Tech storms back against scrappy Duke

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Tech storms back against scrappy Duke

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Logan Thomas knows what he has expected Virginia Tech football to look like this season.

He finally got to see it on Saturday, after a 12-minute beatdown by Duke put the Hokies in a 20-0 hole.

"We were able to move the ball any way we wanted to, throwing it and running it, and the defense was pretty much shutting down everything," Thomas said after the Hokies rallied from the early deficit to bury the Blue Devils 41-20.

"If we play like that, special teams on top of it, that's Virginia Tech football. That's what we need to do," he said.

Thomas threw two touchdown passes, freshman J.C Coleman ran for 183 yards and two long touchdowns, and the Hokies (4-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) played well in all three phases of the game for the first time all season.

Duke (5-2, 2-1) arrived having won four straight and seeking one more victory to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. But after the fast start, the game did more for the Hokies' expectations going forward than for Duke's.

"I think our bubble feels burst," coach David Cutcliffe said. "It hurts today. It hurts a lot."

The Blue Devils gained 150 yards in the first quarter and just 84 in the next two quarters as Virginia Tech's defense came alive, intercepting Sean Renfree twice before halftime, sacking him five times and recovering two fumbles.

Thomas and Co., meanwhile, got into their best rhythm of the season. Thomas hit Marcus Davis with touchdown passes of 42 and 47 yards, and hit Davis with a 40-yarder to set up the Hokies' first TD. Martin Scales scored that one on a 4-yard run.

Coleman later broke free for a 45-yard touchdown run, giving the Hokies their first lead at 24-20, and he added an 86-yard burst around the right side midway through the fourth quarter to close the scoring. His yardage come on just 13 carries.

"The line gave me outstanding holes to run through," Coleman said. "It was great."

Davis had five receptions for 144 yards and thought once the Hokies started clicking, Duke got timid.

"You could tell they didn't want to play with us anymore," Davis said.

It was the Hokies' most complete performance of the season, one that gives them hope following a mediocre start to the season and with a brutal stretch of games about to begin. They play at Clemson on Saturday and then have back-to-back Thursday night games -- at Miami and home against Florida State.

The Blue Devils fell to 1-40 since 2004 against the teams remaining on their schedule and need to beat either North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech or Miami to secure their bowl bid.

At the start, it looked Duke might get that victory in Lane Stadium.

After making two first downs, Renfree sent Jamison Crowder deep in one-on-one coverage with Kyle Fuller, and Crowder caught a perfect ball over his shoulder as Fuller fell down for a 62-yard touchdown. The drive took just 2:44.

The Blue Devils followed a three-and-out by the Hokies with a drive to Ross Martin's 40-yard field goal, a march aided by a 21-yard pass interference call against Detrick Bonner and a 15-yard personal foul call against Derrick Hopkins on the same play. Martin added a 28-yard field goal, and the wheels really came off for the bumbling Hokies two plays later.

Thomas threw a swing pass from his 23 to tailback Tony Gregory, who juggled the ball, allowing Blue Devils safety Jordon Byas to snatch it out of the air and take it 20 yards untouched for the touchdown.

After just 11:48, Duke led 20-0, and a near sellout crowd sat in stunned silence.

But then the Hokies "started making a lot of plays, a lot of `explosives,'" Byas said.

The Hokies' first touchdown came on the next drive, a 76-yard march highlighted by Thomas' 40-yard pass to Davis to the Blue Devils' 4. Scales took it around the left side on the next play.

The Hokies then got two big plays from their maligned defense to keep the comeback going.

Bonner's interception and 39-yard return late in the first half set up Thomas' 42-yard TD pass to a wide-open Davis 0:19 before halftime. That pulled Virginia Tech to within 20-17 at halftime.

Earlier, Michael Cole intercepted Renfree's overthrow deep in Hokies territory and returned it to the 20. Eleven plays later, Cody Journell's 37-yard field goal cut Duke's lead to 20-10.

Journell added a 41-yard field goal late in the third quarter.

