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Hokies, Jackets trying to reschedule

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Michael Vick was upstaged by Mother Nature.

Lightning and severe thunderstorms rolled through the Blacksburg area Sunday night, forcing postponement of the BCA Classic between No. 10 Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.

Just as the Hokies were about to kick off, and with a sellout crowd of 56,276 cheering, thunder rumbled overhead at Lane Stadium, followed by lightning and finally heavy rains that soaked the field within 30 minutes.

Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech
Officials huddle under a tent as fans wait out a delay prior to the start of the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech BCA game. The game was postponed and not immediately rescheduled.

At 9:08 p.m., Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver announced that the game had been postponed, adding he and Georgia Tech athletic director David Braine would try to reschedule the game, perhaps on Friday, Dec. 1.

"I think the right decision was made because I think when you play on a field that bad there's a chance players will get hurt," Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. "It's a shame, though."

It was the first weather postponement of a Division I-A game since the Temple-Miami game was wiped out by the threat of Hurricane Irene on Oct. 15, 1999. The game was rescheduled for Dec. 4, with Miami winning 55-0.

The UCLA-Miami game from Sept. 26, 1998 was wiped out by the threat of Hurricane Georges. The game was played Dec. 5 -- and had national championship implications.

The Bruins, 10-0 at the time, were beaten by the Hurricanes 49-45 and lost their chance to play for the national title in the Fiesta Bowl.

But while that one was a regularly scheduled game, the Yellow Jackets-Hokies game was a 12th game on the schedule. Weaver and Braine will spend the week trying to decide whether to reschedule or just cancel the game altogether.

"We will talk about the possibility of rescheduling, of maybe playing the first weekend in December," Weaver said.

Braine said the reason he agreed to the game was to give new quarterback George Godsey some experience before the ACC schedule began. He also added that the Yellow Jackets play rival Georgia on Nov. 25.

"I don't think it's a good idea," Braine said. "Our reasons for playing a preseason game were because we had an inexperienced quarterback. He will have 11 games by then."

Braine said teams won't get the $600,000 they were promised if the game isn't played, but added: "We didn't play this game for money anyway."

Beamer said the money his school would get was earmarked for new turf and a drainage system at Lane Stadium.

"Kind of ironic, isn't it?" Beamer said.

The ADs also decided not to play the game Monday since both teams have games Saturday -- the Hokies are home to Akron; the Yellow Jackets play host to Central Florida.

Now it's the Zips who will be on the other side of the football when Vick finally takes the field to open the 2000 season. The sensational sophomore is coming off a season in which he finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting after leading the Hokies into the national title game.

The decision to postpone the game was made by both ADs, referee Dan Blum and game organizers.

When the storm hit Sunday night, players, officials and photographers dashed off the field and headed for shelter. The Yellow Jackets stood under a tent and makeshift garage, the Hokies in a small tunnel. Both teams eventually ran across the field to the tunnel leading to the locker rooms.

"I thought the Jumbotron was making the noise at first," Hokies running back Lee Suggs said, referring to the new video scoreboard. "Then I looked up and saw the lightning."

By 9 p.m., and with the rain intensifying, most of the crowd had taken shelter.

Dave Smith, Virginia Tech's sports information director, has been with the school for 26 years and said he couldn't recall a home game being delayed by lightning or postponed.

"I was really looking forward to playing this game," Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary said. "We had been called off the field for lightning before, but we had always been called back."

On Oct. 17, 1999, the start of the second half of the BYU at New Mexico game was delayed by lightning for 43 minutes.

Both teams had been in lightning delays before -- the Hokies at West Virginia on Oct. 5, 1991; the Yellow Jackets against Florida on Sept. 20, 1980.

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 Lightning storms forced the postponement of the BCA Classic.
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 An upset Michael Vick was ready to start the season on a high note.
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 Coach Frank Beamer felt it was a good decision to cancel the game.
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