BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Texas A&M put more of a scare into No. 8
Virginia Tech than the rain and wind of Hurricane Isabel. Two huge
runs by Bryan Randall rescued the Hokies from all of it Thursday
Randall scrambled for 13 yards down the right sideline on
third-and-6 from the Aggies' 26 and then went 12 yards around the
left side for an insurance touchdown with 8:20 left in the Hokies'
"They both felt good," Randall said of the runs, the second of
which capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive and gave the Hokies a 28-19
"The first down was like a touchdown to me. It kept the drive
alive and gave us new life, four more plays to try to get into the
The play capped a bizarre night at Lane Stadium, on the opposite
side of the state from where Isabel knocked out power to nearly 1.5
The Aggies (2-1) did a lot of their damage thanks to the arm and
fast feet of quarterback Reggie McNeal, who repeatedly connected on
key passes or left defenders grasping at air as he turned a corner
and broke free,
But Randall's version of catch me if you can saved the night for
the Hokies (3-0) when the Aggies needed a stop to keep their hopes
"It's always disheartening when you have him and you let him
out," said Aggies defensive back Jaxson Appel, whose interception
stopped a Hokies' drive and helped Texas A&M get within 21-19 with
Once Randall gave the Hokies breathing room, the Aggies helped,
too, failing to field a pooch kickoff that Virginia Tech recovered
and turned into Kevin Jones' third touchdown of the night, an
With 5:33 to play, the outcome was sealed and the Hokies' string
of victories in games played before October reached 27, dating to
"They made the big plays when it was time for big plays to be
made," said McNeal, who was 11-for-21 for 133 yards with a
touchdown and an interception. He also ran 12 times for 47 yards,
including a 16-yarder.
"He just flat out outran us a few times," Hokies coach Frank
And the Hokies, too, helped out with a series of blunders.
They twice swarmed Aggies punter Cody Scates, once allowing him
to escape for a 15-yard run and a first down, the next time getting
called for an offsides penalty that negated a sack by James
Pressure also caused Scates to twice get off poor punts, one
setting up a short Virginia Tech TD drive, the other being
misjudged by DeAngelo Hall, recovered by the Aggies and turned into
a 24-yard scoring drive.
The touchdown, on a 15-yard pass from McNeal to Tim Van Zant,
helped quiet a crowd looking for a reason to celebrate in the wet
But the Hokies came right back, getting a 27-yard burst from
Jones to start the drive and Randall's two runs to finish it.
"He makes good decisions," Beamer said of his quarterback.
"I've got a lot of faith that things are going to work out right
Jones finished with 188 yards on 30 carries, by far his best
game of the season despite a steady rain. He scored from 1, 2 and
11 yards and said he was relieved to finally play up to his own
"I was definitely listening and hearing (criticism), but it
didn't really matter to me because I knew I could get the job
done," he said.
"I was just waiting for myself to do it."
Randall was 9-for-13 for just 63 yards and one touchdown.
McNeal directed three scoring drives of 12 plays or more before
halftime, the last one the sweetest -- and alarming for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech seemed to have the Aggies right where it wanted
them with about seven minutes left in the half. Leading 14-6, the
Hokies looked for a big play after downing Vinnie Burns' punt at
the Texas A&M 2.
Instead, it was McNeal and the Aggies that made the plays.
A pass interference penalty against Jimmy Williams on an
incomplete pass on third-and-7 gave the Aggies a first down on
their 20. McNeal hit Van Zant for 13 and 8 yards, the second on a
third-and-4 when McNeal foiled Hall's interception hopes with an
McNeal added a 16-yard run after being flushed from the pocket
and Courtney Lewis carried four times for 20 yards, the last 2 with
1:15 left making it 14-12 and quieting a sellout crowd looking to
McNeal's pass for 2 points came up short.