BLACKSBURG, Va. — As Virginia Tech’s Andre Davis turned upfield and broke loose down the sideline, needing to beat one more West Virginia defender for a free run to the end zone, all he could think about was how something had audibly changed in the tone of Lane Stadium.
It was 2000, and the Hokies were in the process of taking the Mountaineers to the woodshed, in large part thanks to a third quarter for the ages by Davis. The receiver had already scored on a 30-yard reverse and a 64-yard pass over the top from Michael Vick, and he’d soon finish off a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown. But one thing hung in his mind.
What the heck just happened behind me?
“I remember coming around a guy, I heard the hit, but I remember specifically hearing the crowd change,” Davis said years ago. “And I was just like, ‘I really wish I could turn around and watch and see what just happened.’”
What caused the 56,272 in attendance at Lane Stadium in unison to go, “Oooooh!’ was the block to end all blocks. Hokies special teams maven Wayne Ward leveled West Virginia linebacker Kyle Kayden on a blind-side, de-cleater of a hit — perfectly legal, impeccably timed and absolutely jarring, even upon a rewatch nearly 22 years later.
It was a textbook block during the apex of Virginia Tech’s special teams mastery. There were plenty of special teams highs during Frank Beamer’s 29 years on the sideline in Blacksburg, but Beamer Ball has arguably never been distilled more to its purest form than on a 16-second play on Oct. 12, 2000.