- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 22, 2002

COLLEGE STATION, Texas Frank Beamer took No.7 Virginia Tech into hostile territory, hoping to find out just how good the Hokies really are.
Playing in a stadium where no nonconference visitor had won since 1988, facing a defense that allowed 33.5 rushing yards a game, the seventh-ranked Hokies proved they're for real with a 13-3 victory over No.19 Texas A&M; yesterday.
"I couldn't be more proud," Beamer said. "We've beaten three ranked opponents, but until you go up on the road and beat a good team, that's what you can put your stamp on. We're going to enjoy this one."
Then, smiling and tilting his head toward the team bus, he added, "That thing is going to be rocking on the way home."
Over the previous two weeks, Virginia Tech (4-0) easily beat 14th-ranked LSU and then stomped No.16 Marshall. Those games were in front of adoring crowds in Blacksburg, as was an opening rout of Arkansas State.
This one wasn't nearly as easy.
With only a few hundred orange-clad Hokies fans among the crowd of 83,746, Tech got behind for the first time this season, didn't go ahead until the third quarter then finally gained control in the fourth.
And it wasn't the offense, led by "the Untouchables" backfield of Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones, that came up with the biggest plays. It was a no-nickname defense that came in with stats nearly as good as Texas A&M;'s "Wrecking Crew."
"We wanted to show we're right up there with the Wrecking Crew," said linebacker Vegas Robinson, whose interception set up the field goal that put Tech up 6-3 early in the third quarter.
The Hokies had two interceptions, a key fumble recovery and five sacks two coming on consecutive plays by defensive ends Nathaniel Adibi and Cols Colas, which pushed one of the Aggies' best drives back to midfield and forced a punt.
On the following drive, Bryan Randall threw a short pass to Ernest Wilford. He bounced out of a tackle by Byron Jones and ran 52 yards to the 1. Suggs plunged in from there, putting Tech up by 10 early in the fourth quarter.
"Once we got that touchdown, we felt like we had it in better control," said Suggs, who extended his streak of consecutive games with a TD to 16.
Suggs ran 13 times for 51 yards, and Jones carried 15 times for 48 yards. They had been averaging a combined 202.3 yards.
Bryan Randall was 10 of 11 for 119 yards nearly half on Wilford's burst as the Hokies gained just 248 yards.
In winning their road opener for the 10th straight year, the Hokies became the first nonconference team to win at Kyle Field since Alabama in 1988, back when Jackie Sherrill coached the Aggies.
A&M; (2-1) had been 29-0 at home against non-conference foes under coach R.C. Slocum, including 5-3 there against top-10 teams.
Tech had been averaging more than 45 points per game, mostly because it had scored touchdowns on 14 of 15 drives inside the opponent's 20-yard line. The Hokies got there four times against A&M;, but they only found the end zone once.
They settled for field-goal tries the other four times. Carter Warley made kicks of 22 and 26 yards, missed from 21 and had a 22-yarder blocked. The block came after Willie Pile returned a popped-up fumble 31 yards to the A&M; 7 on the drive following Suggs' touchdown.
"We had some opportunities that we didn't take advantage of," Beamer said. "We do that, and we could've had this game over a little earlier."
The Aggies' problems were on offense. Although they scored in the first quarter for the first time this season getting a 43-yard field goal from Todd Pegram after a short drive they couldn't score again and gained only 156 yards.
Slocum tried shaking things up by starting sophomore Dustin Long at quarterback instead of Mark Farris, who had started the last 26 games. Then he went to heralded freshman Reggie McNeal after halftime. He went back to Long after Suggs' touchdown.
"The total offensive numbers are disappointing," Slocum said. "Sometimes you get into evaluating as though we screwed everything up and it's our fault, but I think it was a combination of us not doing well and them playing well. There's been a lot of teams that have had trouble moving the ball against Virginia Tech this season."


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