graves swatted the kick down for his second block of the season. He also thwarted an extra point attempt against East Carolina last Saturday.

The Paladins did manage a touchdown with 6:02 remaining in the contest against Tech’s second-team defense, a 17-yard connection from Sorrells to Chris Truss that capped a six-play, 72-yard drive. Cesari’s PAT set the final score of 24-7.

The Hokies finished with 329 yards of total offense, though only 68 of it came through the air. Glennon and Taylor split time under center, with Glennon going 3-of-8 for 42 yards with the touchdown and an interception, and Taylor completing 4-of-5 for 26 yards.

While the passing game never really got going, luckily for the Hokies, their running game did. Tech’s rushers averaged 5.4 yards per carry en route to 261 yards on the ground. Taylor led the way with 112 yards on 14 attempts, while Evans earned 72 yards on 11 carries and Lewis tallied 50 yards on 13 touches. Lewis also accounted for three of Tech’s seven receptions, totaling 36 yards.

“We’ve just got to get experience,” Lewis said of the offense’s intermittent struggles. “We’ve got to get the receivers on the same page. We’ve got to get the o-line and the backs on the same page. Furman did a good job of mixing blitzes. We knew what blitzes they ran, but they ran them at times when we weren’t expecting it. It’s just a matter of us getting the experience and being able to single those blitzes out.”

Six Tech defenders had at least four tackles, with end Orion Martin registering the lone sack. The Hokies broke up five passes in the contest.

The Hokies’ next challenge comes on Sat., Sept. 13th when the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech visit Lane Stadium for a 3:30 p.m. tilt that will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

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