BLACKSBURG – On a day in which he became Virginia Tech’s all-time leading passer, Logan Thomas threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns to lift the Hokies past North Carolina 27-17 in an ACC game played Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium.
With the win, the Hokies moved to 5-1 overall, 2-0 in ACC play. Tech beat North Carolina (1-4, 0-2) for the eighth time in the 10 meetings between the two teams since the Hokies joined the ACC.
“This football team finds a way to get it done, and I like that,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “We grind. It’s not always smooth. It’s a great effort. Our practices have been great, and I’ve told you from the beginning that I like this group. Even though we have a bunch of young guys, they’re getting older every game.”
Despite a sluggish third quarter, the Hokies managed to put the Tar Heels away with less than five minutes remaining in the game. Nursing a 21-10 lead, the Hokies were forced to punt from midfield, but Tar Heel punt returner Ryan Switzer mishandled the A.J. Hughes’ punt, and the Hokies’ Chase Williams recovered at the UNC 17 with 6:26 left.
Six plays later, tailback Trey Edmunds barreled into the end zone from the 1. Cody Journell’s extra point was blocked, but the Hokies led 27-10 with 4:06 remaining. The Tar Heels scored on a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Marquise Williams to Quinshad Davis with 1:09 left to cut the lead to 27-17, but the Hokies’ Charley Meyer recovered the onsides kick, and Thomas took a knee to run out the clock to end the game.
It marked the perfect ending to a great day for Thomas, who needed just three yards passing to surpass Tyrod Taylor’s mark of 7,017 career passing yards from 2007-10. Thomas broke the record on a 5-yard toss to Demitri Knowles on the Hokies’ first possession.
Thomas completed 19 of 28 in the game for the three scores, and more importantly, no interceptions. It marked the second straight game in which he hasn’t thrown an interception.
“Teams are playing against our run real well, and for us, we’ve got to keep pounding and seeing what we can get there,” Thomas said. “We can’t be one dimensional. But if they’re going to load the box and give me windows to throw, then I guess that’s a challenge for me.”
“I think he made some great throws,” Beamer said. “He sits in the pocket and makes great throws. [Josh] Stanford came back from a drop and made some great catches, and Willie Byrn is still productive, but Logan’s still making some great throws. He’s tough, he’s smart, and I think the NFL definitely needs to take that guy. I’d take him if I was up there.”
Thomas got the Hokies on the board midway through the first quarter. A 77-yard drive ended when he hit Knowles on a post pattern for a 45-yard touchdown. Journell’s extra point gave Tech a 7-0 lead with 4:17 left in the quarter.
On Tech’s next possession, Thomas hit D.J. Coles for the first of two touchdown passes to his classmate. On third-and-goal from the 9, he fired a strike to Coles on a quick slant to give the Hokies a 14-0 lead with 12:56 left in the first half.
North Carolina got on the board with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Williams to tight end Eric Ebron with 9:09 left in the half, but the Hokies responded with a 98-yard drive – 83 of those yards coming on a Thomas-to-Byrn pass play. The drive ended when Thomas hit Coles for a 5-yard score that gave Tech the 21-7 lead.
Coles, who has become a red-zone threat, caught just the two touchdown passes in the game. He has 11 catches on the season, five of them for touchdowns.
“Anything to help the team win,” Coles said. “Right now, we’re on a win streak, and anything I can do to contribute to that, I’m here for the team. The red zone, that’s my area. I’m a big guy, a big target for the quarterback. That’s what I do – 25 [yards] and in. I want to play more, but that’s my package, and I want to do anything I can to help the team win.”
Byrn paced the Hokies in receiving, catching four passes for a career-high 123 yards.
On the other side of the ball, the Hokies’ defense gave up a season-high 376 yards, but the unit held the Tar Heels to 99 yards rushing and made arguably the big play in the game, stopping North Carolina on a fourth-and-1 from the Tech 33 with 13:13 left. Going for the big play, Williams tried to hit Jack Tabb down the seam, but Tech’s Kyle Fuller was alert and intercepted the ball, stopping the threat.
“I had a feeling,” Fuller said. “It just came down to reading my key. I felt the guy [Tabb] release, and I just tried to make a play on the ball. I was happy I was able to make a play.”
Williams, making the start in place of an injured Bryn Renner, completed 23 of 35 for 277 yards and two touchdowns, but threw two interceptions. He also led the Tar Heels with 56 yards rushing.
The Hokies continue conference play next Saturday with another home game, this one against Pittsburgh. Kickoff is slated for noon.
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