Virginia Tech speed kills

Posted: Monday, August 26, 2002

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- By the end of the first quarter, there was no doubt coach Frank Beamer was going to celebrate his 150th win.

Lee Suggs ran for his first touchdown in almost a year and Virginia Tech scored a team-record 56 points before halftime Sunday as the No. 16 Hokies routed Arkansas State 63-7 in the Hispanic College Fund Football Classic.

Opening the season without 11 starters from last year, Virginia Tech was led by sophomores Bryan Randall and DeAngello Hall, who combined for five touchdowns.

''When you have some fast guys you just want to play fast and watch the blurs go by,'' coach Frank Beamer said after getting his 150th career win.

Hokies running back Suggs, the nation's leading scorer two years ago, made a successful return after missing nearly all of last year with a torn ligament in his left knee. He gained 87 yards and scored the Hokies second TD on a 42-yard run in his first game since Sept. 1, 2001, when he was injured against Connecticut.

''It's been a year since I've been in the end zone,'' Suggs said. ''It's just a wonderful feeling.''

Randall, who took over at quarterback from Grant Noel in the second quarter, was 6-for-8 for 66 yards, connecting with Mike Imoh on a 19-yard touchdown and ran for two more.

Hall scored twice in the first quarter, returning a punt and an interception for touchdowns.

Seven Virginia Tech players had touchdowns in the first half as the Hokies took a 56-0 lead. The previous Virginia Tech school record for points in a first half was 49, against Rutgers in 1999.

''The way it happened was unbelievable,'' Arkansas State's first-year coach Steve Roberts said. ''You don't expect that to happen. We didn't take care of the football. They took advantage of the mistakes we made.''

Just about everyone got in on the action after Tech scored five straight touchdowns in the first quarter.

''We dressed 70 guys, and I think we got 68 into the game,'' Beamer said.

The Hokies had some especially tough adjustments to make on defense after losing six starters and five of its front seven including standout linebackers Ben Taylor and Jake Houseright.

But the inexperience didn't appear to change the way the Hokies usually dominate opponents. Arkansas State turned the ball over five times and was held to 227 total yards, 73 of which came on Elliot Jacobs' TD pass to Mike Cox in the third quarter.

''The defense is ready,'' Hall said. ''No matter what people say, the defense is ready.''

Five Hokies scored for the first time, including Randall, Hall, Imoh, defensive tackle Jason Lallis and tight end Jeff King.

''That was my second career play ever,'' said King, who was wide open in the end zone in the first quarter as Hokies starting quarterback Grant Noel floated the ball 19 yards into his hands. ''I don't think it could have been scripted any better.''

Jacobs completed nine of 16 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown. Mike Cox caught five passes for 120 yards and a touchdown.

Noel, who has had problems with his left knee, was 2-for-5 and threw a touchdown pass. He gave way to the speedy Randall in the second quarter.

Arkansas State, which went 2-9 last year and hasn't had a winning season since 1995, settled on Jacobs at quarterback in the second half after Tommy Miller was ineffective and left the game after reinjuring his right knee.

The Indians sorely missed two-time 1,000-yard rusher Jonathan Adams, who's now on the New Orleans Saints. Adams' successor, Danny Smith, had 36 yards rushing and was benched after fumbling three times.

On his first drive in the second quarter, Randall ran for 37 yards and scored on a 12-yard keeper. He followed up with his scoring pass to Imoh and added a 5-yard TD scramble in the third quarter.

Tech took a 35-0 first-quarter lead, and the scoring rush started when Hall caught a punt and zigzagged 69 yards for the touchdown.

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