There was a time in Saturday’s third quarter when Temple had a chance, but that chance didn’t last very long.
For a few moments, there were shades of the Owls’ stunning 1998 upset of a nationally-ranked Virginia Tech squad in Blacksburg, Va., but all-world quarterback Michael Vick and the Hokies escaped a repetition of history to beat Temple, 35-13.
Virginia Tech, ranked No. 3 in the nation going into last weekend, had gone up 21-0 and it looked like another blowout for Heisman Trophy favorite Vick and his Hokie teammates. The Hokies had already scored on 11-yard and three-yard Lee Suggs touchdown runs in the first quarter.
After Temple starting quarterback Mike Frost threw an interception, Vick came in and did what he does best.
Raheem Brock nearly sacked him — but Michael Vick doesn’t get sacked.
Vick almost threw an interception — but Vick rarely throws interceptions.
Then Vick ran for a first down — Vick always runs for first downs.
Vick threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Cullen Hawkins — that’s why Vick is the Heisman favorite.
It looked like Vick was going to lead his team to another effortless win, and that Temple would go down without a fight, but then Temple’s defense put up its dukes.
Vick threw an interception to Chonn Lacey, and the junior returned the ball 65 yards for Temple’s first points of the game.
Lacey’s score breathed life into the Owls and Temple went into halftime with hope, though trailing 21-7.
“What went through my mind was that we had a chance to win the game,” coach Bobby Wallace said. “We got a big play to get us back in the game.”
On Virginia Tech’s first drive of the second half, the outlook brightened for the Owls. Vick fumbled the football, giving Temple excellent field position. Frost, given the chance to jumpstart the Temple offense for the second week in a row, found receiver Charles Cobb open in the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown strike, and Temple cut the Hokie lead to 21-13.
Virginia Tech was forced to punt on its next possession. The punt went only 11 yards and Temple once again had great field position. Unfortunately for the Owls, the outcome was different this time.
A sack and an interception followed for Frost and Temple, and the game was back in the Hokies’ court for good.
They held on to beat the Owls, 35-13.
Vick rushed for 55 yards in the game, a big number for any quarterback in the nation except for the Heisman frontrunner. The redshirt sohpomore had been averaging over 100 rushing yards per game in 2000.
“I thought our kids on defense played hard for 60 minutes,” Wallace said. “They could have gotten discouraged because we didn’t do very good on offense today.
“Vick gives them a good dimension, but I thought we got after him today.”
The Owls’ defense also limited Suggs to 56 yards on 17 carries. Like Vick, Suggs also came into the game averaging over 100 yards a game on the ground.
Temple’s defense did its job, limiting Vick to 162 yards on 14-of-28 passing.
Offense was a different story, however, as the Owls were able to gain only 116 total yards.
Tailback Tanardo Sharps came into the game leading the Big East in rushing, but he managed only 19 yards on 16 carries against the Hokies. Temple’s rushing attack was worse than nonexistent, totaling -15 yards in the game.
“Tech played extremely well defensively,” Wallace said, “but we were really surprised that our offense didn’t perform any better than we did.”
Frost went 8-for-18 for 114 yards and Devin Scott, who made a brief first-half appearance, went 5-for-10 for 17 yards.
Temple dropped to 3-3 and 0-2 in the Big East with the loss. Virginia Tech remains undefeated at 5-0, 3-0 in the Big East. Due to Miami’s upset of defending national champion Florida State on Saturday, the Hokies are in position to make a return trip to national championship game at the Orange Bowl, Jan 4.