September 17, 2011
Coale and Hosley with big games as Tech knocks off Arkansas State
By Jimmy Robertson
Arkansas State (1-2) 70007
(13) Virginia Tech (3-0) 1673026
  • Lane/Worsham Field - 66,233
  • Passing: Logan Thomas 292 yds
  • Rushing: David Wilson 85 yds
  • Receiving: Danny Coale 128 yds

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas threw two touchdown passes, Danny Coale had more than 100 yards receiving and Jayron Hosley intercepted two passes as the No. 13 Hokies overcame an early deficit to get past Arkansas State 26-7 in a nonconference game played Saturday evening at Lane Stadium.

With the win, Tech moved to 3-0 on the season and won its first three games to start a season for the first time since 2006. Arkansas State, which has lost to Tech in all four meetings between the two schools, fell to 1-2 overall.

The margin wasn’t what many expected, as the Hokies threw two interceptions inside the Arkansas State 35 in the second half and only mustered a second-half field goal despite out-gaining Red Wolves by nearly 200 yards for the game. Still, Tech made a 16-point halftime bulge stick.

“I think we’re a team that just has to keep learning from games and keep getting better,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “I think we’ve got the foundation of a good team, but we’re certainly not there yet. We’d like to have scored more in the second half, but we threw the two interceptions, and I think we can learn from those. Overall, as a football team, we can learn and be a better team next week.”

Thomas, who completed just 8 of 20 for 91 yards at East Carolina, fared better this time around. Despite throwing two interceptions, the redshirt sophomore from Lynchburg, Va., completed 21 of 33 for 292 yards, with two touchdowns and the two picks. He easily set career highs in completions, attempts and yards.

“I want to be perfect,” Thomas said. “That’s how most quarterbacks want to be. I threw two interceptions, and I’m not happy about that, but it comes with time. I’m slowly but surely getting to the point where I want to be.”

The Hokies got off to a slow start, as Arkansas State used a 51-yard completion from quarterback Ryan Aplin to Taylor Stockemer to set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Aplin. The Red Wolves took a 7-0 lead just three minutes into the game.

But Tech scrambled back. The Hokies got a safety when officials called Aplin for intentional grounding in the end zone with 7:20 left in the first quarter. Aplin, under pressure from Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller, threw the ball away toward the Arkansas State sideline, but there was not a Red Wolves receiver in the area.

“I thought that was an important play,” Beamer said. “We needed a spark, and that was a great spark. Then we came back and got great field position. I thought that [the safety] was a big play in the game.”

The safety seemed to wake up the Hokies. Tech got the ball back as a result and went 62 yards in five plays – the final 49 of those yards coming on a short pass from Thomas to D.J. Coles, who received a great block from Danny Coale and sprinted down the sideline for a touchdown. Cody Journell’s extra point gave Tech a 9-7 lead with 5:30 left in the first quarter.

“The corner blitzed, and Danny made an excellent block on two players,” Coles said, referring to a safety who got caught up in Coale’s block on the cornerback responsible for Coles. “I just turned the corner and turned on the jets.”

The Hokies added to their lead minutes later, going on a 48-yard drive that took just four plays. A 44-yard pass from Thomas to Coale got the Hokies to the Arkansas State 4, and three plays later, Thomas found Coale again, this time for a 4-yard touchdown. Journell’s extra point gave the Hokies a 16-7 lead with 52 seconds left in the first quarter.

Tech expanded its lead toward the end of the first half, going 49 yards in 11 plays. That drive ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by David Wilson, as the Hokies opened a 23-7 lead with 4:12 left in the half.

Neither side got much going in the second half. The only score came on a 31-yard field goal by Journell with 9:49 left in the third quarter.

Tech amassed 427 yards of total offense, with most of that coming on Thomas-to-Coale receptions. Coale finished with a career-high seven catches for 128 yards and the score.

“That was just how the game went,” Coale said. “It could have easily been one of the other receivers who had some catches today, but it [the ball] went my way. We prepare in case the ball comes our way and do what we can with it. I didn’t really do anything special.”

Arkansas State did a nice job on Wilson, Tech’s star tailback. He rushed for just 88 yards on 21 carries – his first sub-100 yard game this season.

Aplin paced the Red Wolves attack, throwing for 205, but he had two interceptions – both by Hosley, who recorded his first two interceptions of the season – and Tech sacked Aplin three times. The Red Wolves finished with 269 yards of offense, but only 64 rushing.

“We want to get back to that dominant defense, and Coach [Bud Foster] has been preaching about it,” Hosley said. “The first half, we were shaky at the start. But we came back and played a great game. The defense fought hard, the front four came up big with three sacks, and the back end, we had to hold up our end. We did well, and this was a good win for us.”

The Hokies play their final nonconference game of the season next Saturday when they travel to Huntington, W.Va., to play Marshall. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.

For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Football).

For updates on the Hokies, follow Jimmy Robertson on Twitter (@jrobIHS).

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