BLACKSBURG – As openers go, this one went perfectly for the Virginia Tech football team.
Snapping a string of three straight opening-game losses, the 13th-ranked Hokies scored on their first three possessions and dominated throughout, blasting FBS foe Appalachian State 66-13 at Lane Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
David Wilson rushed for 162 yards – three yards short of his career high – and three touchdowns, quarterback Logan Thomas threw two touchdown passes and Tech’s defense allowed a mere 293 yards, most of which came late in the game. Plus, the special teams got in the act, too, blocking a punt that was recovered by Kyle Fuller in the end zone for a touchdown.
The 66 points were the second-most points scored Frank Beamer team, coming shy of the 77 scored against Akron in 1995, and the 53-point margin of victory was the Hokies’ sixth-largest under Beamer. The game marked just the second time ever an Appalachian State team had allowed 60 points or more in a game.
“This was a really good win,” Beamer said. “Appalachian State concerned me coming in here. The threat of the quarterback and they’re a good-looking team. But I give credit to our team. I thought they were well prepared, and we played well for the most part. There were a lot of things to feel good about, but a lot of things to learn from and that’s going to be our challenge now.”
Tech’s defense opened the game by recovering a fumble on the second play of the game. ASU quarterback DeAndre Presley fumbled while trying to hand the ball off, and Tech’s Antone Exum recovered at the Mountaineers 20.
On the next play, Wilson scored on a 20-yard run to give the Hokies the lead. Cody Journell’s extra point made it 7-0 less than a minute into the game.
“I thought that was a big start,” Beamer said. “Their offense concerns you, and all of the sudden, we’re blowing up the guy and causing the fumble. Wilson has a really nice run, and we’re on the board. That was a perfect way to start this thing.”
The touchdown marked the beginning of a big day for Tech’s junior tailback. Wilson, making his first career start and taking over the reins from the departed Ryan Williams and Darren Evans, finished with 162 yards on 16 carries and scored on runs of 20, 19 and 3 yards. Behind Wilson, Tech rushed for 256 yards and finished with 518 yards of total offense.
“Hopefully, this is just the beginning,” Wilson said.
Tech scored on its first three possessions. A 28-yard field goal from Journell gave the Hokies a 10-0 lead with 8:59 left in the first quarter and then Josh Oglesby scored on a 4-yard run with 6:17 left in the first quarter.
Wilson put the game away, scoring on touchdown runs on two straight second-quarter possessions. His 19-yarder gave the Hokies a 24-0 lead and his 3-yarder gave Tech a 31-0 bulge.
Thomas, making his first career start, completed 9 of 19 for 149 yards, with two touchdowns. A 7-yard scoring strike to backup tight end Randall Dunn enabled the Hokies to take a 38-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. Thomas then opened the second half with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jarrett Boykin.
“I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but I was anxious,” Thomas said. “It [the experience] was exactly what I expected. I traveled for two years and I know how Lane Stadium is and I know how our fans are. I know how teams come out and want to play tough against us. So this was exactly what I expected.”
Appalachian State scored twice in the second half – once on a touchdown pass by Jamal Jackson to Brian Quick late in the third quarter and once on a 15-yard run by Jackson. Jackson, ASU’s backup quarterback, threw for 87 yards and rushed for 46 more, accounting for 133 of the Mountaineers’ 293 yards of offense.
Tech’s defense held the Mountaineers to just 117 yards rushing and 3.2 yards per carry. The Hokies also intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble.
“Defensively, we came out strong,” said Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, who had one of those three interceptions. “We had confidence coming in, and we had a good game plan. Coach Foster and everyone was confident in the game plan. We just had to execute, and we did that for the most part. It was good to come out with a victory, and it was good to get those turnovers and see the offense capitalize on them.”
Tech continues the non-conference portion of its schedule next Saturday when it travels to Greenville, N.C., to take on East Carolina. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.
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