College Football: Virginia Tech 17, East Carolina 10
Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 10, 2011
GREENVILLEó Frank Beamer remembers those rough first years with Virginia Tech. His Hokies keep making those days seem more distant with all the victories, conference championships and bowl appearances.
Josh Oglesby ran for the go-ahead 10-yard score with 7:30 left, helping No. 11 Virginia Tech beat East Carolina 17-10 on Saturday for Beamer’s 200th win at the school.
Quarterback Logan Thomas struggled in his second career start while the Hokies committed 12 penalties and two turnovers on the road in front of a rowdy crowd. Yet it was exactly the kind of physical, hard-nosed outing ó particularly on defense ó that have become commonplace during Beamer’s 25 years with the school.
There’s no arguing with the results, either. After four losing seasons in his first six years, Beamer’s Hokies have won at least 10 games for seven straight seasons and 12 times overall.
“Like I said all week, I’m a fortunate guy to have had a lot of good people around me,” Beamer said. “And the school hung with me when things weren’t so good.”
David Wilson ran for 138 yards to lead the Hokies (2-0), who completely shut down the Pirates’ high-powered passing attack and held East Carolina (0-2) to 112 total yards. That included minus-15 yards rushing, second fewest in ECU history.
“I think our main goal was to stop them from getting yards after the catch,” said Hokies defensive back Kyle Fuller, who had an interception. “It’s a team that likes to get out in space and break tackles.”
Michael Dobson ran for a 2-yard touchdown for the Pirates. But in an unusual twist, it was their defense ó among the nation’s worst last year ó that kept East Carolina in it until late.
In fact, that unit forced the Hokies into a three-and-out to get the ball back with 3:32 left. But the Pirates managed only to reach midfield, and Michael Bowman dropped a sure big-gainer near the right sideline before Dominique Davis’ fourth-down heave for Bowman fell incomplete with 1:58 left.
Davis threw for 260 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s loss to South Carolina, but he finished with 127 yards on 20-for-38 passing with an interception. The Hokies also sacked him five times, including some when he held the ball too long against the rush, while Davis overthrew open receivers several times near the sideline.
Receiver Lance Lewis, who had 14 catches for 108 yards and two scores against the Gamecocks, was held to three catches for 17 yards.
It was an all-around ugly day for the offense that averaged nearly 37 points last year. The worst moment came with about 6 minutes left in the third quarter, when Davis found Dobson over the middle for what should have been an easy 31-yard touchdown catch. But Dobson, two steps past linebacker Bruce Taylor, dropped the perfectly thrown ball.
“It looked like today we were the weakest link,” Lewis said. “But the defense really held strong for us today. We tried to pull it out at the end of the game, but we couldn’t get it.”
In fact, considering the dominance of Virginia Tech’s defense, it could have been an uglier result. But the Pirates hung in all day against the Hokies and their physical rushing attack, faltering only when they allowed Oglesby into the end zone on a 1-yard run in the third and the go-ahead score in the fourth.
The Hokies finally seemed to wear down the Pirates late. They ran 11 times on the 13-play, 89-yard drive for the go-ahead score, with Wilson running seven times for 49 yards.
“They had stopped us several times so coming back and re-establishing ourselves was important,” Wilson said. “Our offensive line and the backfield, we know we have to play four quarters. We weren’t giving up, because they played four quarters.”
That offset a shaky day for Thomas, who completed 8 of 20 passes for 91 yards with an interception. He ran for 66 yards on 11 carries to help the Hokies finish with 241 yards on the ground.
Still, the Hokies had a rough start. Their second drive pushed all the way to the 3-yard line, but two false-start penalties backed them up and Cody Journell went wide right on a 30-yard field goal.
Then, after ECU’s Michael Barbour plunked the right upright on a 53-yard kick, the Hokies committed a holding penalty to sabotage a promising drive and settle for Journell’s 39-yard field goal with 44 seconds left before the break to trail 7-3.