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Defense Bails Out Hokies in 15-10 Win Over Pirates

Defense holds East Carolina to 30 total yards in the second half, while forcing three interceptions and sacking Pirate quarterback Shane Carden seven times.

Tariq Edwards finished the game with 1.5 sacks, an interception and a tackle for loss.
Tariq Edwards finished the game with 1.5 sacks, an interception and a tackle for loss.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

After a stellar performance by the Virginia Tech defense, the offense and special teams did very little to widen the lead. The lack of success on those two fronts resulted in continued pressure on the defense, but as often is the case, Bud Foster's defense held strong

East Carolina got out to a blistering start, taking their first possession 75 yards in 1:39 for a touchdown. After an 11-yard run by Pirates running back Vintavious Cooper, Jack Tyler hit ECU quarterback Shane Carden late out of bounds on the next hit to put ECU into Tech territory. A 24-yard reception by Cooper set up the 22-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Williams.

Tech tied the game up with 3:42 remaining in the first quarter with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Logan Thomas that was placed perfectly to a streaking Demitri Knowles. The pass capped a 6-minute, 70-yard drive that was in jeopardy in the first series before Thomas broke a six-yard run on third-and-five. Thomas found Joshua Stanford for a 12-yard completion on 3-and-6 to continue the drive.

Warren Harvey nailed a 44-yard field goal for ECU with 8:49 left in the first quarter to break the deadlock and put ECU up. Tech responded on the ensuing possession with a 75-yard drive over 4:40 culminating in a 3-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Coles. Coles hauled in a 20-yard reception earlier in the drive and back-to-back plays of 10+ yards by Trey Edmunds put the Hokies in a good spot for the Thomas dump to Coles in the back of the end zone. Journell missed the extra point, making it just a 3-point game.

Journell missed a 38-yard and a 40-yard field goal in ugly fashion that could have put the game away for the Hokies. Journell missed another field goal (32-ish yards?), but Adonis Armstrong (the demigod) ran into the back of Journell's leg after the attempt to give Tech a 4th-and-1 scenario. Though Thomas was stuffed on the run, it gave ECU the ball at their own 10 instead of the 15.

Tariq Edwards and Derrick Hopkins sacked Carden on first down for a 6-yard loss and James Gayle forced a fumble in the end zone for a safety that locked the game up in favor of the Hokies.

It wasn't pretty by any means, but Tech will return to Blacksburg with a winning record. It's a good thing.

This game really did come down to the defense. The Hokies were outstanding on that side of the ball, forcing three interceptions and sacking Carden seven times.

Quick thoughts

  • Logan Thomas passed Tyrod Taylor for the most completions at Virginia Tech for a quarterback. Despite what your feelings on Thomas my be, it's still a big accomplishment.
  • Thomas was 25 of 43 (58%) for 258 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Carden completed 19 of 31 (61%) for 158 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Neither quarterback had great stats, but I prefer Logan's TD:INT ratio.
  • The running game is nonexistent right now. Tech averaged just over 1.6 yards per carry and though the ECU defense did an excellent job of controlling the running game, the holes just weren't there for Edmunds/Mangus/Caleb/Thomas.
  • Hope that Josh Hawkins, the ECU player that was carted off the field in the third quarter, will be okay. It looked like a tough hit to the head and thankfully he was moving his arms and legs before leaving the field on the stretcher.
  • As of now (the unofficial box score), Tech sacked Carden seven times on the day. James Gayle and J.R. Collins had two each (including Gayle's sack that forced the fumble for the safety), while Tariq Edwards had 1.5, Jack Tyler had one, and Derrick Hopkins had a half. The one by Hopkins/Edwards pinned ECU at their own four and forced the Pirates into passing, allowing Gayle to close it out.
  • Hats off to Gayle, Edwards and Brandon Facyson. Facyson had a great game, picking Carden twice and I can think of at least two other instances in which he was in position for or dropped a pick. Gayle was strong all game long and forced several early or bad throws as he was in Carden's face all game. Edwards pulled in an interception and a half sack late in the game while making several other key plays on Vintavious Cooper, stopping him for a loss of a yard on a screen and limiting him to three yards on a run.
  • Willy Byrn emerged as Logan's favorite target in tight situations. Byrn racked up seven catches for 63 yards and picked up three first downs for the Hokies. Demitri Knowles also played a solid part, coming up with eight catches for 99 yards and a touchdown.
  • After D.J. Coles' performance over the first two games left receivers coach Aaron Moorehead less than pleased, Coles showed up to play today. Coles pulled in three passes for 39 yards and a touchdown.
  • Cody Journell was bad bad bad today. Missed an extra point, a 38-yarder, 40-yarder and the 32-ish yarder that didn't count. Field goals from that distance are no guarantee by any means, but the uglyness off the kicks is what was most disheartening.
  • That's all I've got for now. I think we come away from this game with a feeling of " I mean...what?".
  • Look for more content soon and feel free to use this as a thread for the rest of the college football day.