BLACKSBURG – Mired by poor field position and a couple of penalties in the first quarter, Virginia Tech’s offense was stuck in neutral – 11 plays and 28 yards on its first three possessions. However, on its fourth, which actually started on its own 15-yard line after a false-start penalty, Tech went on to double its plays, triple its yardage and put the ball into the end zone for the first of three second-quarter touchdowns, which was more than enough in the Hokies’ 37-0 victory on Saturday at Lane Stadium.
“There early, we were kind of screwing things up, but nobody panicked,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “We hung in there, and I thought the offense got rolling pretty good. The thing I am proud of is we didn’t lose our composure there, but I am just so proud how they came back and got into a rhythm.
“We are kind of a work in progress and trying to find our identity, and I think we took a step forward today.”
The running backs sparked the offense’s engine into drive, including quarterback Logan Thomas, who ended the first quarter with a 14-yard scramble for Tech’s second first down of the game.
From there on, Tony Gregory carried five times for 30 yards, including a 17-yard run to put the Hokie offense into Bowling Green territory for the first time all game. Later, he added a 9-yard run, and J.C. Coleman also rushed for nine yards on the drive before capping the 13-play, 80-yard drive (90 total yards due to a pair of 5-yard penalties) with a 10-yard reception from Thomas. Gregory, Coleman and Thomas combined for 59 yards rushing on the drive.
“We’re really all together and working really hard all week as a unit, and the offense as a whole, we just planned on getting the running game going, and we just bought into it,” Gregory said. “They’ve been cycling all of us [the running backs] at practice all through the week, so it could have been anyone of us [to get the carries].
“The offensive line did a great job opening up front, and the receivers were working real hard out there on one-on-one battles, so we were just hitting holes.”
The Hokies rushed for a season-high 246 yards, while four players reached for at least 45 yards on the ground. Gregory led the way with 68 yards, followed by Thomas (65), Michael Holmes (51) and Coleman (45). It marked the first time since Sept. 12, 2009, against Marshall that Tech had four guys rush for more than 40 in a game. That game included some guys named David Wilson (165), Ryan Williams (164), Josh Oglesby (60) and Tyrod Taylor (58).
“I think it keeps all the other backs fresh, and so everyone can go out there with fresh legs,” Coleman said in reference to the platooning at running back. “It works in our favor, so I wouldn’t say it hurts us.
“I feel like the o-line really stepped up today. There were a lot of open holes out there, and as backs, we’ve got to hit the holes. Today, the offensive line did a great job opening up holes for us.”
The Bowling Green game marked the most rushing yards gained on the Tech turf since the Hokies racked up 256 yards rushing in their season opener last year against Appalachian State, with their high last season of 267 happening at Georgia Tech. Tech reached 200 yards rushing six times last year and went 6-0 in those games.
They are now 1-0 this season in such games. They only hope the rushing attack continues on its current course.
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