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No. 4 V'Tech Rocks # 16 'Cuse

In the biggest game ever at Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech hung the biggest shutout ever on a ranked team.

Despite being ranked No. 4, even the unbeaten Hokies were surprised at the ease of their record-setting 62-0 embarrassment of No. 16 Syracuse.

Anybody got a problem with Virginia Tech's national championship hopes now?

"I never imagined this," said receiver Andre Davis, shaking his head with a big smile. "It should erase the doubts. Some people may still be doubtful a little bit, but Syracuse was the 16th-ranked team in the nation. To beat a ranked team like this, it should say a lot."

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Game summary

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  • It was the largest shutout loss by a ranked team in the history of The Associated Press poll, which began in 1936. The previous largest shutout was No. 1 Army's 61-0 victory over No. 6 Penn State in 1945.

    The largest losing margin for a ranked team is 63 points, when No. 11 Texas was beaten 66-3 by unranked UCLA in 1997.

    With the crystal national championship trophy on the sidelines, Virginia Tech (6-0 overall, 2-0 Big East) continued its best run since 1967, ended a two-year homecoming jinx and got its biggest victory margin since a 73-0 victory over Catholic in 1922.

    The defense did much of the damage, scoring two touchdowns and allowing Syracuse just three first downs until the second-stringers took over in fourth quarter. The Orangemen gained just 120 yards against the Hokies, who are allowing an average of 8 points per game.

    "I've been trying to tell you for two years that no one can play defense the way we do," defensive end Corey Moore said. "I think we've made that statement."

    Juking and swiveling to turn losses into big plays, Hokies freshman quarterback Michael Vick was 8-of-16 for 135 yards and one touchdown. In his last three games, Vick is 26-of-37 for 605 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.

    "That's just the type of player he is," Davis said. "He can make plays out of nothing."/B>

    As splendid as things went for the Hokies, they were downright humiliating for the Orangemen (5-2, 2-1), who matched a 62-0 loss at Princeton in 1912. Syracuse was beaten 66-0 by Union in 1893 and 75-0 by Union in 1891.

    Syracuse has been outscored 169-34 in its last four trips to Blacksburg.

    "Would you be embarrassed when you get beat this bad?" guard Frank Guifre said. "Of course, we are."

    Everything turned ugly for Syracuse in the second half, when the defense seemed to give up as Shyrone Stith rambled for long runs up the middle. Punter Mike Shafer fumbled two snaps, a fumble was lost on a kickoff return and a personal foul penalty killed a drive after a rare first down.

    "Sometimes when you're not playing well and things go wrong, it gets to be a snowball type of thing," coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "And that's what happened tonight."

    Pasqualoni stuck to his quarterback rotation of Madei Williams and Troy Nunes and even let tailback Dee Brown handle some snaps

    but nothing any of them could do was effective. Williams and Nunes combined for six completions on 22 attempts for 43 yards with two interceptions.

    Stith, who rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and Vick provided the offensive spark for the Hokies, but it was defense that set the tone early.

    Cornerback Anthony Midget, who punished the Syracuse receivers with big hits, created the first touchdown when he poked the ball away from Quinton Spotwood after a completed pass. Cory Bird scooped it up just before it hit the grass and ran 26 yards down the sideline to make it 7-0.

    Taking the ball on punts, the Hokies marched downfield for touchdowns on their next three drives, with Stith scoring twice on 1-yard runs and the left-handed Vick throwing a bullet back across the field to Ricky Hall for an 8-yard score.

    Andre Kendrick ran for a 7-yard score, and Andre Davis was untouched as he sprinted 28 yards on a reverse for a TD in the second half.

    Phillip Summers returned an interception 43 yards in the fourth quarter, the fourth TD scored by the Hokies defense this season. Tee Butler capped the scoring when he recovered a fumbled snap on a punt attempt in the end zone.

    Shayne Graham kicked field goals of 25 and 37 yards and made eight extra points, putting him back ahead of Syracuse kicker Nate Trout as the Big East's career scoring leader.

    The Hokies came into homecoming weekend unbeaten in 1997 and 1998, but were upset two years ago by Miami of Ohio and last year by Temple.

    This time, the festivities weren't dampened by the game.

    "It's a special night in Blacksburg," coach Frank Beamer said.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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