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Virginia Tech regains toughness in rout against Bowling Green
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."
Thomas' run helped spark the Hokies (3-1) to their first of five touchdowns as Virginia Tech rebounded from the Pitt loss with a 37-0 win over the visiting Falcons on Saturday at Lane Stadium.
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.
"We just talked about playing better, getting back to the way Virginia Tech plays," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "Flying to the football and playing with intelligent recklessness."
After giving up more than 100 yards to a tailback in back-to-back weeks, the Hokies all but eliminated Bowling Green's Anthon Samuel from the stat sheet. Samuel finished with 32 yards on nine carries. The Falcons' leading rusher Saturday was redshirt freshman Andre Givens, who picked up 55 yards on two carries, with 47 coming on one play against Tech's backup defense in the fourth quarter.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Hokies' consistently-slow-to-start offense got rolling. Coleman scored a 10-yard touchdown on a pass in the flat from Thomas with 9:25 left in the second quarter, capping the drive that included Thomas's shoulder-lowering 3-yarder.
Less than three minutes later, Thomas hit senior wide receiver Dyrell Roberts for a 42-yard score, putting Tech up 14-0 with 6:42 left in the half.
"Once we caught our groove, there was no turning around," Thomas said.
The Hokies added a 1-yard score from Thomas just before the half to go the locker room up 21-0. In the second half, they got short scoring runs from Holmes and senior Martin Scales and a 35-yard field goal by Cody Journell.
Read more about the Hokies at Times-Dispatch.com.
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