BLACKSBURG, Va. —
It is not how you start, it is how you finish.
That was a good thing for Virginia Tech, which rebounded from a lethargic first quarter to score 21 second period points, and the Hokies rolled to a 37-0 shutout victory over Bowling Green on a windy Saturday afternoon in front of 65,632 satisfied spectators on Military Appreciation Day at Lane Stadium.
One week after being dominated in a 35-17 loss at Pittsburgh, the Hokies were facing another non-conference challenge in the Falcons, who were tied 14-14 in the second half at Florida in the season opener before falling 27-14.
“I really think we beat a good football team,” Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “I thought we did a really good job against an offense that moved the ball against Florida. They’re a good offense. This team had Florida tied up in the third quarter, I mean this crowd can play.”
After being held to 43 first quarter yards, the Hokies accumulated 184 second period yards and scored three touchdowns, all while wearing camouflage helmets to support the Wounded Warrior Project.
Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-0 ACC) outgained the Falcons 396-266, while the Hokies recorded their first shutout since a 38-0 win over Virginia last November. It was the first time Bowling Green had been blanked since 1998, a 169-game stretch that started with a 37-0 loss at Missouri.
“We just talked about playing better, getting back to the way Virginia Tech plays and flying to the football and play with intelligent reckiness,” Beamer said. “I thought we did a pretty good job against an offense that moved the ball against Florida, they’re a really good offense.”
Senior linebacker Bruce Taylor said the defense was motivated by the loss to Pittsburgh and a visit to a local veterans hospital on Friday.
“Just seeing those guys, they wanted us to go out and play hard and a lot of guys wanted to go out and play hard for those guys, these are guys who are fighting for our country,” Taylor said. “It was just a little extra motivation with that trip that we took.”
Offensively, the Hokies started slow, gaining just 43 yards in the opening quarter, even hearing the boo-birds from the crowd. Virginia Tech had nine penalties in the game, including five in the first period.
“It is always a feeling out process, you see them on film and you expect them to do something and they come out doing something different,” Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas said. “The first part of the game is always pretty tough, but we got it on track and we were good.”
Thomas had the audience cheering in the second quarter, throwing for a pair of touchdown passes to J.C. Coleman (10 yards) and Dyrell Roberts (42 yards). The junior signal-caller also added a 1-yard scoring plunge. Giles product Cody Journell converted all three extra points attempts to complete the scoring in the opening 30 minutes.
Virginia Tech outgained the Falcons 227-71 in the first half, with Bowling Green managing just 31 yards in the second period. Their one scoring opportunity turned into a missed first goal field goal attempt from 43 yards by Stephen Sein that deflected off the right upright.
That came one week after the Hokies fell behind Pittsburgh 21-0 in the opening half, surrendering 537 yards of offense to the previously winless Panthers.
“Just going back and watching the film from the Pittsburgh game and how much we really did get pushed around,” Taylor said, “we thought it was bad, but after the game and once we went back and watched the film on Monday we saw how bad it actually was.
“That was motivation because that is not us. That is not how we play defense and that is not how we are coached and we just had to come out today and show that was a fluke.”
Thomas threw for 144 yards, while Roberts led the Hokies with three receptions for 63 yards.
It was more of the same after the break, allowing many in the crowd to head early for the exits. Michael Holmes, who entered the game leading the Hokies with 100 yards on the ground in three games, broke loose on a 40-yard gain, and eventually went two yards for a touchdown.
Virginia Tech was able to accumulate 246 yards on the ground, led by Tony Gregory, who had 68 yards, while Thomas added 65. Holmes contributed 41 yards and J.C. Coleman ran for 45.
“We were just all together and working real hard as a unit and the offense as a whole,” Gregory said. “We were just playing to get the running game going and show how Virginia Tech does things and we bought into it.”
Bowling Green (1-3) did have second half scoring opportunities, driving deep into Virginia Tech territory three times. Falcons’ head coach Dave Clawson decided against field goals, but the Falcons turned the ball over on downs each time.
“We got beat by a much better football team today,” Clawson said. “We didn’t play well. At times, our defense didn’t make stops. We couldn’t sustain anything on offense. Obviously, when you get shut out it’s not a good day.
“We’re not where we need to be. We’re not where we want to be. We have a lot of work to get there.”
Journell put the Hokies up 30-0 with 13:30 left in the game with a 35-yard field goal. Virginia Tech added seven more on a 4-yard run by Martin Scales, who had the biggest block of the game on a punt that began the drive, and Journell followed with another conversion kick for the final margin.
Jack Tyler led Virginia Tech’s defense with seven tackles, while Antone Exum added an interception and Dadi Nicholas recovered a late fumble. Linebacker Tariq Edwards played for the first time since having surgery in March.
The shutout was nice, but Taylor said the Hokies just wanted to play an overall good game.
“In this age it is hard to get shutouts,” Taylor said. “You will take them whever they come, but you don’t go into a game thinking about that. You just want to play hard every play and hope everything works out.”
Up next is a visit to the home of the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., to play Cincinnati, another Big East team, which defeated Pittsburgh earlier this season 34-10.
“I told these guys after the game the feeling of winning, this feeling we have right now, we can have this every week,” Taylor said. “We can have a great week of practice, a Pitt loss or a Pitt win, it shouldn’t make a difference.
“If we go out there and perform like that every week in practice, it kind of makes Saturdays a little easier so that is enough motivation right there.”
— Contact Brian Woodson at
BLACKSBURG, Va. —
It is not how you start, it is how you finish.
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