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Virginia Tech's Chase Williams (36) celebrates after recovering a muffed punt by North Carolina's Ryan Switzer (not pictured) on Saturday in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech won 27-17.
The Roanoke Times | File October
Quarterback Logan Thomas (3) and the Virginia Tech Hokies have lost three of their last four outings.
Virginia Tech's Kyshoen Jarrett (34) carries the ball past North Carolina's Quinshad Davis (14) after making an interception Saturday in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech won 27-17.
Sunday, October 6, 2013
BLACKSBURG - North Carolina was coy all week about whether or not quarterback Bryn Renner would play after he suffered a foot injury last Saturday.
So when did Virginia Tech know that backup Marquise Williams would start in his place?
"We found out when he ran out on the field," Hokies head coach Frank Beamer said.
Williams, who the Hokies tried to recruit back in 2011, made his first career start for the Tar Heels and did well, going 23 for 35 for 277 yards and two touchdowns.
Renner, who had started 29 straight games, tested his foot in pre-game but couldn't go.
"He was throwing the ball fine, but he wasn't really mobile enough to play," UNC head coach Larry Fedora said. "He wasn't mobile enough to protect himself."
Williams' mobility, and the read option that UNC used from it, proved to be something different for the Hokies to deal with. The sophomore ran 18 times to lead the Tar Heels with 56 yards.
"It's a real change," Beamer said. "Sometimes you change quarterbacks and it's not really a big deal."
The Hokies did some prep work this week in case Williams played.
UNC finished with 376 yards, the most by a Virginia Tech opponent this year, but much of that came late when the Hokies already had a 17-point lead.
They also picked him off twice. Kyshoen Jarrett intercepted a deep ball at the end of the first half and Kyle Fuller made a play on a fourth-down pass in the fourth quarter. The Hokies have 13 picks this year, tying last year's total.
As expected, senior cornerback Antone Exum was in street clothes on the sideline Saturday.
Exum was cleared to practice earlier this week after eight months of rehab following February knee surgery, but he decided Friday to take more time to get back in game shape.
"I knew he would make the right decision of when he wants to come back," Fuller said. "I know he wants to get back. We thought it was here. He knows his body the best."
Exum did not target a return date. The Hokies host Pittsburgh next week then get a bye.
Freshman Brandon Facyson started in Exum's place and finished with four tackles and a pass breakup.
Wide receiver Willie Byrn's 83-yard catch in the second quarter was the seventh-longest in Virginia Tech's modern history.
It was the Hokies' longest since Marcus Davis' 85-yarder in last year's Pittsburgh game.
It was the third-longest non-scoring play in Tech history.
Byrn, who was limited in practice this week with a knee injury, was caught from behind short of the end zone.
"I wish he didn't have a little bit of a rusty wheel or he would have scored," quarterback Logan Thomas joked.
"If I was healthy, it would have been an extension of the goal line, and I would have gotten it," said Byrn, who caught some flak from his teammates. "That's what I'm saying."
Different o-line looks
Redshirt freshman Alston Smith, who switched from defensive to offensive line earlier this year, got his first action at left guard, coming in when Caleb Farris slid inside for David Wang during a third quarter series.
The Hokies also used a jumbo package late, with Mark Shuman coming in at left tackle and Jonathan McLaughlin going to the right side of the line as a tight end.
Trey Edmunds scored Tech's lone rushing touchdown behind that line.
The Hokies announced a sellout crowd of 65,632, their first in three home games this year. ... A.J. Hughes had a 46.1-yard average on six punts, the highest single-game total in his career. ... Cody Journell had an extra point blocked. It was the third straight game he's missed at least one kick.
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