- The Washington Times - Friday, September 16, 2005

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech cornerback Roland Minor ran back an interception for a touchdown to outscore Duke all by himself last Saturday, but Ohio’s Dion Byrum did him one better a night earlier.

Byrum scored both his team’s touchdowns as former Nebraska coach Frank Solich earned his first win at Ohio, a 16-10 overtime upset of visiting Pittsburgh. The senior cornerback from Matthews, N.C., has scored three of his team’s four touchdowns this season, with the first coming on a 62-yard fumble return at Northwestern.

Today Byrum, the national defensive player of the week for his showing against the Panthers, leads Ohio (1-1) against Virginia Tech (2-0) in the home opener for the fourth-ranked Hokies. Byrum’s 85-yard interception return ended a nationally televised game from their home stadium in Athens.

“I don’t think it was a fluke. They really took it to Pittsburgh,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “I mean [Byrum’s] had three sensational plays in two games.”

The Bobcats are tied for seventh in the nation with four interceptions, tied for 11th in turnovers with six and tied for 20th with three sacks a game. With Byrum’s help, Ohio accomplished what Virginia Tech failed to do in its last two seasons in the Big East: beat Pittsburgh.

“They’re going to come in here very confident, very fired up,” Beamer said.

Meanwhile, the Hokies are coming off a 45-0 drubbing of Duke in which they allowed just 35 yards, the fewest for the program in the modern era (post-1950). In Virginia Tech’s first ACC shutout, Minor — a redshirt sophomore from the District’s H.D. Woodson High School — had a 23-yard interception return for a score.

Duke, which ran for just 13 yards, entered Virginia Tech territory for only two plays the entire game. With the Hokies leading 7-0 near the end of the first quarter, Minor ran to his left, crossed in front of the receiver near the left sideline for an interception and ran it back for Virginia Tech’s first defensive touchdown of the season.

“I didn’t think I was going to be the first, but you never know,” said Minor, who has two career touchdowns on interception returns. “To score on defense is very common for us.”

Minor has been a common target for opponents this year because senior Jimmy Williams mans the other corner.

“They’re not trying to throw to [Williams] a lot, so I’m trying to make as many plays as I can,” Minor said.

Said Beamer: “I think Roland welcomes the challenge.”


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