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No. 4 Virginia Tech's rushing attack grounds Eagles

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2002

BOSTON -- Virginia Tech stayed unbeaten by doing what it does best -- run the ball and force turnovers -- and passed its toughest test so far.

The fourth-ranked Hokies improved to 6-0 for the fifth straight season as Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones both rushed for more than 140 yards in a 28-23 victory over Boston College on Thursday night.

''Basically, it was run it and pound it,'' Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. ''For the overall goals of this football team, we need to throw it better.''

That hasn't been necessary so far as Virginia Tech has averaged 240 yards rushing and the defense has produced 20 turnovers. The offense has committed just five.

The Hokies, second in the nation in turnover differential, needed three of them in or near the end zone to stop BC drives and win their seventh straight game against the Eagles. Virginia Tech had three interceptions against Brian St. Pierre and one fumble recovery.

''All in all, that's a good night against that defense,'' BC coach Tom O'Brien said of St. Pierre, who threw for 232 yards and was sacked once.

He also scored on a 1-yard run that made it 28-23 with 49 seconds to go. Then the Hokies came through again as Michael Crawford intercepted the 2-point conversion attempt.

''They fought until the end,'' Virginia Tech safety Willie Pile said. ''We were fortunate to come out with a win.''

Suggs rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns, Jones ran for 144 yards and one score, and the Hokies amassed 334 yards on 61 carries in their Big East opener. That was still less than their season-high of 395 yards in a 47-21 win over Marshall.

The Hokies have only one game left against a ranked team, No. 1 Miami in the regular-season finale. BC (3-2, 0-2) already has lost to Miami.

Jamal Burke's 83-yard punt return 1:03 before halftime made it 14-7 and was the first touchdown in the first half against Virginia Tech this season.

''That was a big play,'' O'Brien said. ''It got us back in the game. We were able to go in at halftime and say we stopped ourselves, they didn't stop us.''

The Eagles tied it 14-14 on their first drive of the second half, moving 80 yards on 10 plays to Derrick Knight's 5-yard run, only the second rushing touchdown against Virginia Tech all season. St. Pierre completed all four of his passes for 70 yards on the drive.

''I don't think anybody's head was down,'' said Hokies quarterback Bryan Randall, who was 4-of-7 for 86 yards and a touchdown. ''We all kept our poise. We knew we had it under control.''

The Hokies regained the lead, 21-14, on their next drive when Jones scored on a 5-yard run with 42 seconds left in the third quarter.

Sandro Sciortino's 49-yard field goal with 10:35 left in the game cut the lead to 21-17.

Then Suggs broke loose for a 27-yard touchdown run with 5:41 to go.

The game might have been closer had the Hokies not come up with those three turnovers deep in their territory.

In the second quarter, Garnell Wilds recovered Knight's fumble into the end zone for a touchback, and Pile intercepted St. Pierre's pass at the goal line and returned it 43 yards.

In the third quarter, BC trailed 21-14 and had a fourth-and-6 at the Virginia Tech 32. But Vincent Fuller intercepted St. Pierre's pass at the 1.

''It was a tough night,'' O'Brien said. ''We can't make the mistakes we made against a good football team and expect to come out on top.''

The Hokies had taken a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter on Randall's 44-yard touchdown pass to Ernest Wilford and Suggs' 1-yard run. It was Suggs' 39th rushing touchdown, breaking a tie with Amos Zereoue of West Virginia for most rushing touchdowns in Big East history.

The Eagles could take pride in scoring 23 points against a team that had allowed 39 in its first five games. Still, they lost for the 23rd time in their last 24 games against ranked teams.

And Wilford didn't care that the passing game was an afterthought in Virginia Tech's game plan.

''I don't feel left out,'' he said. ''We're 6-0. Can't ask for more.''



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