ATLANTA – No. 10 Virginia Tech took a significant step toward winning the ACC’s Coastal Division title with a 37-26 win over No. 20 Georgia Tech on Thursday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets, who have been the Hokies’ chief competitor for the division title every year since the ACC adopted the championship game format in 2005, were eliminated from contention. So was Miami.
Virginia Tech is now one of only two Coastal teams, along with in-state rival Virginia, still alive for the division title. The Hokies (9-1, 5-1 ACC) have a one-game lead in the loss column on the Cavaliers (6-3, 3-2) with two games remaining. The two teams face off in Charlottesville on Nov. 26.
Virginia Tech, which is aiming for its fifth division title since 2005, increased its nation’s leading road winning streak to 12. That’s a school and ACC record. Its last road loss came at Georgia Tech on Oct. 17, 2009.
Hokies sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas completed 7 of 13 passes for 209 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for a career-high 70 yards and two scores on 18 carries.
David Wilson, Virginia Tech’s junior tailback, rushed for a career-high 175 yards on 23 carries. He shook off a red zone fumble in the third quarter to notch his seventh straight 100-yard rushing game and his ninth of the season.
The Yellow Jackets (7-3, 4-3) entered the game with the best pass defense in the ACC at 185 yards per game, but they couldn’t stop the Hokies’ air attack.
Virginia Tech, which finished with 476 total yards, struck for several big pass plays, including a 63-yard touchdown strike from Thomas to senior wide receiver Danny Coale late in the second quarter. In all, the Hokies had four pass plays of 33 or more yards.
The Hokies’ defense allowed six plays of 29 or more yards against the Yellow Jackets’ unique spread option offense, but it came down with stops when it needed.
Virginia Tech held Georgia Tech’s vaunted rushing offense, which ranked second in the country with a 328 average, to only 243 yards, its second-lowest total of the season. The Hokies sacked Yellow Jackets quarterback Tevin Washington five times.
Virginia Tech held onto a thin 27-26 lead early in the fourth quarter when it made a critical fourth-down stop of Washington. Defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins was the disruptive force inside that allowed linebacker Jack Tyler to tackle Washington for no gain and create the turnover on downs.
The Hokies also came down with a big stop at the end of the first half. Georgia Tech drove to the Virginia Tech 10-yard line with 10 seconds left, but Tariq Edwards sacked Washington for a nine-yard loss to force a 36-yard Justin Moore field goal.
The game was still very much in question in the third quarter. The Yellow Jackets scored 16 straight points to erase an 11-point deficit. But after Washington scored his third rushing touchdown of the game to make it 26-21 with 4:29 left in the third quarter, the Hokies came back with 16 unanswered points to end the game.
Virginia Tech went ahead 27-26 on Thomas’ 12-yard touchdown run with 32 seconds remaining in the third quarter. He was trying to sneak forward to pick up a yard for the first down, but he plowed ahead and didn’t stop before crossing the goal line.
The scoring drive was facilitated by a foolish personal foul penalty by Georgia Tech linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu. The Yellow Jackets had Thomas sacked on third and 19 inside Virginia Tech’s 20-yard line, but they couldn’t bring him down.
Perhaps out of frustration, Attaochu took a swipe at Thomas’ helmet and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. It resulted in a first down and new life for the Hokies.
Read Nathan’s Virginia Tech blog at Richmond Times-Dispatch