The Virginia Tech Hokies opened their ACC season in impressive fashion on Thursday, defeating Georgia Tech 17-10 in Atlanta.
The win improves the Hokies to 4-1 on the season and 1-0 in the ACC. It is even bigger for the Hokies, considering the Yellow Jackets were 2-0 in conference play entering the game.
Logan Thomas stepped up big for the Hokies, completing 19 of 25 passes for 221 yards. Thomas also led the team in rushing and did not turn the ball over. He matched Tyrod Taylor's school record of 23 rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
Virginia Tech scored the game's first 14 points on a short Thomas pass to D.J. Coles in the first quarter and a 5-yard Thomas keeper in the second. Sophomore wide receiver Demitri Knowles led Tech with five catches for 67 yards.
Too many times on Thursday night, Georgia Tech got pressure up the middle. Pass protection as a whole was solid, but Virginia Tech struggled diagnosing Georgia Tech blitzers all night. The running game was nonexistent. The Hokies finished with just 55 yards on 27 carries.
The Hokies have now won four straight over the Yellow Jackets. A big reason for that success is Bud Foster's ability to shut down Paul Johnson's flexbone option offense. Virginia Tech held the Jackets to just 129 yards rushing on 42 attempts. That is a meager 3.1 yards per attempt.
Foster's defense held Georgia Tech to just 198 yards rushing last year. The unit was even better on Thursday night.
Kyle Fuller set the tone for the Hokies on Georgia Tech's first possession. He was involved in the first three plays of the game and forced a Vad Lee fumble on that same drive. Fuller moved back to whip linebacker, a position he played with great success in 2011, because the Hokies wanted to get as much speed on the field as possible.
Senior defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins finished with seven tackles, including five solo stops. He consistently pushed Georgia Tech's interior linemen into Vad Lee once the ball was snapped. Luther Maddy was terrific, too. James Gayle had his usual outstanding game, although he didn't post a sack. Gayle put pressure on Lee several times, forcing him to make ill-advised throws.
The great thing about this Virginia Tech defensive line is depth. The Hokies can comfortably go eight deep and not experience a dramatic drop in productivity.
The Hokies have a senior kicker this year, but things aren't going quite so well. Cody Journell, a three-year starter and former All-ACC kicker, has missed three field goals and an extra point in his last two games. The Hokies were fortunate it didn't cost them either game.
If Journell made the short field-goal attempt against the Yellow Jackets, it would have sealed the game. Journell, who was suspended for last week's game, said a mechanical flaw caused him to struggle in Week 3 and he had fixed it.
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