Virginia Tech 63,
Western Michigan 0
-- By the end of the first quarter Saturday, Virginia Tech had knocked Western Michigan's top runner groggy and put the starting quarterback out of the game. Then came a flood of touchdowns, led by freshman Eddie Royal, that ended with the Hokies scoring their largest shutout in more than eight decades, 63-0.
Six of Virginia Tech's touchdowns were scored by freshmen. The heralded Westfield High duo of Royal and quarterback Sean Glennon accounted for two each, with Royal scoring on an 11-yard run on the first play from scrimmage of his college career and Glennon throwing his first collegiate pass for a 34-yard touchdown.
"We call ourselves 'The Future,' " Josh Hyman said of the gang of redshirt and freshman wide receivers that includes himself, Royal, Josh Morgan (H.D. Woodson) and Justin Harper. Hyman had a touchdown catch in the season-opening loss to Southern California; Royal also had a 35-yard touchdown catch Saturday; and Harper took Glennon's first pass into the end zone.
"The only [pass] I was worried about was the first one," said Glennon. "It wasn't the greatest ball; Justin Harper did most of the work."
Glennon got to play late in the third quarter because of efforts that included cornerback Jimmy Johnson intercepting a pass that set up the first touchdown, senior quarterback Bryan Randall throwing for two touchdowns and a defense that stopped Western Michigan three times on one series from the 2-yard line. That goal line stand -- and subsequent blocked field goal attempt by defensive tackle Jim Davis -- came with the Hokies ahead 21-0 but was nonetheless significant.
"It was very, very important," Davis said. "We wanted to make a statement."
In its three-game series with Western Michigan that started four seasons ago, Tech has won by a combined 124-0. The Broncos missed two other field goal attempts, the last one from 33 yards with the Hokies up by 56.
"Obviously, the dark cloud was our boys didn't show up," Western Michigan Coach Gary Darnell said.
On the other sideline, this was as much as Coach Frank Beamer could have hoped for. His youngsters at key positions (four freshmen starting and more than a half-dozen others in significant backup roles) played well. And that allowed for developing players, especially Glennon and several offensive linemen, to gain experience.
One of those reserves, defensive lineman Jason Lallis (DeMatha), stole the ball and turned it into a 28-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter to lift Virginia Tech's lead to 42-0. It was the third straight season in which he has scored a touchdown, the others coming on a 59-yard fumble recovery against Arkansas State in 2002 and a 45-yard interception return against Central Florida last season.
"The right place at the right time," he said.
The youngsters' parade into the end zone included backup cornerback Brandon Flowers with a 38-yard interception early in the fourth quarter, fullback John Kinzer with a three-yard pass from Randall and third-team tight end Duane Brown with another Glennon pass for the final touchdown. Glennon went 4 for 4 with 79 yards.
Most of the pregame anticipation was for Royal, getting his first start at flanker and continuing on returns, and Beamer predicted: "He'll be a major [factor]. He's ready to accept it. He's a matter-of-fact guy with a lot of ability [and] a burst on punt returns."
Royal's first touchdown came on Virginia Tech's second series, on the play immediately following cornerback Jimmy Williams's 21-yard interception. From the 11, Royal took a reverse pitch from Randall, dashed past a defender that pinched too close to the line and skipped into the end zone after getting a solid block near the goal line.
The touchdown catch came on a beautifully thrown pass by Randall, a flick under pressure that hit Royal in stride at the goal line as he was freeing himself from a defensive back.
"Right now, I think it's coming a little easier" than expected, Royal said. "The coaches have prepared us great."