BLACKSBURG - Virginia Tech once again got an outstanding performance from its defense, and the Hokies also got big plays in other phases of the game as they pounded Georgia Tech 51-7 on Saturday afternoon in an ACC match-up of two unbeaten teams at Lane Stadium.
With the win, the No. 4-ranked Hokies improved to 4-0 overall on the season, 3-0 in ACC play. Georgia Tech, ranked No. 15 in both polls, fell to 3-1, 1-1 in the league.
Simply put, the Hokies played their best game this season and in years, scoring touchdowns in all three phases of the game. Tech's defense - ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense coming into this game - held Georgia Tech to a lone touchdown and actually outscored the Yellow Jackets, with two interception returns for touchdowns. Linebacker Xavier Adibi and defensive end Chris Ellis both returned picks for scores, spearheading a dominating defensive performance in which Tech allowed just 217 yards, forced three turnovers and registered two sacks.
Tech's offense and special teams got in the mix, too. Tech defensive back D.J. Parker returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown on special teams, and offensively, the Hokies got touchdown runs from Mike Imoh and Cedric Humes and a touchdown pass from Marcus Vick.
"I think this is a football team that is relentless," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "We just kind of keep the pressure on you in all phases of the game, and that's what I like about this group."
Tech kept the pressure on the Yellow Jackets from the start, getting on the board quickly in this one. The Hokies scored on their second possession, marching 50 yards in four plays, with the drive ending on Vick's 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff King. Brandon Pace's extra point gave the Hokies a 7-0 lead with 8:58 left in the first quarter.
Tech added to it a little more than five minutes later as the special teams got into the act. Georgia Tech drove to the Hokies' 18 and lined up for a 35-yard field-goal attempt by kicker Travis Bell. But King - who plays on the field-goal block squad - knifed in between two linemen and blocked it. Parker picked up the loose ball and sprinted 78 yards down the Georgia Tech sideline for a touchdown that started the onslaught.
"The ball just came right to me," Parker said. "I was fortunate. I knew if I just got the ball, then no one was going to catch me."
"We had a block last year against West Virginia and that changed the game," Beamer said. "It's momentum and points. There's just no bigger play in football than when you block a kick. Instead of them getting three, we got seven and that's 10 points there. That gave us momentum."
A Pace field goal, from 40 yards out, gave Tech a 17-0 lead, and then the Hokies all but put the Yellow Jackets away near the end of the first half. With 4:29 left in the first half, Vick led Tech on a 66-yard march that ended when Imoh scored on a 7-yard run. Pace's extra point gave the Hokies a 24-0 lead heading into the locker room.
In the second half, the defense took care of things. Adibi, a redshirt sophomore from Hampton, Va., picked off a Reggie Ball pass near the end of the third quarter and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. Then on the Yellow Jackets' next possession, Ball was picked off again. This time, Ellis grabbed it and the big defensive end from Hampton, Va., lumbered 29 yards for a score.
"When we [the defensive ends] do get a chance to drop [in coverage], we take it seriously," Ellis said. "That's the outcome sometimes. When we get a chance, we got to make the best of it and I was fortunate to be able to make a play."
Vick again led the Hokies offensively as the redshirt junior from Newport News, Va., completed 13-of-18 for a career-high 223 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. Vick has thrown just one interception in 74 attempts this season.
Imoh led the Hokies in rushing with 55 yards on 11 carries. King and David Clowney caught three passes each for 46 and 47 yards, respectively.
Ball, Georgia Tech's quarterback, started against the Hokies after missing last weekend's game with viral meningitis. He completed just 11-of-27 for 143 yards, with one touchdown and the two interceptions.
The Hokies step out of the ACC next weekend, traveling to Morgantown, W.Va., next Saturday for a non-conference tilt with the West Virginia Mountaineers. Kickoff is slated for noon, with ESPN televising the game.