Posted: 12:41 a.m. Friday, Sept. 27, 2013
The underdog Virginia Tech Hokies made clear how things were going to go on the first possession of the game, when four plays in, Kyle Fuller broke into the backfield and forced a Vad Lee fumble, setting the Hokies up on the Yellow Jackets' 27-yard line. Two plays later, Logan Thomas found D.J. Coles on a 21-yard pass and Coles jogged into the end zone. From that point on, the Hokies had control of the game, though some moments were more tenuous than others.
The hole deepened for the Yellow Jackets on their next possession, which lasted 5:45, featured a strip and lucky recovery by the Jackets on the second play, five penalties and eventually a controversial interception by freshman corner Brandon Facyson.
After exchanging punts on their next possessions, the Hokies put together a 10-play, 91-yard drive that ended on a Logan Thomas plunge at full stretch for a 14-0 advantage. Georgia Tech, however, responded on their next possession, kicking a field goal to get on the board. That drive was highlighted by a 41-yard Lee pass to DeAndre Smelter on a Detrick Bonner blown coverage.
After three consecutive punts by the team, Georgia Tech went for it on fourth down and were unsuccessful, giving the Hokies the ball and only 60 yards to go. After a completion and a timeout, Thomas heaved the ball into the back of the endzone where it was batted down. The Hokies took the 14-3 lead into half.
In the second half, the Virginia Tech offense stalled, allowing the Yellow Jackets to go on a 14-play, 82-yard drive that included a fumble that bounced out of the hands of two Virginia Tech defenders and back to a Yellow Jacket and a Detrick Bonner pass interference call in the end zone, and ended with a 2-yard David Sims plunge to cut the lead to 4. Fortunately, that's as close as the defense let them get. After another pair of exchanged punts, the Hokies put together an 8-play, 26-yard scoring drive on a 39-yard Cody Journell field goal.
The Virginia Tech defense held on the next possession, and facing 4th down and 2 from their own 33-yard line and over 8 minutes remaining, Paul Johnson rolled the dice and lost, as the Tech defense stuffed the fourth down run. But after four plays to run clock, Cody Journell missed a 25-yarder, the first miss from under 30 yards in his career. That gave the Yellow Jackets a fighting chance, as did Detrick Bonner's second needless pass interference call on the next possession, which set them up right around midfield. But that was about as much as they could accomplish, as on 4th and 13 from the GT 42, Lee heaved a ball up that was intercepted by Kendall Fuller, which ended all chances of the comeback.
The Hokies out-gained the Jackets 276-273 and were competitive in the time of possession category, controlling the ball for 28:38. Thomas started 9-of-9 passing and finished a very strong 19-25 for 221 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, his first such game this season without a turnover. He also rushed for 58 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. All of this after not taking a single snap in practice all week with what Thomas called, an abdominal strain.
The defense held the Yellow Jackets to just over half their average yards per game (273 yards compared to their normal 484.7) and just over a third of their typical rushing total (129 compared to their average coming in at 345.3).
The Hokies forced three turnovers and committed none themselves, but were unable to get the running game going, totaling 55 yards on the ground, 58 of which were from Thomas. Thomas, in fact, was responsible for 279 of the Hokies 276 yards. Additionally, problems in the kicking and return games continued, but with Thomas playing like he was back in 2011 and the defense playing at a ridiculous level, there were far more positives in this one than negatives. It hasn't been pretty, but Tech is off to a 4-1 start, a record that nearly anyone within the fan base would've taken five games in if asked before the season. And if history has anything to say about the Hokies, it's that the road to the ACC Championship Game now comes through them in the Coastal Division.
For more Virginia Tech football coverage, including more analysis of this game and the match up with North Carolina, Gobbler Country is your Hokie headquarters. Stay put and you won't miss a thing.