The field was soggy, the offense was shaky, but Virginia Tech quarterback Nick Sorensen was sure his team would win. That's because the defense and special teams were spectacular.
The 17th-ranked and unbeaten Hokies intercepted three passes, recovered a fumble and blocked two punts as they broke a tie for the Big East lead with Boston College, beating the Eagles 17-0 Thursday night during a game-long downpour.
"I had no doubts throughout the game that we were going to win because of how good our defense is," said Sorensen, who committed five of Virginia Tech's six turnovers. "They come through every game."
For the second straight game, the Hokies (5-0, 3-0 Big East) put together an impressive goal-line stand, keeping the Eagles (3-2, 2-1) out of the end zone after a first-and-goal at the 1 with the score 14-0 late in the third quarter.
"It was the critical point of the game," Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said.
It kept intact the Hokies' record of not allowing a rushing touchdown this season. In fact, they've given up only four touchdowns while outscoring opponents 146-30.
And the defense, which handed Boston College its first shutout in 18 years, keeps scoring. Pierson Prioleau returned an interception 85 yards for a first-quarter touchdown. In the previous game, Keion Carpenter scored on one of his three interceptions in a 27-7 victory over Pittsburgh.
| Virginia Tech's offense was flat -- but the defense saved the day. (AP) |
"We knew it was going to be on our shoulders because our offense was feeling a little adversity," Carpenter said.
The weather didn't help as Sorensen lost three fumbles and two interceptions. Until the Pitt game he had been part of the defense as a free safety, but moved to quarterback after injuries to Al Clark and Dave Meyer. The defense succeeded despite the wet field.
"I was just hoping it wouldn't negate our speed on defense," Foster said. "We were able to get pressure on them."
The Hokies led 14-0 after a 2-yard touchdown run by Lamont Pegues following a blocked punt in the third. He finished with 146 yards. Then Shayne Graham followed a fumble recovery with a 29-yard field goal with 8:38 left in the game.
"They came with a lot of stunts before we snapped the ball, which got us confused," said Boston College's Mike Cloud, who gained 186 yards and has rushed for at least 100 in every game this year. "There were a lot of times out there we couldn't do anything."
Boston College suffered its first shutout since Oct. 4, 1980, when it lost 21-0 at Navy, and its first at home since Sept. 15, 1972, when it was beaten 10-0 by Tulane.
One of the few bright spots for Boston College on the rainy night was Cloud, but his biggest play, a 65-yard gain, led to his team's biggest disappointment.
That run with about six minutes left in the third quarter gave the Eagles a first down at the Virginia Tech 23 and they moved to a first-and-goal at the 1. Quarterback Scott Mutryn was stopped for no gain, then fumbled and recovered the second-down snap.
The Hokies came through again on third down, stopping Cloud for no gain. And on fourth down, Mutryn juggled the snap and was tackled for a loss as Virginia Tech got the ball with 1:00 left in the quarter.
That was "the key moment in the game," Eagles coach Tom O'Brien said. "They cause so many problems with their quickness."
Virginia Tech led only 7-0 at halftime as its deepest penetration came on its opening possession when it reached the Eagles 9. But Graham's 26-yard field goal attempt went wide left.
Boston College made it as far as the Hokies 18 on a 23-yard run by Cloud late in the first quarter. But two plays later, Mutryn threw the ball right to Prioleau, who raced 85 yards up the right side for the touchdown.
"What's the difference between Boston College and Virginia Tech?" O'Brien said. "They've been to the Gator Bowl twice, the Sugar Bowl and the Orange Bowl. We haven't been anywhere."
The best two Boston College players on the field didn't show up until halftime. That's when a ceremony was held to retire the jerseys of quarterback Doug Flutie, the Heisman Trophy winner in 1984, and nose tackle Mike Ruth, who won the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman i1985.
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