Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

September 18, 2011

Hokies ‘white out’ Arkansas State

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Three minutes and one second into Saturday's ballgame at Lane Stadium, Arkansas State held a surprising 7-0 lead on Virginia Tech and the Hokies' fans looked longingly to their defense.

With Jayron Hosley leading the way, that defense responded to the vibes from a “White Out” crowd of 66,233 fans and helped set up a 26-7 Virginia Tech victory, maintaining the Hokies' perfect record after three games.

Hosley picked off two passes, returning them for a combined 42 yards, broke up two other passes and was credited with six tackles and one assist. He also returned three punts for 10 net yards.

“We were kind of shaky at the start,” Hosley said about the Tech defense. “It definitely does feel good to come back and make the plays you want to make.”

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said, “That's who you want to have, one-on-one, is Jayron. He plays strong, he plays with great instinct, he's fast. I think he's a heck of a player.”

Defensive teammate Kyle Fuller said about Hosley, “He has a knack for the ball. I knew somewhere down the line, he'd be making some plays.”

Bad news piled up for the Hokies at the outset. Their first drive stalled and Red Wolves quarterback Ryan Aplin capped a quick 59-yard drive by running 5 yards across the goal line to end the march.

About the same time, an announcement was made in the stadium press box that Tech's senior receiver Dyrell Roberts was out of the game with a broken left arm, incurred at the end of a 28-yard kickoff return to start the game.

Names on the depth chart suddenly became “next man up” as targets for quarterback Logan Thomas.

Virginia Tech's next drive, highlighted by a 52-yard reception by Danny Coale, halted on fourth-and-goal at the Arkansas State 1. Thomas launched a pass under pressure to fullback Martin Scales, who could not quite stretch for the reception in the end zone.

Aplin, ranked 20th nationally in passing efficiency coming into the game, tried to set up shop from that end zone. But halfway through the first quarter, he took too long, faking left and facing pressure from Tech's Fuller. Aplin desperately unloaded a pass to his own sideline, far from any eligible receiver. That was ruled a safety, cutting the Arkansas State lead to 7-2.

Beamer said, “We needed a spark, and that was kind of a great spark, no question about it. [Arkansas State] is a good team, so every momentum play, every interception we get, every safety, every momentum play, you need 'em.”

Linebacker Tariq Edwards said that once his Hokies were down 7-0, “Of course we were upset. … We just all stayed focused, knowing that we needed to go back out and play the rest of the game. That one play wasn't going to defeat us.”

About two minutes after the safety, D.J. Coles recorded his first collegiate touchdown, taking a simple bubble pass and turning it up at the sideline for a 49-yard dash to paydirt, to put the home squad ahead for good.

Coles said, “I saw Danny [Coale] make a great block on two players. I saw the grass, and just turned the corner and turned on the jets.”

Bud Foster's Tech defense forced a confused Aplin into a timeout on second down on the next Arkansas State drive. Hosley was ready a couple of plays later, intercepting Aplin's pass and returning it 28 yards to the Red Wolves' 48.

Thomas connected with Danny Coale with a 44-yard reception to the 4 yard line, then found the senior flanker behind coverage in the corner of the south end zone. With 52 seconds left in the first period, Cody Journell's point-after kick gave the Hokies a 16-7 margin.

The next two Arkansas State possessions ended with punts. Late in the first half, Coale took a reverse nine yards to the 3 and David Wilson burst across the goal line on the next play for the only touchdown of the second quarter.

By halftime, when Tech led 23-7, Thomas had already eclipsed his career high in passing yards. He mixed flares and screens with strikes downfield, finding receivers a step ahead of the defense.

Thomas threw for 292 yards, completing 21 of 33 attempts. He had two passes picked off in the fourth quarter by cornerbacks Darryl Feemster and Darron Edwards.

Beamer said the passing game in part was a reaction to what the Red Wolves defense, with its 10 starting seniors, was doing.

“We were trying to take advantage of what we thought was good for us versus them,” he said. “Their defense is very good. It's tough to constantly just run the ball at them. … You've got to get over the top on them a little bit, get some throws in there and break a tackle and pick up a few yards after that.”

The remaining score of the contest came on Tech's first possession of the second half, when Journell connected on a 31-yard field goal to cap a seven-play drive.

Journell, the Giles High School grad, had attempted a 40-yard field goal in the second quarter that smacked the right upright and bounced away.

Beamer defended Journell, a redshirt sophomore, in the postgame press conference.

“I don't want him to put to much pressure on himself,” Beamer said, anxiously pushing a hand through his gray hair. “He is a good kicker. He's got the ability to get it done. But he's going to have to start answering the bell. And he knows that.”

The Hokies ran for 135 yards, calling on Wilson for 21 carries and 88 yards. The Red Wolves managed 64 net yards rushing. Aplin was the leading ground gainer for Arkansas State, with 29 yards. In the passing game he was 16 of 36 for 205 yards but was sacked three times.

Late in the third quarter, Arkansas State got a break when Fuller was assessed a 15-yard personal foul penalty. Three plays later, he sprang unblocked from the edge of the formation to record a 10-yard blind-side sack of Aplin on third down, resulting in a punt – on which Fuller made a fair catch.

Virginia Tech held a time-of-possession advantage of a whopping 13 1⁄2 minutes more than the visitors, who were 4 of 15 on third-down conversion tries.

Coale still appeared a little stung by the performance of the offense a week earlier at East Carolina.

“We wanted to make a point, to play better,” he said. “We know we're better than last week, and we wanted to prove it.”

Fuller said, “I have trust in the offense, that they'll get it rolling, eventually. I mean, when our time is called out there, we've just got to make the plays.”

“Every week we're just coming out and getting better.”

Their next chance to prove that will be on Saturday in Huntington, playing at Marshall.

Tech talk: Edwards led Tech in tackling with five solo stops and five assists. Arkansas State's Kelcie McCray also posted 10 tackles. … Jarrett Boykin had 29 receiving yards, to move past Antonio Freeman for second place among Tech receivers all-time. Boykin is 57 yards behind the 2,272-yard record set by Ricky Scales. … The Hokies now have at least one interception in 10 straight games. … Saturday's “White Out” included white uniforms for the Hokies, topped by retro white helmets with the old T-inside-the-V logo. … Arkansas State's Taylor Stockemer led his team in receiving with 77 yards, going over 1,000 yards for his career. … A flyover by a huge military jet capped a pregame salute to the United States armed forces.

— Contact Tom Bone

at tbone@bdtonline.com

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