BCA Classic Postponed By Lightning

Monday, August 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — The deafening applause that greeted Michael Vick and Virginia Tech in their return to the football field was almost enough to drown out the huge claps of thunder being offered from above.

But with no answer for the lightning that followed, cracking the night sky at either end of the field and bringing with it sheets of rain Sunday night, Vick's much anticipated sophomore encore was put on hold.

``It's a shame. I think both teams put a lot of work into preseason practice and you were as close to teeing it off as possible,'' Hokies coach Frank Beamer said after the Black Coaches Association Classic against Georgia Tech was postponed following an hour of impressive natural fury.

``Electricity and water are two things you don't fool around with,'' Yellow Jackets coach George O'Leary said. ``In the best interest of the players, I think we made the right decision.''

The weather arrived just as the No. 11 Hokies were getting set to kick off to Georgia Tech. The thunder claps were almost drowned out by the cheering crowd of 56,276, but the lightning changes the stakes entirely.

Beamer, so intent on getting started that he didn't even see the first few bolts, got a chance to watch it during the delay.

``I have never seen that much lightning,'' he said.

Initially, the rain and even the thunder boomers and lightning were treated as part of the show by many in the crowd, but as the weather lingered and the rain increased, many eventually headed for cover.

Within 30 minutes, the field had puddles in many places and the Hokies' sideline was a virtual quagmire. After an hour, Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver emerged from a meeting to say the game was off.

Weaver said he and Georgia Tech athletic director Dave Braine would talk with game officials this week to see if it could be made up, but Braine seemed less intent on finding another chance to play the Hokies.

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

The Yellow Jackets, seeking to replace Heisman runner-up Joe Hamilton, were hoping to get their first look at George Godsey against the Hokies.

For Virginia Tech, the postponement may actually prove a benefit, even though it was heavily favored. The Hokies play host to Akron on Saturday, then travel to East Carolina for a Thursday night game Sept. 7.

``Well, we've got our warmup down pat for next week,'' Beamer joked, adding that he'll leave the decision about rescheduling up to the ADs.

It was the first weather postponement of a Division I-A game since Hurricane Georges claimed the UCLA-Miami game on Sept. 26, 1998. That game was ultimately rescheduled to Dec. 5, and the 10-0 Bruins lost 49-45 and ruined their chance to play for the national title in the Fiesta Bowl.

Weaver mentioned the first weekend in December as a possible makeup date, but the Hokies will have played rival Virginia the week before while the Yellow Jackets take on rival Georgia in another emotional contest.

Beamer said the $600,000 his school would have received for playing was earmarked for new turf and a drainage system at Lane Stadium.

``Kind of ironic, isn't it?'' he said.

Dave Smith, Virginia Tech's sports information director, said it was the first postponement he knew of in 26 years with the school.