No. 18 Virginia Tech Gets by Ohio, 28-7, for its Second Victory of 07
Sept. 15, 2007
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -Despite all the hype surrounding his first career start at Virginia Tech, Tyrod Taylor didn't try to be a superhero for the No. 18 Hokies.
Instead, he was poised and mistake-free - just what Virginia Tech needed as it tried to shake off a 48-7 debacle and set its sights on an Atlantic Coast Conference title.
They got started with a 28-7 victory against Ohio on Saturday.
"I know they weren't asking me to be Superman or anything," the freshman said after throwing for 287 yards and running for the touchdown that gave the Hokies the lead with 3:38 left in the third quarter.
His job in his third college game, he said, amounted to, "Just go out there and have fun and run the plays they were calling for me."
That he did it without any glaring errors was impressive.
"We were hoping we'd be able to contain him some and maybe he'd make some freshman mistakes," Ohio coach Frank Solich said. "We had a couple of breaks early, a couple of turnovers, but as the game went on, he settled in and played well.
"He actually played composed, I think, from the start."
Inserted into the lineup in place of Sean Glennon to energize the running game and help mask the deficiencies in the offensive line, Taylor limited his running and completed 18 of 31 passes. His TD came on a 6-yard draw play that made it 14-7.
"He's got tremendous poise," quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain said. "He's just got a knack. I wish I could say it was coaching, but it's just a natural ability he has."
Taylor's biggest play came on the first play of the go-ahead drive when he picked up Branden Ore's fumble at the Hokies 45, the only one of three Tech didn't lose.
Eight plays later, his touchdown gave Virginia Tech the lead and its defense, maligned after allowing 859 yards in its first two games, remained unrelenting.
The Bobcats (2-1) gained just 114 yards and got their only points on a 26-yard drive set up by Eddie Royal's muffed punt in the first half. Ohio spent most of the second half trying to get out of its own territory and only got as far as midfield.
Ohio's five first downs were the fewest allowed by the Hokies under Beamer.
Beamer singled out linebackers Vince Hall (14) and Xavier Adibi (11) for special praise after they combined for 25 tackles and three of the Hokies four sacks.
"Those two guys are going to demand that we're good on defense," he said.
And Beamer wasn't the only one who noticed, either.
"It's hard to simulate that type of team in practice," running back Kalvin McRae said. "Those guys flew around all game and made plays when they had to."
The game was the first of three straight at home that the Hokies should win, but the flair fans expected when they cheered as Taylor trotted onto the field for the first time never materialized. Kenny Lewis seemed to benefit the most, running for touchdowns of 13 and 44 yards, the latter making it 28-7 with 6:13 left.
By then, Hokies coach Frank Beamer's 200th career victory was assured, but not without giving the coach a lot to worry about before the schedule gets tougher.
"I don't think this football team is as good as it's going to be," Beamer said.
Ore, limited to 98 yards rushing in the first two games, finished with 82 on 18 carries and scored on a 1-yard run, but rarely looked like the slashing player who ran for more than 1,100 yards and scored 17 touchdowns in essentially 10 games in 2006.
Half his yards came on runs of 24 and 16 yards on separate drives.
"We made progress, but we're still not where we need to be," he said.
The Hokies have two more weeks to improve. They play William & Mary next weekend and then North Carolina before playing at No. 20 Clemson on Oct. 6.
Taylor was 5-for-6 for 49 yards and hit five different receivers on the Hokies' lone first-half scoring drive. Two of the completions came on third-and-long, and Lewis took it the final 13 yards off the left side to tie it at 7-all 5:42 before halftime.
The Hokies also fumbled twice in the first half.
The first came when Josh Morgan was hit as he pulled in a pass at the Bobcats' 5, the ball popping into the arms of Ohio's Landon Cohen. The second came when Royal muffed a punt at his own 26 and Ryan Senser recovered, setting up Ohio's TD drive.
McRae, who scored four times last week as the Bobcats rallied to beat Louisiana-Lafayette, rushed five times for 20 yards on the drive and caught a 6-yard pass that turned into a huge play when Brandon Flowers drew a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
That set Ohio up at the 14, and McRae did the rest, scoring on a 4-yard run.