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Big First Half Lifts Virginia Tech Over North Carolina, 27-17

Logan Thomas set a new school record for passing yards in a career.
Logan Thomas set a new school record for passing yards in a career.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech started very strongly with Logan Thomas throwing for 230 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. That is a real sentence in the year 2013.

But the offense was largely ineffective in the second half. That is a more common sentence in the year 2013.

Thomas's 45-yard touchdown completion to Demitri Knowles gave the Hokies the lead with under five minutes to play in the first quarter. The play was set up after a 17-yard strike to Willie Byrn on first down gave the Hokies the ball on the UNC 45. Thomas then placed a ball into wide open space for Knowles to haul it in after a blown coverage by the Tar Heels.

D.J. Coles notched the second touchdown of the day for Virginia Tech as he caught a 9-yard pass from Thomas on 3rd-and-goal. Tech drove 73 yards on 12 plays and converted on three third down situations (including the touchdown).

North Carolina pulled to within seven as noted giant Eric Ebron pulled in 6-yard pass from Marquise Williams to cap a 75-yard drive. Earlier on the drive, Quinshad Davis took a pass 40-yards to give UNC the ball in Tech territory. Later, Marquise Williams rushed straight ahead on 4th-and-1 to continue the UNC drive.

A few drives later, UNC nailed a beauty of a punt (this is the ACC, remember) that was downed at the Virginia Tech 2-yard line. No matter, as Thomas hit Byrn for an 83-yard completion to put the Hokies at the UNC 15-yard line. Thomas then completed a pass to Sam Rogers for 14 yards to put the ball at the just shy of the endzone . A false start penalty pushed the ball back to the five, but Thomas rolled out to the right to find Coles for his second touchdown of the game and give Tech a 21-7 lead at the half.

North Carolina added a 36-yard field goal in the third quarter to cut into the lead and the Tar Heels' defense stifled the Hokies in the second half. After an ineffective drive in the fourth quarter, A.J. Hughes punted the ball away to UNC's Ryan Switzer. Switzer muffed the punt and Chase Williams recovered the ball at the 16-yard line. Trey Edmunds rushed the ball five times to cross the line to put the Hokies up 27-10. Journell's PAT kick was blocked.

UNC added another touchdown late in the game as Williams completed a 24-yard pass to Davis on 4th-and-10 with about a minute to play in the game.

Of note during the game is that Logan Thomas became the all-time leading passer for the Hokies. Thomas now has 7,308 yards through the air, passing Tyrod Taylor's mark of 7,017. Thomas is now in first place for passing attempts, completions and yards. Bryan Randall holds the Tech record for touchdown passes with 48, just three ahead of Thomas.

Quick thoughts:

  • Offensive line opened some sizeable holes on the first drive, allowing Trey Edmunds to pick up a first down over two runs straight up the middle. And other than a few runs by Coleman, that was it. The run game has been non-existent. The pass blocking by the line has been fairly good this year, but the run blocking? That's another story. Some of it could go on the running backs, of which there's really no standout. But when there's not much room to run, how does one start to stand out? Tech running backs (excluding Thomas) ran for 53 yards 22 carries. This needs fixing.
  • Thomas finished the day with 293 yards and the three touchdowns. He completed 67.9% of his passes, with most of those incompletions coming in the second half when the rhythm of the offense was severely lacking.
  • Every Fuller brother needs to have like 8 kids each, send all of them to Virginia Tech to play football. I'm not even joking.
  • James Gayle had a strong performance today. He had a tackle for loss on third down and later covered the best tight end in football pretty effectively. After the incomplete pass to Ebron, the Tar Heels punted and the Hokies scored on the ensuing drive. Gayle was a menace, hitting Williams several times and forcing UNC to double-team and grab him as much as possible. I freaking love the fact that teams can try to prepare to stop J.R. Collins and James Gayle can step up. Or prepare for Gayle and Collins steps up. The defensive line is dangerous on every snap. And that's not an exaggeration.
  • D.J. Coles: touchdown magnet.
  • Willie Byrn is definitely emerging as a playmaker. He's pretty consistent with his hands and is good at creating separation. I think his emergence has been part of what has helped Coles re-establish himself as well. All around, the receiving corps has made great progress since that opening game against Alabama.
  • I wasn't thrilled with how the Hokies closed out the game. Lots of lax coverage and sloppy tackling. Could it be exhaustion? Sure. I know my ass didn't play 60 minutes in the sun, running and hitting people as hard as I possibly could. But it almost seemed like after the Edmunds touchdown they got the feeling of "we have this wrapped up". I'm sure Chris has more to say. Chris?
  • Tech's defensive backs just continue to make plays. Kyle Fuller with an interception on 4th down (that had he missed, it could have been a touchdown) and Kyshoen Jarrett pulling in one earlier in the game. Kendall Fuller had several solid wrap up tackles, including a tackle for loss on a play out in the flat.
  • I still don't know what to make of this win. Offense was outstanding in the first half, but the second half was atrocious. Jekyll and Hyde team, really.