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Logan Thomas threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns for Tech.
Virginia Tech's Kyshoen Jarrett carries the ball against the East Carolina at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C., on Saturday.
East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden hands the ball off to Vintavious Cooper against Virginia Tech at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C., on Saturday.
East Carolina running back Vintavious Cooper carries the ball against Virginia Tech at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C., on Saturday.
Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas throws a pass against East Carolina at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C., on Saturday.
Virginia Tech's D.J. Coles (18) celebrates a touchdown in the third quarter against East Carolina at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C., Saturday.
Virginia Tech's Joshua Stanford (5) pulls down a pass from quarterback Logan Thomas over East Carolina's Detric Allen (4) for a gain of nine yards in a the fourth quarter at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C., Saturday.
Virginia Tech's Trey Edmunds (14) is stopped after a gain of one-yard by East Carolina's Damon Magazu (11) and Desi Brown (23) at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C., Saturday.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. — After East Carolina raced 75 yards down the field to score a touchdown in a minute and a half on the game’s opening drive, Virginia Tech’s defense returned to the sideline, greeted by a frothing-at-the-mouth Bud Foster.
What’d the defensive coordinator say?
“Uhh … I don’t even think I can say it,” defensive end James Gayle said. “I might lose character points if I say it.”
Whatever the specifics were, the message got through. Virginia Tech shut down a high-powered East Carolina offense in a 15-10 win in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday, helping the Hokies (2-1) escape despite a mediocre offensive effort and a forgettable kicking day.
Foster’s crew had seven sacks, 11 tackles for a loss, three interceptions and a safety against a wide-open Pirates attack that scored 83 points the first two weeks against Old Dominion and Florida Atlantic.
“Best defense in the nation, I think,” said freshman cornerback Brandon Facyson, who had two interceptions. “All of us think that.”
There’s certainly a case to be made after Saturday, when the Hokies held East Carolina to 204 yards. Tech limited the Pirates to only 30 yards and three first downs in the second half.
“They played lights out,” Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas said.
That’s five straight opponents that Tech has held to 217 yards or fewer. You have to go back to the North Carolina game last year — 10 games ago — to find a team that gained at least 350 yards against the Hokies.
It bailed out an offense that only managed to score a pair of touchdowns and kicker Cody Journell, who had the worst day of his career.
The Pirates (2-1) stuffed the box, holding Virginia Tech to 53 rushing yards, essentially daring the Hokies to beat them through the air. Thomas had some success doing that, throwing 43 times for 258 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, with a few more he was fortunate not to have picked.
He threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Coles with 4:09 left in the third quarter, lobbing a ball over the defense to the back of the end zone after a play-action fake to make it 13-10.
That’s when Journell’s kicking woes started. The senior pulled an extra point wide left, keeping the lead at three. He’d miss two more field goals, from 38 and 40, to keep the game close.
An interception by linebacker Tariq Edwards near midfield in the fourth quarter set up the Hokies to put the game away. They stalled, however, and Journell missed a 32-yarder low and left, but he was bailed out by a running into the kicker penalty.
“This honestly is the worst game I’ve ever played in my whole career,” said Journell, who apologized to the team afterward.
Rather that kick the field goal to go up six after being given a second chance, Tech went for it on fourth-and-1 from the ECU 10. Thomas was stuffed on a sneak, giving the Pirates a brief glimmer of hope with 2:04 left, down three and with 90 yards of field ahead of them.
It ended quickly. Quarterback Shane Carden was sacked on consecutive plays, the second by Gayle in the end zone for a safety and 15-10 lead. The ensuing onside kick failed to go 10 yards, giving the Hokies possession and the game.
Carden, who threw for 615 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two games, was only 19-for-31 for 158 yards and three picks Saturday.
“I think the defense played tremendously today, keeping in check a tremendous quarterback,” said Gayle, who played despite separating his shoulder in the first half. “I feel like he can be a guy who can make a lot of plays. He made plays today, but just not enough to beat the Hokies.”
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