Tech vs. Tech: Bee-fense foiled by own stinger
No. 10 Virginia Tech 37, No. 20 Georgia Tech 26: As shaky as both these Coastal Division contenders looked this month, tonight's big-play display was unexpected. The Hokies and Yellow Jackets combined were surrendering an average of 645 yards entering tonight's primetime tilt; 813 yards of offense were allowed in Bobby Dodd Stadium. Don't mistake that surprise for disappointment, either -- this was only the second weeknight game between two ranked teams this season, and the first since then-No. 3 LSU ground out No. 25 Mississippi State way back in Week 3. As a nation, we were well overdue for a quality matchup.
The fertile ground game expected on both sides took root and, in the case of David Wilson, flourished with aplomb. The junior tailback sailed through the Jackets' line at will, recording 170 yards rushing, a season high he'd only come close to matching in Week 1 against Appalachian State. Hopes to see a Paul Johnson team air the ball out were repeatedly dashed, as Tevin Washington attempted only 11 passes, completing five. (He might have flipped off a few more than that had his line not permitted a promiscuous five sacks.) This is not to say his performance was without entertainments. Washington rushed for three touchdowns, and if you ever played Super Mario Bros. 2 as a shorty, you'll notice his legs kick in midair just like Luigi's. Swear.
The quarterback you'll see in tonight's highlight reels is Logan Thomas, who's passed the 200-yard passing mark on multiple occasions this year, but who usually needs at least 17 completions to do what he did tonight in seven. He passed for three touchdowns and rushed for two more, which is nice if you're into that kind of thing. Danny Coale's stat line tells the story on the receiving end: Two catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. His first reception of the night was a beauty, a breakaway 63-yard scoring run that gave the Hokies a 21-10 lead. The most captivating score of the night was quieter, and stranger. Did not expect, coming in, to see the 15th-ranked pass defense in FBS give up a touchdown to a 265-pound tight end standing flat-footed just past the goal line. Virginia Tech's Chris Drager happily corrected that expectation.
The game turned on the Hokies' final possession of the third quarter. Following three consecutive scores that turned a 21-13 Jackets deficit into a 26-21 lead, Virginia Tech was faced with third-and-19, but as Georgia Tech defenders swarmed past neutral territory for the second play in a row, linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu saw fit to direct a punch straight at Thomas' helmet. A fresh set of downs was awarded, and two plays later Wison had gone 49 yards down the field on his own two feet. (The Jackets' defensive front came right through to him on that first play after the penalty and he still managed to gain five yards. David Wilson is your running back flavor of the month.) Thomas, displaying great ability to trip lightly over burly obstacles placed in his path, capped the drive himself with a 12-yard touchdown run, and the Hokies regained a lead they would not surrender again. What this means going forward: Virginia Tech controls the Coastal, and a rematch with Clemson for the conference title seems likely. Georgia Tech, instead of pulling the Hokies down level with them and two-loss UVA, falls instead to the depth of three-loss Miami, safely abandoning hope of the division crown. [BOX | RECAP]