No. 23 Virginia Tech 17, Boston College 7
Oct. 11, 1997
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) _ It was the kind of game only an offensive lineman could love.
Ken Oxendine had a career-high 33 carries for 122 yards as No. 23 Virginia Tech used a straight-ahead rushing attack to beat Boston College 17-7 Saturday.
Of the 63 times Virginia Tech ran the ball, 52 were up the middle.
``The line loves to play smash-mouth football ... and that's what we did today,'' Oxendine said.
Tech (5-1, 4-0 Big East) rushed for 257 yards.
``I thought that was about as tough a football game as we've seen in this stadium in a long time,'' coach Frank Beamer said.
One reason the Hokies ran so much was that their pass protection was so poor. Quarterback Al Clark threw a 50-yard touchdown pass and scored on a 42-yard run, but he was sacked four times. Last week, Miami of Ohio sacked Clark six times and upset the Hokies.
``Our pass protection hasn't been all that good lately,'' Beamer said.
The kicking game betrayed Boston College (2-4, 2-2) in the fourth quarter. A 24-yard shanked punt by Jason Malecki set up Clark's TD run. And with 3:23 left in the game, Maleki missed a 23-yard field-goal attempt that would have brought the Eagles within a touchdown.
``We lost the field position battle in the second half. We had a couple penalties on offense and two bad punts,'' Boston College coach Tom O'Brien said. ``You can't give them field position.''
The Hokies led 10-7 at halftime, and neither team generated much offense in the third quarter. Clark was sacked three times on two straight series by Chris Hovan.
The Hokies used double-teams to neutralize linebacker Erik Storz, who entered the game leading the country in sacks with nine. That left Hovan one-on-one with a blocker.
Hovan nearly had a fourth sack on Clark's TD run, but Clark managed to shrug off the nose tackle's left arm and run untouched into the end zone.
``He's a tough guy to go against,'' Hokies guard Gennaro DiNapoli said. ``That's probably the most physical game we've played all year.''
The Eagles' score in the first period was set up by a turnover, when Keion Carpenter fumbled at the BC 35 after a 20-yard interception return. Seven plays later, Mike Hemmert scored on 1-yard run. The key to the drive was a 25-yard pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Dennis Harding that put the ball on the Tech 24.
Hasselbeck, playing with a broken right thumb, was 10-for-24 for 153 yards and one interception.
``He said he felt better as the game went on, and he threw much better,'' O'Brien said. ``He was not 100 percent.''
A 60-yard pass from Hasselbeck to Mike Cloud set up Malecki's field-goal attempt in the fourth quarter.
The Hokies tied the score early in the second period on Clark's 50-yarder to cap a nine-play, 97-yard drive. On its next series, Virginia Tech drove 64 yards on 11 plays before Shayne Graham hit a 20-yard field goal with 5:41 left in the half.
Against the league's top rushing defense (98.8 yards a game), the Eagles managed 128 yards and 276 yards in total offense. Omari Walker led the Eagles with 89 yards on 16 carries, although he missed most of the third quarter after being shaken up on the fifth play of the second half.
Clark completed 7 of 12 passes for 125 yards and gained 46 yards on 10 carries.
``They wore us down. They are big, strong guys and they kept coming after us,' O'Brien said.