- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 19, 2004

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Virginia Tech had a message for its new rivals yesterday as the Hokies took the field for the first time in an ACC game.

Watch out.

Bryan Randall ran for one touchdown and passed for another score as Tech cruised to a 41-17 win over Duke.

“I think they’re going to figure out real quick this is going to be a tough place to play,” Randall said of Tech’s upcoming conference opponents.

The Hokies (2-1, 1-0 ACC) dominated a beleaguered Blue Devils team (0-3, 0-1) that was decimated by injuries and playing its third straight road game.

Randall finished 12-for-24 with two interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 93 yards.

Richard Johnson also scored two touchdowns, throwing a 34-yard pass to Josh Hyman in the second quarter and catching another in the third quarter. The Hokies had tried handing the ball to Johnson to pass a few times in previous games, but this was the first time it worked.

“We’ve been waiting for this day a long, long time, and people who’ve been around Virginia Tech know how super it is to be in the ACC,” coach Frank Beamer said.

Tech, which had been dogged by even the weaker teams in the Big East the last few seasons, begins its inaugural ACC season as a relative unknown. Only Virginia and fellow Big East dropout Miami have played the Hokies the past two years.

Duke, a perennial bottom-dweller in the ACC, provided the Hokies a nice welcome into the conference. It’s not going to be so easy for the rest of the season, Randall said.

“We do expect the competition to get stiffer,” he said.

To win, Randall said, the Hokies are going to have to cut down on penalties. The Hokies were flagged 13 times for 101 yards against the Blue Devils.

“You make those mistakes [again], you might not be able to rebound from them,” he said.

Duke managed only 197 yards on offense and for most of the game depended on trick plays and unorthodox formations to advance the ball.

Without receivers Senterrio Landrum and Deonto McCormick, both injured in a 22-20 loss to Connecticut, the Blue Devils kept the ball on the ground. Quarterbacks Mike Schneider, Chris Dapolito and Curt Dukes combined for just six pass completions for 89 yards.

“They were very physical — they attacked and made some good plays,” Duke coach Ted Roof said. “We couldn’t get the ground game on track and we were sporadic in the throwing game.”

With less than a minute to play and the game already decided, Dukes launched a 35-yard pass to Jomar Wright for a TD.

In the first half, the Blue Devils’ longest pass play came on a punt fake by Trey McDonald, who connected with Andy Roland for 9 yards and a first down, setting up a 28-yard TD run by Deon Adams.

The Hokies came back in the second quarter, overpowering Duke’s line that was playing without injured defensive end Phillip Alexander, and scored 24 points to put the game out of reach.

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