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SPORTS EXTRA / COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Noel Leads Virginia Tech Win

November 18, 2001|Associated Press

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Grant Noel picked the biggest stage of Virginia Tech's season to once again thumb his nose at his critics.

Noel threw three first-half touchdown passes and No. 18 Virginia Tech turned four turnovers into 24 points to beat Virginia, 31-17, for the third consecutive season.

Noel, maligned for his inability to throw deep, connected with Andre Davis for 26-and 58-yard touchdown passes and found Jarrett Ferguson for a 17-yarder.

"It's unbelievable what you can do when you go out and execute and everyone puts everything into it on every play. We did that," Noel said.

It started with the first play, when Virginia Tech's David Pugh sacked Bryson Spinner for a 10-yard loss.

"We felt like if we brought the heat on [Spinner] and forced him to make decisions a little quicker than he wanted to, that we would have the upper hand," said Willie Pile, who had two interceptions for the Hokies (8-2).

Virginia (4-7) lost three fumbles and an interception in the first half, and each time the Hokies cashed in. They had touchdown drives of 18 and 15 yards, a 12-yard drive to a field goal and two sustained marches.

Each of Pile's interceptions stopped scoring threats. The first came at the Hokie eight in the first half, the second at the Hokie one.

"They were driving in and I think that was a momentum changer," Pile said. "It kind of sucked the wind out of them and we were able to jump on it."

Virginia got going in the second half, scoring on a two-yard run by Matt Schaub, David Greene's 35-yard field goal and Schaub's one-yard pass to Tyree Foreman with 10:53 left, but then the Hokies' defense stiffened.

The Hokies also helped themselves, scoring on drives of 63 and 92 yards in the first half. Both marches ended with Noel-to-Davis passes.

Noel was 12 for 22 for 190 yards with one interception, and freshman Kevin Jones had 37 carries for 181 yards.

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