for this game

Virginia Tech holds off East Carolina in emotional opener

Sep 2, 2007 - 12:49 AM BLACKSBURG, Virginia (Ticker) -- Virginia Tech finally got back to football. And after stalling initially, Sean Glennon and the rest of the Hokies eventually took care of business.

Glennon overcame some early jitters and passed for 245 yards while Virginia Tech's defense flexed its muscles as the ninth-ranked Hokies grinded out a 17-7 victory over East Carolina on Saturday afternoon.

The contest marked the first time football was played in Blacksburg since the tragic events of April 16, when a student killed 32 people before taking his own life in what was the deadliest shooting in modern American history.

"I thought our fans and the Hokie Nation did their part, and we tried," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "Our players played hard, and though sometimes we didn't play really well, I thought it was a great atmosphere in there."

Beamer, who essentially has served as a school spokesman in the five-month aftermath of the campus shootings, seemed relieved to have finally played through the long-awaited season opener.

But the Hokies coach also admitted his team has a lot of kinks to work out prior to next week's clash with second-ranked Louisiana State.

"I think everybody was eager to get this game in," Beamer said. "Thank goodness we were able to win it over a very good football team, but now it's time to learn from it and be better next week."

After a tear-filled pregame ceremony in honor of the victims, the Hokies appeared somewhat distracted by the overwhelming outpouring of emotion at Lane Stadium.

One of the biggest culprits was Glennon, who was intercepted by linebacker Pierre Ball on Virginia Tech's first play from scrimmage. It was a precursor for a sloppy offensive performance, as the Hokies managed just 278 yards of total offense - including 33 on the ground.

"We're not magical healers or anything," Glennon said. "The most we can do is go out and show that we're giving every ounce of effort for the fans, for the families, for this community."

But the Hokies' star-studded defense - which led the nation last season in the fewest yards and fewest points allowed - answered the call, allowing just 261 yards of total offense.

The defense gave Virginia Tech (1-0) the lead for good with 3:07 remaining in the first half when cornerback Victor "Macho" Harris intercepted Brett Clay at the ECU 17-yard line and took it back to the end zone to give the Hokies a 10-7 advantage.

"Whenever I get to touch the ball, I'm thinking end zone," Harris said. "And I'm pretty sure everyone our team is thinking the same way - that's our mentality.

"We're not trying to be average and we're not trying to be good - we're trying to be great. Whenever we have an opportunity like that, we're going to make the best of it."

After stumbling through a scoreless third quarter, the Hokies' offense finally broke through with 13:07 left in the contest when Glennon hooked up with tight end Sam Wheeler for a 21-yard touchdown strike, capping a seven-play drive and pushing the lead to 17-7.

"It was such an emotional state out there on the field," Wheeler said. "It's a great feeling to come out with a victory."

Glennon completed 21-of-31 passes while Wheeler finished with seven receptions for 81 yards - both career highs. Virginia Tech's star running back Branden Ore struggled, however, rushing for just 70 yards on 23 carries.

"Anybody can be the man in any game and have the opportunity to make catches," Wheeler said. "I wasn't expecting to come out with those stats. I was just trying to get out there and play hard, help the offensive line get good protection for our quarterback."

Justin Harper hauled in a career-high five receptions for 64 yards for the Hokies, who improved to 19-2 in home openers under coach Frank Beamer.

Patrick Pinkney was solid but unspectacular for ECU (0-1), completing 14-of-25 attempts for 115 yards while rushing for 48 yards on nine carries.

Ironically, the Pirates looked like the inspired team in the first half.

Trailing, 3-0, with three minutes remaining in the opening quarter, ECU silenced the capacity crowd of 66,233 when linebacker Quentin Cotton forced Ore to fumble and safety Jerek Hewett made the recovery at the Pirates 48.

The Pirates carried that momentum to the offensive side of the ball, as Pinkney orchestrated a nine-play, 52-yard drive capped by Chris Johnson's 2-yard TD plunge 37 seconds into the second quarter.

