Virginia Tech 30,
Boston College 10
Virginia Tech cornerback Jimmy Williams had been programmed not to say it, drilled repeatedly about never looking ahead, always taking it one game at a time. But after the No. 3 Hokies dominated an opponent on national television for the second week in a row, Williams couldn't resist thinking about an opportunity he and his teammates might never get this season.
"Man, we're chomping at the bit to get a chance" against Texas or Southern California, Williams said. "We're patiently waiting."
In its 30-10 victory over No. 13 Boston College on Thursday night in front of a sold-out crowd of 65,115 at Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech once again proved that it might be the team best equipped to beat the two-time defending national champion Trojans or the Longhorns, who own the top two spots in the major polls and Bowl Championship Series rankings.
Virginia Tech held the Eagles to only 183 yards of offense, after they gained 365 yards or more in each of their first seven games. The Hokies ran for 212 yards against a defense that ranked first in the ACC and fourth in Division I-A against the run, allowing an average of only 77.7 yards per game, and limited Boston College to only 27 rushing yards on 21 attempts.
"We wanted to come out on national television and earn some respect," Williams said. "I think we earned some respect with the way the defense played and the offense showing that it can strike at any time."
The Hokies improved to 8-0 and 5-0 in the ACC, maintaining their lead over No. 6 Miami (5-1, 2-1) in the Coastal Division. The Hurricanes host North Carolina on Saturday and then travel to Blacksburg next week. The Hokies beat Miami, 16-10, in the Orange Bowl last year to win the ACC in their first season in the league.
To win the ACC again, Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said, "I think you've got to beat Miami."
The Hokies will probably have to be more efficient on offense against the Hurricanes, who have won five games in a row since losing at Florida State in their opener. Against Boston College, Virginia Tech moved inside the Eagles 20 on seven possessions, but scored only two touchdowns and three field goals.
After Hokies junior Brandon Pace missed a 31-yard field goal attempt midway through the fourth quarter, Virginia Tech's defense had to finally put away the Eagles (6-2, 3-2). On second and 10 from the Boston College 30 with about 31/2 minutes left, end Darryl Tapp wrapped up quarterback Quinton Porter's legs, but couldn't pull him to the ground.
Before falling down, Porter threw an ill-advised pass over his head. Linebacker Vince Hall intercepted and returned it 13 yards for a touchdown. Pace's extra point made it 30-10 with 3 minutes 16 seconds to play.
"I thought he was going to pull him down, so I was already starting to celebrate," Hall said. "But I saw him throw the ball, so I ran toward it and caught it."
Tapp, who sacked Porter twice and had another one wiped out by a false start penalty, said he was surprised he couldn't pull down the 232-pound quarterback.
"He wouldn't go down," Tapp said. "He's a strong guy. He just luckily got the ball off. But I guess he wasn't so lucky because Vince intercepted it."
After watching his offense squander a few scoring opportunities, Beamer said he was hoping his defense would make something happen.
"You keep thinking, 'Boy, we need a big play. We need a big play,' " Beamer said. "Then we got it."
Hall's interception return was Virginia Tech's only touchdown of the second half. Leading 20-10 early in the third quarter, the Hokies ran nearly seven minutes off the clock in marching from their 24 to the Boston College 12. But on second and seven from the Eagles 9, redshirt freshman tailback Branden Ore ran for nine yards around right end and fumbled. Cornerback Jazzmen Williams recovered in the end zone for a touchback.
The Virginia Tech defense forced the Eagles to punt on their next possession, and then the Hokies took over near midfield. But after driving to the Boston College 15, senior tailback Cedric Humes was stopped for a one-yard run on third and three, and Pace kicked a 31-yard field goal to make it 23-10 with 13:30 to play in the third.
"We caused ourselves problems inside the red zone," Humes said. "We had the fumble and we couldn't get first downs. We were just glad to get points."
Quarterback Marcus Vick, who completed 22 of 28 passes for 280 yards and ran 13 times for 52 yards, helped the Hokies produce points when they needed them most. After falling behind 7-6 early in the second quarter, Virginia Tech responded with two long touchdown drives.
Flanker Eddie Royal scored on a 15-yard run off an end-around play to make it 13-7, and then Vick threw a three-yard touchdown to Josh Morgan to make it 20-7 with 33 seconds left before halftime.
"We answer," Beamer said. "When something bad happens in a game, our offense comes back and answers. We are special in that way. But what we do from here on out is what is going to count."