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East Carolina's upset win is kind of Hokie

August 31, 2008|From the Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer was beaten at his own game.

Just when it appeared "Beamer Ball" was about to bail out a sluggish offense again Saturday, it was East Carolina, not Virginia Tech, that came up with the big special teams play.

And after T.J. Lee blocked a punt and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown with 1:52 left in a 27-22 upset win over the 17th-ranked Hokies, Beamer and the Hokies were stunned.

"It hurts to lose on a blocked kick at the end," Beamer said.

Now Beamer knows how so many of his opponents have felt, as the Hokies lost for the first time in 18 games in which they blocked a kick. Even a defensive touchdown wasn't enough as Tech's hopes of returning to a Bowl Championship Series game took a big hit on opening weekend.

"There's no excuse for that," Beamer said of Lee's block.

The win was another milestone for Coach Skip Holtz, who was recently given a new six-year contract after rescuing the Conference USA program from tough times.

"It's a story of a group of young men that have come together and said, 'We're tired of losing. We want to accomplish something special,' " said Holtz, who has led the Pirates to consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1999-2000. "They're working very hard for that on the field and I'm very proud of them."

After Patrick Pinkney's three-yard touchdown run with 3:36 left cut East Carolina's deficit to 22-20, the Pirates stopped the Hokies' struggling offense and quarterback Sean Glennon. Lee burst through unblocked, smothered Brent Bowden's punt with his left hand, scooped up the ball on one bounce and ran in for the winning touchdown.

"It hit my arm. I was just looking around to see if anyone else could scoop and score," Lee said. "But I got a good bounce and came right to my hands."

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