Virginia Tech was forced to punt on its next three offensive possessions, but the Lane Stadium crowd finally was given a reason to cheer on Harris' interception return.

Although Pinkney continuously dodged Virginia Tech's pass rush, the junior could not help ECU generate any points in the second half.

Despite ECU's offensive shortcomings, Pirates coach Skip Holtz was pleased that his team participated in the nationally televised contest.

"It was a special day," Holtz said. "It was neat for us to have an opportunity to be a part of it."

Dominique Lindsay ran for 50 yards on just 10 carries for the Pirates, who collected 142 yards on the ground and controlled the football for nearly 32 minutes.

"I give East Carolina credit - they did a good job," Beamer said. "We certainly need to look at what we did and why it wasn't successful, but I think it's one of those times that you look at, learn from and get better.

"I don't question anyone's effort - I don't think effort is going to be an issue. We just need to look at it and see where we go from here."








  • NCAAF FINAL
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    EAST CAROLINA 0 7 0 0 7
    VIRGINIA TECH (9) 3 7 0 7 17 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: VIRGINIA TECH - FG, JUD DUNLEVY 25 YD, 10:32.
    VIRGINIA TECH 3-0
    2ND QUARTER: EAST CAROLINA - TD, CHRIS JOHNSON 2 YD RUN (BEN
    HARTMAN KICK), 0:37. EAST
    CAROLINA 7-3
    VIRGINIA TECH - TD, VICTOR HARRIS 17 YD
    I

    Sep 1 3:15 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD VIRGINIA TECH
    SAM WHEELER 21 YD PASS FROM SEAN GLENNON
    (JUD DUNLEVY KICK)
    EAST CAROLINA 7
    VIRGINIA TECH (9) 17 13:07 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech(9)Sep 1 2:39 PM


  • NCAAF
    EAST CAROLINA 7
    VIRGINIA TECH (9) 10 0:00 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Sep 1 2:30 PM


  • NCAAF HALFTIME
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    EAST CAROLINA 0 7 7
    VIRGINIA TECH (9) 3 7 10 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: VIRGINIA TECH - FG, JUD DUNLEVY 25 YD, 10:32.
    VIRGINIA TECH 3-0
    2ND QUARTER: EAST CAROLINA - TD, CHRIS JOHNSON 2 YD RUN (BEN
    HARTMAN KICK), 0:37. EAST
    CAROLINA 7-3
    VIRGINIA TECH - TD, VICTOR HARRIS

    Sep 1 1:36 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD VIRGINIA TECH
    VICTOR HARRIS 17 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN
    (JUD DUNLEVY KICK)
    EAST CAROLINA 7
    VIRGINIA TECH (9) 10 3:07 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech(9)Sep 1 1:25 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD EAST CAROLINA
    CHRIS JOHNSON 2 YD RUN
    (BEN HARTMAN KICK)
    EAST CAROLINA 7
    VIRGINIA TECH (9) 3 14:23 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech(9)Sep 1 12:50 PM


  • NCAAF END, 1ST QTR
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    EAST CAROLINA 0 0
    VIRGINIA TECH (9) 3 3 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: VIRGINIA TECH - FG, JUD DUNLEVY 25 YD, 10:32.
    VIRGINIA TECH 3-0

    Sep 1 12:42 PM


  • NCAAF
    FG VIRGINIA TECH
    JUD DUNLEVY 25 YD
    EAST CAROLINA 0
    VIRGINIA TECH (9) 3 4:28 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech(9)Sep 1 12:30 PM
  • 15
    roots
    dabinks Added 5 roots

    East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech(9)Sep 1 12:01 PM
  • 10
    roots
    blueeyes Added 5 roots

    East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech(9)Sep 1 12:58 AM
  • 5
    roots
    airehcs Added 5 roots

    East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech(9)Aug 31 8:43 AM