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Vick lifts Hokies to easy Gator Bowl victory
The Virginia Tech Hokies did everything they were expected to and even a little bit more.
Tech scored its standard 41 points against a tough Clemson defense. Michael Vick showed why he is one of the most exciting players in college football.
But it was the much-maligned Hokies defense that came up big in Virginia Tech's 41-20 win over Clemson in the 2001 Toyota Gator Bowl at Alltel Stadium on Monday.
The sixth-ranked Hokies (11-1) posted seven sacks, including two by tackle Jim Davis. Clemson's offensive line looked helpless as quarterback Woody Dantzler spent most of the day scrambling.
"Our defense played great football," said Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer. "When you play Clemson you are going to give up a few points, and we did. But we came up with big plays all game long."
After two Virginia Tech turnovers put Clemson (9-3) within scoring range, the Hokies' defense held the Tigers to two field goals.
"Our defense bailed our offense out," said Beamer. "We stopped their momentum and created momentum for us. We created turnovers and contained Woody Dantzler. Those were our keys to the game."
The Hokies set the tone for the game on their first offensive play. After Tech recovered a fumbled punt at the Clemson 23-yard line, Vick hit a wide-open Jarrett Ferguson for a 23-yard touchdown.
Virginia Tech's third offensive possession resulted in an 11-play, 58-yard drive capped by a 6-yard touchdown run by Vick.
Vick, who is expected to make a decision about his college football future within the next six days, threw for 205 yards on 10-of-18 attempts, including one touchdown. He was credited with 19 yards rushing on nine attempts.
"It felt like the old me," said Vick. "My ankle is 100 percent, and our offense functioned the way it is supposed to. There is no one that can stop us if we play the way we are supposed to."
Clemson's offense struggled to find any consistency as Dantzler was constantly under pressure from the Hokies' defensive line. The Tigers managed only 331 yards of total offense, most of which came late in the game.
Dantzler completed 15-of-32 passes for 180 yards with one touchdown. He was replaced late in the third quarter by Willie Simmons, who led Clemson on a scoring drive late in the fourth quarter to bring Clemson within two touchdowns.
"We had a score late in the game," said Coach Tommy Bowden. "But early on we could only manage field goals when we should have been scoring touchdowns. You will never catch them if you do that." Clemson rushed for just 88 yards and was tackled behind the line of scrimmage seven times.
"Our defense couldn't get to Vick with a standard four-man rush," said
Bowden. "You are trying so hard to contain Vick it effects your rush lanes, and you can't blitz too much because it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your defensive backs."
Virginia Tech enjoyed good field position all day as Clemson struggled with its their special teams play.
Still, the Tigers managed to pull within 14-10 in the second quarter after a 23-yard pass from Dantzler to Travis Zachery and a field goal with 5:45 left in the quarter by Aaron Hunt.
Zachary broke a foot on his touchdown catch, and from then on Tech dominated the game. Lee Suggs' 3-yard touchdown run gave the Hokies a 21-10 lead at the half. Suggs had 73 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries.