Leading by seven only 4-1/2 minutes before halftime, Virginia Tech didn't think it would be too aggressive after being pinned at the 2-yard line by a North Carolina punt. Offensive coordinator Scot "Lefty" Loeffler called for quarterback Logan Thomas to throw out of the shotgun.
Thomas zipped a pass in stride to receiver Willie Byrn, who had gotten behind the defense. Byrn, bum knee and all, rumbled 83 yards down the field before being taken down.
Three plays later, Thomas and D.J. Coles hooked up for their second touchdown to give the Hokies a two-score lead on their way to an easy 27-17 win against the Tar Heels.
"That's Lefty," said Byrn, who became Tech's first 100-yard receiver this year with 123 yards. "He's just a smart guy when it comes to that stuff. It'll catch you off guard. I'm excited to see what he's going to do for the rest of the year."
The Hokies snapped a dubious offensive streak against the hapless Tar Heels (1-4, 0-2 ACC), whose season is quickly spiraling out of control. It was the first time since the Duke game last October that Virginia Tech scored more than two offensive touchdowns in regulation against a team from the Football Bowl Subdivision, a streak of 10 games.
"I would say this is football team finds a way to get it done, and I like that," head coach Frank Beamer said. "We grind. It's not always smooth."
Thomas has been lately, however. He went 19 for 28 for 293 yards and three touchdowns, going interception-free for the second straight game and putting another dent in the notion that the way to beat Virginia Tech is to stack the box.
All three of his touchdown tosses were in the first half. He hit Demitri Knowles for a 45-yarder in the first quarter to start the scoring and hooked up with Coles twice to send the Hokies into halftime with a commanding 21-7 lead.
He threw his way into the record book in the process. With a first quarter completion, Thomas moved past Tyrod Taylor on Virginia Tech's career passing list with 7,308 yards. He's now third on the Hokies' career passing touchdown list with 45, three shy of Bryan Randall's school record.
It wasn't all smooth sailing for Tech's offense. The Hokies bogged down in the third quarter, gaining only 13 yards. The ground game, even against UNC's porous rushing defense (234.5 ypg entering the game), only managed 48 yards, struggling with fullback Sam Rogers out in the second half with a leg injury.
UNC almost managed to get back into the game. Trailing 21-10, the Heels went for it on fourth-and-1 at the Virginia Tech 33 early in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Kyle Fuller wasn't fooled by a play-action pass across the middle, however, ripping a Marquise Williams pass out of tight end Jack Tabb's hands for a momentum-killing interception.
The Hokies put the game away after a muffed punt gave them a short field. Running back Trey Edmunds powered in for a 1-yard touchdown, Tech's fourth of the day, to make it a 17-point game.
It wasn't a record-setting offensive day, but it was one for the Hokies to feel good about as they hit the halfway point of the season.
"Any time you get a new offensive coordinator in your system, you're not going to just learn it overnight," Edmunds said. "I guess we're really starting to see how things are supposed to look."
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