BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech got a couple of big plays on special teams that led to touchdowns, and the Hokies jumped out to a 28-0 lead en route to a 42-7 victory over Austin Peay in a nonconference game Saturday at Lane Stadium.
With the win, the Hokies, coming off a thrilling overtime victory over Georgia Tech on Monday night, moved to 2-0 on the season. Austin Peay fell to 0-2.
“You don’t ever take winning for granted,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “You’re appreciative of every one you get. We’re going to enjoy it, but we’re going to learn from it because I know there are some things we can do better. I think there are some things we did well. But being a consistent football team … we’re still working in that direction.
“That’s the way we’ve got to go. We’ve got some really good players and really good kids, and we’ve got to keep working to put this thing together.”
The Hokies were a little slow out of the gate, fumbling the ball on their first play of the game and then punting on their next two possessions. But a big play by Kyshoen Jarrett got them going.
A 46-yard punt return by the sophomore gave Tech a first-and-goal at the Austin Peay 6, and three plays later, tailback Michael Holmes scored on a 2-yard run. Cody Journell’s extra point gave the Hokies a 7-0 lead with 2:38 left in the first quarter.
“I was just doing my job,” Jarrett said of his return. “I was doing what I had to do. I got some great blocks, and that [his return] set us up for the touchdown.
Special teams helped Tech score its next touchdown as well. Tony Gregory blocked the punt of Austin Peay’s Ben Campbell, and the Hokies took over at the Austin Peay 42. A five-play drive ended when Tech quarterback Logan Thomas scored on a 1-yard sneak, and Journell’s extra point gave the Hokies a 14-0 lead with 5:35 left in the first half.
Gregory’s blocked marked the second of his career – both against FCS opponents. A year ago, he blocked a punt in the season-opening win over Appalachian State. He also scored a touchdown late in the game that may mark the redshirt junior’s best career performance. He has battled knee injuries throughout his career including this past spring when he missed spring practice while recovering from an ACL surgery.
“The injury kind of set me back,” Gregory said. “But I’ve worked real hard, and every time I touch the field, I want to show what I can do.”
Tech grabbed a 21-0 lead late in the first half, as the Hokies finally got their offensive moving after switching to their two-minute, hurry-up phase with 1:32 remaining in the half. They drove 71 yards in seven plays, and the drive ended with Thomas finding Corey Fuller over the middle. Fuller did the rest, scoring on a 30-yard reception and run. Journell’s extra point gave Tech a 21-point bulge at the break.
“I don’t know what it was,” Thomas said of the offense’s slow start. “I think it was just feeling the other team out. It’s something that we’ll fix soon.
“I give Austin Peay credit. They made us do some things we didn’t want to do from the start. We got better throughout the game, which you need to do. That’s something we can build upon.”
Tech really put the game away in third quarter by scoring on back-to-back possessions. The Hokies took a 28-0 lead on another touchdown run by Holmes, this one from 9 yards out, before Austin Peay got on the board. The Governors made their best drive of the day, going 78 yards in six plays and scoring on a 10-yard run by Terrence Oliver. Stephen Stansell’s extra point cut the lead to 28-7 with 5:45 left in the third.
But the Hokies responded with a 72-yard march. That drive ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to tight end Randall Dunn to put Tech up 35-7 late in the third quarter, and Tech’s staff started substituting liberally from that point forward.
Gregory scored the Hokies’ final touchdown on an 18-yard run – the first touchdown of his career – to account for the final margin.
Thomas enjoyed a solid day for the Hokies, completing 15 of 23 for 212 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions, before coming out of the game after the third quarter. But the Hokies struggled to run the ball. Tech finished with 187 yards rushing, but Marcus Davis led all Tech rushers with 48 yards on two reverses. Holmes rushed for 40 yards and two touchdowns.
Wesley Pitts accounted for most of Austin Peay’s offense, rushing for 110 yards on 22 carries. The Governors finished with just 221 yards of offense.
Most of the Tech contingent agreed that the best part of this week was that it was over. Coming off the Georgia Tech win Monday night, the Hokies were playing their second game in five days, and now get to settle into a more traditional routine.
“The last time we did that [played two games in five days], we were 0-2,” Beamer said, referring to losses to Boise State and James Madison to start the 2010 season. “So at least we’re 2-0. It was a hard week and was a tough game against Georgia Tech. It just takes a lot out of you … It’s not easy playing two games that quickly.”
The Hokies hit the road for the first time this season when they travel to Pittsburgh next weekend for a Saturday date with the Panthers. The kickoff is slated for noon.
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