By JAMAL THALJI
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 12, 2000
Hokies bounce back by punishing Knights
ORLANDO -- No Michael Vick. No Andre Davis. No problem.
Virginia Tech was missing two of its brightest lights because of injuries as it entered Saturday night's contest against Central Florida, but tailback Lee Suggs shone brightest, rushing 30 times for 148 yards and five touchdowns in the Hokies' 44-21 rout.
UCF hoped it entered its season finale at the Florida Citrus Bowl with more momentum than Virginia Tech.
The Knights were riding a four-game winning streak, including a historic win over Alabama, but they wanted this to be the greatest win in their history, their first over a ranked team in eight tries. UCF also needed a win to keep its slim bowl hopes alive in front of a record 50,220.
"We were hyped, man, playing Virginia Tech, in the Citrus Bowl, with a record crowd, on senior night," said senior UCF wideout Tyson Hinshaw, who caught 10 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns. "Tonight was our bowl game."
With Vick, Virginia Tech's All-America quarterback, dressed but out with a high right ankle sprain, and Davis, the Hokies' top receiver, home with bursitis of the left foot, the Golden Knights hoped an upset was at hand.
But it was UCF's play that upset coach Mike Kruczek. The team gave up six first-half turnovers, redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Schneider found himself horizontal for much of the game, and the defense was pounded relentlessly by Suggs and the Tech offense for 313 rushing yards.
"You come away from this game with a really empty feeling," Kruczek said. "You play a great Virginia Tech team that's ranked highly and has really great athletes, and we talked about the things we had to avoid, and one of those was turnovers.
"You can't win a game like that."
Schneider completed 25 of 41 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw four interceptions, fumbled once, was sacked four times and may have sustained a concussion. He threw his last touchdown pass of the game in a haze and was knocked out for good in the fourth quarter.
"He got hit in the head. He doesn't even know his name right now," Kruczek said, then added: "I think they came in with a plan to take him out."
The game opened with Schneider driving UCF to the Tech 32-yard line, but the ball slipped out of Hinshaw's hands on a wide receiver screen. End Lamar Cobb jumped on it at the UCF 41. Suggs scored on a 1-yard run.
Schneider drove UCF right back, marching 80 yards in nine plays, including a 41-yard strike to Kenny Clark. The drive ended with Hinshaw catching a 7-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 7.
Suggs scored on another 1-yard run as Tech went up 14-7. Then cornerback Ronyell Whitaker intercepted Schneider at the Tech 38, and that led to another Suggs touchdown that made it 21-7 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second, Carter Warley's 33-yard field goal gave Virginia Tech a 24-7 lead. On the next drive, Schneider was sacked and stripped by Nathaniel Adibi, who rumbled 36 yards for another score to put the Hokies up 30-7 at the half.
Schneider threw two touchdown passes in the second half, a 24-yarder to Hinshaw and a pass that could have been intercepted if Clark hadn't wrested it from Nick Sorensen in the end zone with 3:47 left in the third quarter. Schneider threw his fourth interception of the night to Ben Taylor, who returned it 42 yards to the UCF 4, from where Suggs scored again.
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said Kruczek was mistaken if he believed the Hokies still were shaken from their loss to No. 2 Miami on Nov. 4.
"Their coach kept saying, "How are they going to get back up?' " Beamer said. "(The Knights) were the most emotional they had ever been, I guess. They had their biggest crowd they ever had here, so (to) come in here and win, I don't think we had a hangover at all."
B-CC 35, HOWARD 0: Backup quarterback Allen Suber, a former Tampa Catholic standout, completed 11 of 21 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns to help visiting Bethune-Cookman snap its four-game losing streak.
The Wildcats attacked the Bisons secondary with numerous deep passes, including a 34-yarder to Erik Lash that set up their first touchdown, a 1-yard run by Marquis Williams six seconds before halftime. Lash led the Wildcats with five catches for 115 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown.
Howard struggled to generate offense. Donald Clark, who started at quarterback in place of injured Bobby Townsend, completed 2 of 14 passes for 15 yards.
Bethune-Cookman will play Florida A&M for the MEAC title Saturday. The winner receives the conference's automatic bid to the Division I-AA playoffs.
Howard got inside the Wildcats 25 four times but missed a field goal, fumbled on a center exchange and twice turned the ball over on downs.
JACKSONVILLE 31, WAGNER 22: Gary Cooper passed for 201 yards and two touchdowns and scored on a short run for the host Dolphins.
Cooper, making his first start for Jacksonville in a month, completed 13 of 26 passes. He threw a 54-yard touchdown to Brett Palmi in the third quarter and a 15-yarder to Jonathan Turner in the fourth. He also scored on a 2-yard run on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
Wagner's Aaron Smith was 13-of-32 for 159 yards. He threw a 20-yard touchdown to Chuck Kinsley in the first quarter and connected with Daryn Plummer and Clint Signor in the second half.
Jacksonville, which allowed a season-high 42 points in a loss to Drake on Nov. 4, shut down the Wagner offense, which had been averaging 342 yards and 29 points. The Dolphins recovered two fumbles, intercepted a pass and recorded 11 tackles behind the line.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.