Gator Bowl: Virginia Tech Takes Clemson

If the Gator Bowl was the final game of quarterback Michael Vick’s career at Virginia Tech, he went out a winner.

Vick threw for one touchdown and ran for another, and Lee Suggs ran for three scores today as the No. 6 Hokies beat No. 16 Clemson 41-20.

The game was billed as a duel between Vick and the Tigers’ Woody Dantzler. Both made plenty of dazzling plays, but Vick turned the ball over twice and Dantzler left in the third quarter.

Headed to the Pros?

Dantzler was a virtual one-man show for the Tigers after losing tailback Travis Zachery with a broken foot after 16 ½ minutes.

Dantzler rushed 18 times for 81 yards and passed for 180 and one touchdown, but was hammered repeatedly when the Hokies ran him down.

Vick was 10-of-18 for 205 yards and rushed for 19 yards.

The sophomore quarterback, who spurned the chance of turning pro a year ago, said last month that he’d be back at Tech again next season. But last week, he hinted that he might change his mind if he had a Gator Bowl performance that could make him one of the first picks in the NFL draft.

Virginia Tech (11-1), which played for the national championship last season, led 21-10 at halftime after some early help from the Tigers.

After failing to make a first down on the opening series, Tigers punter Jamie Somaini couldn’t handle a bouncing snap. He finally gained control and tried to run, but was tackled for an 8-yard loss at his 23.

On the first play, Vick hit Jarrett Ferguson down the middle, giving the Hokies a 7-0 lead. Ferguson later added a 5-yard touchdown run.

Vick made it 14-0 with a 6-yard run late in the quarter, and Suggs scored his first touchdown 2:26 before halftime, making it 21-10.

In between, Dantzler hit Zachery for a 23-yard touchdown pass that was the 1,000-yard rusher’s final play when he sustained a broken foot. Zachery watched the second half from the Tigers bench in sweats.

Tied for the Record

Suggs’ second score, on a 1-yard run in the third quarter, was set up by Vick’s 55-yard pass to Andre Davis. His third, on a 5-yard run with 3:41 to play, made it 41-20 and erased all hope for the Tigers (9-3).

Suggs tied six others for the Gator Bowl record for touchdowns in a game, and pushed his total for the season to 31, one more than the Hokies’ career record. The sophomore scored 30 of the touchdowns on running plays.

Dantzler, replaced by Willie Simmons for the fourth quarter, completed 15 of 32 and was sacked three times. Simmons also was hit hard, getting sacked on his first two plays by Jim Davis for minus 18 yards.

The victory was the first in three trips for the Hokies. The loss was Clemson’s fifth in a row in a bowl and fourth in eight trips here.