BLACKSBURG — A week ago, Pittsburgh was tougher than Virginia Tech.
Logan Thomas wasn’t going to let it happen again.
Instead of ducking out of bounds at the end of an otherwise irrelevant 3-yard run in the second quarter, the Hokies’ junior quarterback lowered his shoulder and barreled over Bowling Green defensive end Charlie Walker.
“We needed something to get us going,” Thomas said. “We were a little slow off the start. It kind of sent a message. If I have to do that to get us going, then I’ll do it. Whatever we need.”
Virginia Tech needed to get its defense back in order and its running game in gear. And Bowling Green (1-3) proved to be the perfect fix.
The Hokies’ vaunted defense, embarrassed by the Panthers, took it out on the Falcons, authoring the first nonconference shutout for Tech since blanking Kent State in 2006.
The running game, unproductive for three straight games, got in gear, cranking out 246 yards and three scores and gaining 5.7 yards per attempt.
Junior tailback Tony Gregory supplanted redshirt freshman Michael Holmes as the featured back and rushed for 68 yards on 11 carries. Holmes had 51 yards and a touchdown on four attempts, and freshman J.C. Coleman had 45 yards on four rushes to go with a 10-yard touchdown reception.
But it was the punishing running of the 6-foot-6 Thomas, who at one point had blood spurting from under a broken thumbnail, that helped the Hokies’ re-establish their powerful identity.
Thomas rushed for 65 yards on 15 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge and had a career-long 26-yard gain.
“He’s a big, strong, powerful guy,” Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said.
And the Hokies’ offensive line, with sophomore Matt Arkema filling in for the injured David Wang (ankle) at left guard, played big too, putting the poor effort at Pittsburgh behind it.
“We pretty much hated the way that film looked,” senior right tackle Vinston Painter said. “Coach didn’t like it, and it doesn’t feel good sitting there having your coaches tell you, ‘You guys got pushed around.’ We’re a bunch of 300-pound men up there. For someone to say, ‘This guy is slapping you around,’ it doesn’t feel very good in your stomach. Coming into this game, we told ourselves we’re going to be the most physical team today. And we went out and did that.”
Tech held Bowling Green to just 266 total yards and only 133 yards on the ground. For the third time in four games, junior linebacker Jack Tyler led the Hokies in tackles. Tyler recorded seven stops.