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September 15, 2010

Sept. 13, 1986 - Tech passes test at Clemson

By: Jimmy Robertson

Clemson win one of best ever for Hokies

By Chris Colston

(Reprinted from Vol. 4, No. 3 edition of the Hokie Huddler)

Victor Jones (34) blocks the punt of Clemson punter (and former MLB player) Bill Spiers in the end zone and Mitch Dove (23) recovered to account for Tech’s first score in a stunning 20-14 victory over the Tigers.

Lawrence White wouldn’t say it was the biggest win for the Hokies since he’s been here. But he did call it a “dream come true.”

“I don’t know. Last year’s win at Virginia was pretty sweet, too,” he said, straightening his silk paisley tie in the postgame locker room. Then he allowed himself a smile. “But it’s really nice to come down here and finally beat this team.

“We were big underdogs, and everyone was watching it on TV. We had been beating Virginia pretty regularly, but Clemson was a different story.

“If we had lost this game, everyone would have said we were the same old mediocre 6-5 Hokies. But we knew this game could make or break our season. We didn’t come down here just to play Clemson tough. We came down here to win.”

So Tech seems to have gotten the “can’t win the big game” monkey off its back, at least temporarily. The West Virginia game will be the next big test, but the Hokies think, with their newfound passing game, they can beat anyone.

“Erik Chapman is the difference in this year’s team,” White said. “He kept us [the defense] off the field when we needed a blow.”

Chapman also gives the Hokies an offense that can score from anywhere on the field. He’s got a deep threat in Donald Wayne Snell, a sure-handed medium-ranged target in Steve Johnson, and now, a reliable third receiver in junior wingback David Everett.

Curtis Taliaferro sacked Clemson quarterback Rodney Williams in the win. The Hokies became the first team from Virginia to beat Clemson at Death Valley.

Tech is still committing too many penalties – they’ve been whistled 20 times this season for 157 yards – and the defense has allowed an average of 200 yards rushing in two games. The Hokies should improve in both of those areas as the season wears on, but one area – turnovers – will be mighty difficult to improve upon.

Chapman has thrown but one interception in two games, and that one was a Hail Mary heave at the end of the Cincinnati game. Meanwhile, the Hokies have lost one fumble all year, and that was a controversial one by Johnson, also against the Bearcats.

“When you play Clemson, there are two things you can’t do,” said Bill Dooley during the midweek press conference. “You can’t give them something easy and you can’t turn the ball over.”

Tech did neither, and came away with a win.