Nov. 10, 2011
ATLANTA (AP)— Virginia Tech’s towering quarterback Logan Thomas proved to be extremely difficult to tackle as No. 10 Virginia Tech took a huge step toward the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, beating Georgia Tech (No. 21 BCS, No. 20 AP) 37-26 Thursday night.
The 6-foot-6, 254-pound sophomore accounted for five touchdowns, while David Wilson rushed for a career-best 175 yards as the No. 10 Hokies eliminated 20th-ranked Georgia Tech from the ACC race.
“When you get to November, you want to be playing for something,” said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer. “You want to be playing for championships. And these guys have put us in that position.”
Thomas threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores. Wilson had his seventh straight 100-yard game, already the longest streak of Beamer’s quarter-century as coach.
The teams went back and forth through the second and third quarters, scoring on eight of nine possessions in one stretch. But Virginia Tech (9-1, 5-1 ACC) took advantage with ten points in the fourth quarter.
The Yellow Jackets (7-3, 4-3) were eliminated from the Coastal Division race, while Virginia Tech can assure its fifth division title in seven years by winning the next two games.
Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington ran for three touchdowns, but the Hokies took the lead for good on Thomas’ 12-yard run in the final minute of the third quarter. The play was typical for the big QB, who lowered his head and bulled his way to the end zone.
“He’s a load,” Beamer said.
Added Thomas, “We just keep battling and battling.”
The Yellow Jackets decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 at his own 31. Washington tried to get it on a keeper, but he was stopped about a foot short.
“I felt like we needed to score,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “I thought we could make a yard and we didn’t.”
From there, Virginia Tech moved in and converted their own fourth-and-1, but that was an easier to call with make with Thomas to carry it. He made his way for a 5-yard gain, then hooked up with Chris Drager for his first career touchdown, a 14-yard pass on third down that made it 34-26.
“We’ve faced some good ones,” said Georgia Tech linebacker Julian Burnett, who gave away 8 inches and 32 pounds to the opposing quarterback. “Probably not as big and strong as that guy.”
Cody Journell sealed the victory, knocking through a 23-yard field goal with 3:02 remaining.
“When you get two good football teams together, you’re going to have some momentum swings like that,” Beamer said. “I’m glad we got the last one.”
After a wild final minute to the second quarter, in which the teams combined for three scores that left Virginia Tech with a 21-13 lead, the Yellow Jackets took the second-half kickoff and drove it right down the field.
Washington broke off a 35-yard run and also benefited from a personal foul penalty on Jack Tyler, who whacked Embry Peeples as he was running out of bounds, sending him flying toward the Yellow Jackets bench while yellow flags flew in from all directions. Washington finished it off with a 1-yard touchdown run, but he was stuffed on a 2-point conversion to leave Georgia Tech trailing 21-19.
No one, it seemed, could stop anyone at that point, but Virginia Tech stopped itself. With the Hokies driving for another score, Wilson had the ball stripped away by Burnett and Isaiah Johnson recovered at the 16 for the Yellow Jackets.
Back came Georgia Tech, reclaiming the lead with lightning-quick 84-yard drive that took only seven plays. Peeples went down the sideline for a 39-yard run and Washington nearly took it in with a 29-yard gain, before finishing it off with his third TD of the night on a 1-yard dive.
That would be the last hurrah for the Yellow Jackets, who were coming off an upset of then-unbeaten Clemson that sent fans storming the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Hokies extended their ACC-record road winning streak to 12 in a row, which is currently the nation’s longest run of success away from home.
The winner of this game has gone on to take every Coastal Division title and Virginia Tech controls the race now. Rival Virginia, with two ACC losses, is the only team that still has a chance to catch the Hokies.
“We worked all season to work our way back in the ACC,” Washington said. “It’s just a letdown. But there’s nothing we can do now but go out and try to win the next two.”
Virginia Tech was up 14-7 before a back-and-forth finish to the half.
Georgia Tech drove for Justin Moore’s 41-yard field goal with exactly one minute left. After the ensuing kickoff, Thomas threw deep to Coale on the very first snap. The receiver beat Louis Young, cut back to avoid Rashaad Reid and dove over the goal line after a desperation trip by Rod Sweeting for a 63-yard touchdown.
But the Yellow Jackets weren’t done, either. Washington connected with Stephen Hill on a 41-yard pass and Moore booted through another field goal on the final play of the half, this one from 36 yards to cut the Hokies’ lead.