- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 12, 2006

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Under a darkening sky in Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Flowers loomed over the jackknifed body of Kent State receiver Najah Pruden, shaking his head warningly as the dropped pass went tumbling free.

If the Golden Flashes hadn’t gotten the point the Hokies defense was serious, Flowers made it painfully clear on the first play of the second half.

“All of it’s a spark, a spark — that’s all you need,” said linebacker Vince Hall, whose 15 tackles led the Tech defenders. “Something to spark the defense up when we’re flat. When Flowers hit him, that was it right there. Crowd went wild and it just went downhill for them.”

After a two field-goal lead in the first half, in which senior place kicker Brandon Pace broke the school record for consecutive field goals with his 18th, the Hokies followed Flowers and the rest of the defense to a 23-0 win over visiting Kent State (5-5).

“I seen the receiver wide open, so I just left my man knowing the quarterback was going to throw it to the receiver coming across the field,” Flowers said. “I knew I wasn’t in a position to intercept the ball so I knew I had to make a big hit on him. … I knew the way I hit him — I was hoping it would pop out the way I hit him, cause I knew I had a clean shot on him.”

The third-year sophomore’s hit set the tone for a second half that, while not without flaws, was a distinct recovery from the first two quarters of play. The Hokies terrorized quarterback Michael Machen, who was standing in under center in the Golden Flashes’ spread attack for injured starter Julian Edelman. The defense held Machen to 6-for-16 passing with a Macho Harris interception and two lost fumbles — one of which senior defensive end Noland Burchette returned 15 yards for the final touchdown.

“He called it before he scored,” Hall said. “He came to me and he was like, Vince watch the field around me, because if I get the ball I’m going to get a touchdown.”

Burchette’s score was only the second trip to the end zone for Virginia Tech.

Offensively, Virginia Tech (8-2) labored behind a porous line featuring backups at both positions on the left side. Tailback Branden Ore produced the lone offensive touchdown of the game on a 6-yard run, one of his 25 carries for 72 yards, and quarterback Sean Glennon completed 12 of 22 passes for 141 yards.

“I still say we have to keep fighting as a football team,” Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. “Get good field position, score when we can, and our offense has done a good job of that. Then you put a couple of injuries into the offensive line and that sets you back a little bit. … I think our football team is playing as well as they can play.”

The Hokies’ best may not be good enough next week at Wake Forest. They continue to deal with injuries, both pre-existing (to linemen Ryan Shuman and Brandon Frye) and fresh (to Harris and tight end Greg Boone). Despite the Hokies’ win, a Georgia Tech victory at North Carolina assured the Yellow Jackets of the Coastal Division title — guaranteeing that the Hokies will be left out of the ACC championship game.

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