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With his options limited, Hokies star gets ganged up on by Hurricanes, then watches the second half from sideline.
By JOE FRISARO
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 5, 2000
MIAMI -- Hurricanes defensive tackle Damione Lewis added insult to Michael Vick's injury.
Before leaving the field after Vick threw an interception in the second quarter, Lewis got in the face of the hobbled Virginia Tech quarterback and chided: "Don't choke in the big game."
As if the high-ankle sprain wasn't giving him enough problems, Vick also absorbed some ribbing by the Miami players and the 77,410 at the Orange Bowl witnessing Miami's 41-21 victory.
"I couldn't move," Vick said. "I wasn't comfortable. In my mind, I knew I wouldn't stay in there very long."
In relief, Vick lasted 19 plays over four series. The Hokies gained 99 total yards with their sophomore sensation playing. But they didn't produced any points and trailed 21-0 at halftime.
"He wasn't doing the things Michael Vick can do," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said.
After finishing 2-for-5 for 9 yards with one lost fumble and one interception, Vick probably saw his Heisman Trophy chances -- as well as national title -- hopes disappear.
Restricted by a bulky ankle brace, Vick relieved ineffective starter Dave Meyer with 2:43 left in the first quarter and Miami ahead 14-0.
It was a tough spot that got even tougher because Miami's defense took away Vick's option pitch, forcing the immobile quarterback to carry three times for 6 yards. On one option try, defensive end Jamaal Green wrapped up Vick's ankles while Lewis forced a fumble that the Hurricanes recovered on their 29. Miami capitalized on the turnover and punched in its third touchdown.
"It was a big play," Lewis said of the turnover. "Jamaal had him by the legs, and I just punched it out."
Vick's right ankle lacked the flexibility to execute an offense that came into the game averaging 42 points a contest.
"There was no rhythm," said Hokies running back Lee Suggs, who had 121 yards rushing and scored a touchdown late in the game. "He couldn't get things going the way he normally does."
Virginia Tech trainer Mike Goforth said Vick's playing status wasn't determined until Friday. By then, Beamer was committed to starting Meyer. In pregame warmups, Vick's right foot was in pain, partly because the brace was uncomfortable. About 30 minutes before kickoff, the trainers replaced Vick's right shoe, giving him one larger than his normal size 11. The bigger shoe created more room for the brace.
"You could tell on his first option run that Miami was taking away Michael's pitch man," Virginia Tech linebacker Nick Sorensen said. "You could tell he was moving pretty gingerly."
Vick said he was about 70-75 percent effective, not healthy enough to keep Tech's national championship hopes alive.
"It really wasn't so much that his foot was bothering him," Goforth said. "Michael felt he wasn't able to protect himself. In a game like this, you're always worried about the player getting reinjured."
By halftime, Beamer decided his Heisman hopeful had seen enough.
"You need a healthy quarterback to have the best chance to win a big game like this," Beamer said.
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