Sunday, September 12, 2004
Hokies thump Western Michigan 63-0
Game ends an unblemished series for Tech
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Twitter: Andy Bitter
BLACKSBURG - There was a bit of good news for Western Michigan's football team here Saturday afternoon. It won't have to see Virginia Tech again anytime soon.
In a fitting end to a series in which the two schools played three games in four years, Tech completed a rare hat trick, shutting out the Mid-American Conference foe for a third consecutive time in a resounding 63-0 shellacking at Lane Stadium. "I'm not sure that everybody was aware, but I was well aware that they hadn't scored on us and I wanted to put a pinpoint on that," Tech senior defensive lineman Jim Davis said. "I think this shutout is very important. It's big for us as a team, big for these young kids' confidence. I'm just so happy, so proud of these young guys. They played tough."
Added to its 31-0 victory over WMU in 2001 and 30-0 win in Kalamazoo, Mich., in '02, Tech wound up outscoring the Broncos 124-0 in the three-game set.
"I think there was a big spread out there in what [Tech] was able to do compared to what we were able to do," WMU coach Gary Darnell said. "You pay a huge price for even the smallest mistakes against this bunch."
A young bunch, too. Six of Tech's nine touchdowns in its biggest shutout victory in 82 years were scored by either true freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Fifteen of the Hokies' 19 completed passes were caught by either true or redshirt freshmen.
Freshman Eddie Royal scored on an 11-yard flanker reverse to get the rout started, and later caught a 35-yard TD pass from Bryan Randall to make it 28-zip late in the first half.
Redshirt freshman fullback John Kinzer caught a 3-yard TD pass, freshman wideout Justin Harper reeled in a 34-yard TD pass, freshman cornerback Brandon Flowers scored on a 38-yard interception return, and redshirt freshman tight end Duane Brown hauled in a 33-yard TD pass.
"Some good freshman made some good plays," satisfied Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. "I have to give those receivers a lot of credit. I don't think they had a dropped ball."
Unlike in Tech's opening 24-13 loss to No.1 Southern California, Randall didn't have to run for his life every other play, plus he could look downfield and see some open receivers. Randall picked apart WMU's secondary, completing 15 of 21 passes for 253 yards and two TDs.
"Those young guys were making plays," Randall said. "If we get 'em out there and they can make plays, it doesn't matter whether they're freshman or seniors. Just as long as they know what they're doing."
Tech's defense sure knew what it was doing. The Hokies had an answer every time it appeared the visitors were on the brink of scoring. The Broncos drove inside the Tech 20 three times, only to see kicker Robert Menchinger have a 22-yarder blocked by Davis with 5:21 left in the first quarter, miss left from 27 yards on the final play of the first half, and miss right from 33 yards with 10:01 left in the game.
Menchinger's final miss came with WMU trailing 56-0. When asked why he would go for a field goal while down by eight TDs, Darnell said: "We're not going to win the game at that point, but we are going to kick some field goals this year and we've got to find out what it takes to fix it."
Davis said he thought his early block shook Menchinger's confidence for the rest of the day. He said he wasn't surprised that Darnell sent his kicker out for the late field-goal attempt.
"I think they wanted to score," Davis said. "If I was a head coach, I don't want to be shut out, either."
Tech's defense sent WMU starting QB Blayne Baggett out of the game with rib injuries late in the first quarter. WMU starting tailback Trovon Riley was knocked so dizzy he headed to the wrong huddle on WMU's second series and didn't return until the second half.
"When a lot of teams hit you, you kind of bounce off," said Ryan Cubit, who replaced Baggett. "When they hit you, they drive you into the ground, and sometimes you feel like you're kind of imbedded into the grass."
Darnell and his bunch won't have to worry about it any longer. Ohio University, starting next season, and Kent State, starting in 2006, are the next two MAC teams on Tech's schedule.
"I wish 'em all the luck in the world, both of 'em," said Darnell, laughing.