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After slow start, Tech’s offense breaks away in 35-17 win over Wake Forest

- - Saturday, October 15, 2011

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Virginia Tech's offense needed to answer one more time to all but seal a win over Wake Forest. The Hokies' coaches called a timeout with 10:57 left in Saturday's game and talked about a play. One of the routes was a simple go pattern for wide receiver Marcus Davis, who told quarterback Logan Thomas on the sideline he felt confident he could get open.

"I'm going to win," Davis said to Thomas.

"If you win, I'm going to give it to you," Thomas replied.

They hammered out the details of their plan. Davis asked if Thomas would throw the pass toward the sideline.

"Nah," Thomas said. "I'm putting it in the end zone."

Moments later, Thomas dropped back on third down and 9 at Wake's 30-yard line. He flicked a deep ball toward Davis, who caught it on the left side of the end zone and hung on, nailing down a 38-17 victory and completing an impressive response by Tech's offense after a slow start.

"We went and did what we said we were going to do," Thomas said of the throw to Davis.

The same is true for Tech's offense. Thomas vowed after a 23-3 loss to Clemson two weeks ago the offense would bounce back. And it has in the past two games.

The Davis touchdown, which put Tech up 35-17, came on a drive covering 14 plays and 96 yards, and came after Wake cut Tech's lead to 28-17 on a 4-yard, fourth-down touchdown pass.

The Hokies trailed 10-0 after the first quarter, during which they were outgained 138-8. Thomas completed just 2-of-7 passes for 10 yards in the quarter. In the final three quarters, the Hokies outgained Wake 465-182 and Thomas was 15-of-25 passing for 270 yards and two touchdowns.

Just as impressive as the length of the game-clinching drive — another step forward for this offense — was that the 19th-ranked Hokies (6-1, 2-1 ACC) converted all four of their third downs on the possession. They were 2-of-9 before that. Thomas ran for 10 yards on third-and-10 and passed for 13 yards on third -and-8, before the third-and-9 touchdown pass.

Because of the first quarter, his final numbers were not as flawless as last week's 38-35 win over Miami, in which he completed 23-of-25 passes for 310 yards. But how the offense reacted to the first quarter mattered more to Thomas than the box score.

"I think it gives us a confidence that we can go out there and score when we need to score and score at will," Thomas said.

In the bigger picture, things got interesting in the ACC Coastal Division on Saturday, as 12th-ranked Georgia Tech lost 24-21 at Virginia. The Yellow Jackets were 6-0, 3-0. Now, every team in the Coastal has at least one league loss. The Hokies play two should-win games (Boston College and Duke) before having an off week leading into their Thursday night showdown Nov. 10 at Georgia Tech, their biggest rival recently.

The Hokies' offense was a mess to start Saturday's game, looking nothing like the group that gained 482 yards against Miami. Tech went three plays and out on its first four drives, then managed six plays for 18 yards on its fifth drive before punting.

Things looked grim for the Hokies. On Tanner Price's 79-yard touchdown pass to Chris Givens in the first quarter, All-American cornerback Jayron Hosley pulled up lame. He tweaked his left hamstring and was out for the game. His absence Saturday left Tech without four defensive starters — two of whom are out for the season.

But after that touchdown, Tech's defense locked down the Demon Deacons (4-2, 3-1). Their final six drives of the first half consisted of four three-and-outs and two four-and-outs. After the Hokies' brutal first five drives, they scored touchdowns on three of their final four drives of the half. The Hokies finished the second quarter having outgained Wake 200-25. They never looked back.

"No one panicked," coach Frank Beamer said. "Everyone kept doing their business."

• Read Darryl Slater's Virginia Tech blog at vteffect.com