|Bowling Green (1-3)||0||0||0||0||0|
|Virginia Tech (3-1)||0||21||6||10||37|
BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas threw two touchdown passes and ran for a touchdown, and the Hokies’ defense pitched its first shutout of the season, as Tech rebounded from a loss at Pittsburgh with a 37-0 blanking of Bowling Green in a nonconference game Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium.
With the victory, Tech moved to 3-1 overall on the season. Bowling Green fell to 1-3 and was shut out for the first time in 169 games.
For the first time this season, Tech’s offense ran the ball with some consistency, as three runners rushed for more than 50 yards, and the Hokies amassed a season-high 246 yards on the ground. Backup tailback Tony Gregory gave the Hokies a nice lift, rushing for a game-high and a career-high 68 yards on 11 carries.
“I thought we had some explosive plays, and I thought Tony Gregory showed some speed out there,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “I thought J.C. [Coleman] showed some stuff. We’re getting there. We’re a work in progress, and there’s no question about that. But I thought we took a step forward today. Then the defense getting the shutout, and we made a few plays on special teams … I’m really pleased with this win.”
After staggering through most of the first quarter, the Hokies got it going toward the end of the quarter. Tech marched 80 yards in 13 plays – arguably its best drive of the season so far – and scored when Thomas found Coleman in the flat. Coleman did the rest, taking it in from 10 yards out, and Cody Journell’s extra point gave the Hokies a 7-0 lead with 9:25 remaining in the first half.
The Hokies’ defense forced a three-and-out on Bowling Green’s next possession, and then the offense went back to work. Taking over at its own 44 after Michael Holmes’ 15-yard punt return, Tech marched 56 yards in just four plays. Thomas threw his second touchdown pass of the day when he fired a 42-yard scoring strike to Dyrell Roberts, and Journell’s extra point gave the Hokies a 14-0 lead with 6:42 left in the first half.
The Hokies added one more score right before halftime. Thomas polished off a 62-yard Tech drive with a 1-yard plunge, and Journell’s extra point gave the Hokies a 21-0 lead with 1:10 left in the first half. That was the score at the break.
“We got our downhill running game going really well, and that just makes it easier on me and the passing game and the receivers as well,” said Thomas, who completed 11 of 26 for 144 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. “All in all, just the way we played on offense, that’s the way we need to play every week.”
Tech didn’t stop in the second half. On their first possession of the half, the Hokies went 61 yards in seven plays. A 40-yard run by Holmes got the Hokies to the Bowling Green 5, and two plays later, Holmes finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. Journell missed the extra point, but the Hokies took a 27-0 lead with 8:58 left in the third quarter.
The 40-yard run by Holmes was the Hokies’ longest of the season. They also got runs of 26 yards (from Thomas), 24 (from Gregory) and 17 (from Coleman), sparking an offense looking for big plays.
“We needed that,” Beamer said. “We needed a day where we had some [big] plays, and I thought the offense was very efficient and came out in the second half against the wind and went right down the field. I was proud overall at how we came back. There early, we were screwing things up, but no one panicked. We hung in there, and I thought the offense got rolling pretty good.”
Meanwhile, Tech’s defense held the Falcons to 266 yards of total offense, a lot of those coming after the Hokies’ first-team unit was out of the game. The Hokies sacked Bowling Green’s two quarterbacks just twice, but picked off Matt Schilz once and forced the combination of Schilz and Matt Johnson into a 14-for-42 day.
The shutout marked the 26th for the Hokies under current defensive coordinator Bud Foster. Bowling Green’s best chance to score came on its second possession of the game. The Falcons drove to the Tech 25, but Stephen Stein’s 43-yard field-goal attempt clanked off the right upright. Bowling Green got deep into Tech territory on a couple of other possessions, but head coach Dave Clawson elected to go for it on fourth down each time, as the Falcons’ kickers have made just one field goal all season.
“Just going back and watching the Pittsburgh game and seeing how much we did get pushed around, we thought it was bad after the game, but once we watched the film on Monday, we saw how bad it actually was,” Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor said. “So that was just motivation to come out and play defense the way we’re coached.”
The Hokies finished with 396 yards of total offense. Tech’s final two scores came on a 35-yard field goal from Journell and a 4-yard touchdown run by Martin Scales – his first career touchdown.
The Hokies hit the road for their next game, traveling to Washington, D.C., to play Cincinnati. The kickoff time has yet to be determined.
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