Defensive TDs fire up Hokies

Associated Press
ON TV TONIGHT
- Boston College at Virginia Tech, 7:30 (ESPN)

BLACKSBURG, Va. - The ball is snapped, thrown and intercepted, and as soon as the defensive player gets possession, his 10 teammates quickly turn offensive.

The defender closest to the ball zeroes in on the intended receiver - the player most likely to tackle the ball carrier. Every other defender puts a body on someone.

Several times a week, No. 8 Virginia Tech (7-1, 4-0) spends a few minutes at practice working on turning turnovers into touchdowns without the offense ever having to take a snap.

"With us, we want to score," said linebacker Xavier Adibi, who has scored two touchdowns in his career. "Anytime you've got a chance to get the ball, and anytime you get the ball, we want to get the ball into the end zone. We practice it all the time.

"It's no mistake why it happens in the game."

Defensive and special teams touchdowns have become two constant calling cards of the Hokies in their rise to national prominence, and when they happen in Lane Stadium, they typically set off mayhem.

Wisely, opponents spend plenty of time trying to prevent the mistakes.

"Tough defense. There's no question about that," Boston College (7-0, 3-0) quarterback Matt Ryan said as he prepared for the No. 2 Eagles' visit tonight. "Very tough defense and they always thrive on turnovers and taking the ball away from the offense."

Protective measures notwithstanding, the Hokies still have produced 72 defensive touchdowns since coach Frank Beamer arrived 21 years ago, as well as 40 special teams TDs.

Making the plays makes them feel like Hokies. Defenders often react to their first touchdown with relief, having erased a fear they would never join the club. They also hunger for the next one; 20 players have at least two defensive TDs under Beamer.

In a season when the Hokies offense has struggled, the defense often rises at the most opportune times. Victor Harris scored on a 17-yard interception return against East Carolina, giving the Hokies a 10-7 lead in a 17-7 win.

In a big game at Clemson on Sept. 29, D.J. Parker returned an interception 32 yards for a score just 1:10 into the game, Eddie Royal later scored on an 82-yard punt return and Harris returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score. The Hokies won, 41-23.

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