September 27, 2014
All phases contribute in Hokies' win over Western Michigan
By Marc Mullen
BLACKSBURG – It’s called “Beamerball” – the ability to score points in all facets of the game. But in the 28 seasons Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer has been strolling the sidelines, he’s never seen a start like the one versus Western Michigan on Saturday.

Just eight seconds after Mitchell Ludwig kicked the ball off the tee to start the Homecoming contest, Andrew Motuapuaka was celebrating with his fellow special teamers in the end zone after he picked up a fumbled kickoff caused by Ronny Vandyke and rumbled 11 yards to pay dirt. The Hokies would go on to beat the Broncos 35-17.

“We had a good tough tackle on the opening kickoff and got that in the end zone,” Beamer said. “Someone told me every touchdown today was scored by a freshman, and there’s some talented kids there. There’s a learning curve for everyone.”

Motuapuaka now enters the Tech history books, knocking off a few Hokie greats in the process. He registered the fastest touchdown in the school annuls under Beamer. It surpassed the 18 seconds it took Andre Davis to turn a Michael Vick toss into a 74-yard touchdown reception at Rutgers on October 9, 1999.

Among the other firsts under Beamer, the touchdown was the first ever on the first play of the game (the Vick-to-Davis touchdown was the second play). It was the fifth time the Hokies scored on their first touch of the game; is the first for the team via a fumble recovery on a kickoff at any point in a game; and becomes the fastest score in Lane Stadium, passing David Wilson’s 20-yard run 47 seconds into the game versus Appalachian State on September 3, 2011 (see below for the five fastest touchdowns scored under Beamer).

“It was just all a blur, for real,” Motuapuaka said. “From the starting kickoff, I was just going full speed as usual and the ball comes out. I see one guy miss and I just went down and picked it up. I just saw green from there and kept going.

“This was a big deal. It was a blessing. I was just doing what I was supposed to do and the ball just came and the opportunity was there and I just went for it. I think I scored one time in high school on defense.”

Beamerball, which has led to 136 touchdowns since 1987 and includes 52 from the special teamers, would strike again less than two minutes later when – after the defense held the Broncos to a three-and-out – Western Michigan would see its punt attempt result in a safety. Then, on the Hokies’ ensuing possession after the safety, they connected on a 37-yard field goal by Joey Slye to take an 11-0 lead.

“Special teams play a huge role in every game, and it can change a game,” said Motuapuaka, who has been starting on the kickoff team since the East Carolina game. “For us to score on the first kickoff was amazing and helped the team get a good start overall and boosted the team.”

Despite the quick start, it would be the Hokies’ defense that would keep the team in front the rest of the way – or at least until the offense came to life in the third quarter.

On Western Michigan’s first eight possessions, the Broncos managed just 29 total yards on 27 plays. However, the Broncos did score a touchdown on a three-play, 3-yard drive that was set up by an interception. At that point, with 4:15 left in the first quarter, the Broncos were down 11-7 and had zero yards of total offense.

By the time Western Michigan would find the end zone again with 9:06 left in the fourth quarter, the Hokies held a 32-17 advantage on the scoreboard.

“I felt that we gave them some touchdowns because of some penalties and turnovers. I feel like we gave them some plays, but they also made some plays, too,” Detrick Bonner said.

Bonner aided the cause. He notched off his fifth career interception in the game, ending a Western Michigan threat.

“I just knew to favor No. 8 [Daniel Braverman],” he said. “And their quarterback [Zach Terrell] just threw it up and I just had good range on it and made a good play on it.”

Tech’s defense limited the Broncos’ rushing attack to just 19 yards on 24 carries, easily the lowest output of the season by a Tech opponent and the fewest since the Nov. 8, 2012, game when Florida State had minus-15 yards on 25 attempts.

“We always harp on the run, and that was our main focus for this week,” Bonner said. “They had a really good back in [Jarvion] Franklin, and we just keyed on his big-play ability and they didn’t play No. 84 [Corey Davis, 264 receiving yards coming in], so we didn’t have to focus on the pass as much. Franklin was the main focus because he’s a good back.”

“The big thing we needed to do today was stop the run,” Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “They’ve been rushing for about 200 yards a game, but couldn’t get started today.

“If you eliminate the run game, you can make them one-dimensional. I think we were pretty good on third down (4-of-15) … and that’s kind of the key because that’s like a turnover.”

Points from special teams, turnovers from the defensive unit and the ability to run the ball (the team had more than 300 on the ground Saturday) is what has made the Hokies a great football team over the past couple of decades.

And it’s a good time to see all three performing well. Tech hopes it carries over as the team now heads into ACC action for the rest of the regular season.

The five fastest touchdowns scored under Beamer:
1. Andrew Motuapuaka 11-yard fumble return vs. Western Michigan (9/27/14) – 0:08
2. André Davis 74-yard pass from Michael Vick at Rutgers (10/9/99) – 0:18
3. David Wilson 20-yard run vs. Appalachian State (9/3/11) – 0:47
4. Jermaine Holmes 0-yard punt return vs. Akron (10/14/95) – 1:06
5. D.J. Parker 32-yard interception return at Clemson (10/6/07) – 1:10

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