College Football Playoff projections: From contender to pretender in just four weeks

College Football Playoff projections: From contender to pretender in just four weeks

There were high hopes for LSU at the start of the season. With the collection of talent the Tigers boast on their roster, there was no reason to think they could not challenge Alabama for SEC supremacy.

Even my preseason College Football Playoff projections at the start of the season had LSU as one of the four teams to make the playoff.

SEE THE NEW COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PROJECTION HERE

The Tigers' championship hopes took a hit with an opening loss to Wisconsin. Now just four games into their season, Les Miles been fired and their playoff aspirations appear to be completely dashed after a devastating loss Auburn.

With Alabama looking as dominant as ever and what was believed to be their main rival already looking down and out, who else can challenge the Tide for supremacy of the SEC? Who else joins the Alabama in the projected top four?

Find out here in this week's College Football Playoff projection.

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Jerod Evans said that he needed to clean up some things during Virginia Tech's upcoming off week.

The Hokies' fan base may be wondering what exactly that is. His play so far has been sparkling.

Evans, the Hokies' starting quarterback, threw three touchdown passes and rushed for one to lift Virginia Tech over East Carolina 54-17 on Saturday.

The Hokies (3-1) scored on their final five possessions of the first half, including all four of their second-quarter possessions, to overwhelm East Carolina (2-2) and snap a two-game losing streak to the Pirates.

Evans completed 13 of 20 passes for a career-best 282 yards and rushed for a career-best 97 more. He has thrown at least three touchdown passes in three of the Hokies' first four games and is completing 67 percent of his passes.

"I missed a couple of things here and there," Evans said. "I have a lot of things that I can get better at for sure."

Evans entered the game with an ACC-best 10 touchdown passes this season. Of more importance to Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente, he has thrown just one interception.

"I think he's pretty good," Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said of Evans. "He's been judicious with the ball and he's going to the right place most of the time. He's been pretty efficient."

Following a punt return for a touchdown by Greg Stroman and a touchdown run by Marshawn Williams that gave the Hokies a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, Evans threw touchdown passes of 24 yards to Isaiah Ford, 13 yards to Travon McMillian and 55 yards to Cam Phillips. That final score gave the Hokies a 38-0 halftime lead.

ECU quarterback Philip Nelson had 362 yards passing and two touchdown tosses to Jimmy Williams. The Pirates had 443 yards of offense, but committed three special teams mistakes, fumbled once and were sacked six times.

"We studied the film well and they had a lot of keys when they were sliding the protection," said Ken Ekanem, who had two of the Hokies' six sacks. "We had a lot of indicators and we knew when someone was going to be left one-on-one. We look forward to one-on-one matchups and pride ourselves on winning those. We did a good job of that today."

THE TAKEAWAY

EAST CAROLINA: Coming off a 20-15 loss at South Carolina and playing its third consecutive game against a Power 5 opponent, the Pirates looked a step slow and out of sorts from the opening kick. They went three-and-out on five first-half possessions. The Pirates hope to regroup now that they have finished the non-conference portion of their schedule.

"That was clearly the best football team that we have played," ECU coach Scottie Montgomery said. "The most physical. The biggest. The fastest. The strongest. The smartest. I thought they competed well in their scheme. They played great emotional football. They leaned on their crowd. They played a complete football game -- as complete as it gets."

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies dominated on special teams, scoring three touchdowns as a result of those units. Greg Stroman scored on an 87-yard punt return, and Cam Phillips blocked a punt that led to an Evans touchdown pass to Travon McMillian. A sack of ECU punter Worth Gregory in the fourth quarter led to a 1-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Brenden Motley.

UP NEXT

EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates open AAC play next Saturday with a home game against UCF. ECU blasted the Golden Knights 44-7 last season for their first win in Orlando since 2008.

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies are off next week before taking on North Carolina on Oct. 8 and will be looking to avenge last year's 30-27 overtime loss. The Hokies have won nine of the 12 meetings with the Tar Heels since joining the ACC.