Mortensen’s kick block proves huge

? Virginia Tech’s football team had one tangible chance to tie Thursday’s Orange Bowl game in the second half.

But Joe Mortensen’s unblocked body put a quick end to it.

Mortensen, Kansas University’s junior linebacker, blocked a field goal with 6:31 left in the third quarter to keep Kansas up by three. It proved huge, as the Jayhawks ended up beating the Hokies, 24-21, at Dolphin Stadium.

“Coach (Bill) Young (called an) all-out block,” Mortensen said. “We’ve been practicing it. We got great penetration by the defensive line. I just turned my shoulder, slipped through and blocked it. I just dipped my shoulder like coach Young teaches us all week.”

Mortensen came out of the right side of the line and got a full body into the kick, a 25-yard attempt by Jud Dunlevy. Todd Haselhorst recovered the block, and Kansas stayed in front, 17-14.

Virginia Tech never had a better chance to take the game back.

“I felt that was an important play because it would have really tied up the game,” KU coach Mark Mangino said. “When the game’s tied, it’s a new game. As long as we had a little bit of an edge, I think our kids would continue to hang on to that.”

Mortensen is one of the small guys on the field-goal block team, which he thinks helped him.

“I’ve got a 290-, 300-pound defensive tackle right next to me, and (the Virginia Tech player) sees a 240 linebacker, so who’s he going to block?” Mortensen said. “He put a little too much effort into him, I slipped through and blocked it.”