GREENVILLE, NC -- After the Virginia Tech offense failed to ice the game on a fourth and one late in the fourth quarter, it was up to the defense to preserve a three-point lead over East Carolina.
And as they've done so many times in the Bud Foster-era, the unit put to sleep any comeback hopes by forcing a safety. This one came in the final minutes as the Hokies escaped Greenville with a narrow 15-10 victory.
"I'm disappointed we didn't put the game away earlier," coach Frank Beamer said after the win. "But I am happy with our effort. We just have to get our execution a little bit better...like I told you last week maybe we will get more attractive as the year goes on. We are not pretty yet."
Virginia Tech has been on the precipice of losing to the Pirates in Greenville many times in recent years. But the Hokies keep finding ways to come out victorious thanks to stellar defensive play. Today, the group gave up just 30 yards of offense in the second half, and 204 for the game. They added three interceptions and seven sacks.
"We have the best defense in the nation, I think," said cornerback Brandon Facyson, who had two interceptions on the afternoon. "All of us think that. The coaches set us up with a brilliant gameplan every week. Our offense is getting there. We're working our way on getting to where we want to be, we just gotta keep pushing and work together as a team."
While the Hokies were only able to register 53 yards rushing, senior quarterback Logan Thomas threw two touchdown passes in an otherwise productive day, going 25-42 for 258 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Thomas completed 10 of 18 third downs and converted eight of those for first downs. Both of his touchdown passes erased a lead for the Pirates.
"We're getting better every week, but obviously we'd like to score more points," Thomas mentioned.
The Virginia Tech defense appeared to be lagging with an early start time, as wide receiver Bryce Williams opened the scoring just 1:39 into the game thanks to a 22-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Shane Carden over the middle. The five-play, 75-yard drive was aided by an unnecessary roughness penalty and a missed tackle on the scoring play. But the Pirates were only able to record 133 yards the rest of the way.
Later in the quarter, the Hokies were able to knot the score at seven via a 30-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Demetri Knowles. It was Knowles' first touchdown since last year against Georgia Tech, the first week of the season. The score was tied at seven apiece at halftime, as each defense collectively flexed its muscle.
In the third quarter, Warren Harvey drilled a 44-yard field goal to give ECU a lead for the second time. But Thomas, finding his groove, quickly answered by engineering a 75-yard scoring drive while completing 6-of-7 passes and finished it with a three-yard strike to D.J. Coles. Following freshman cornerback Brandon Facyson's second interception, senior kicker Cody Journell missed a 38-yard field goal, and missed another one in the fourth quarter to keep things interesting.
However, the Virginia Tech defense was unwilling to give the Pirates a fighting chance by stifling the ECU offense for the entire second half. It certainly wasn't pretty, but a win is a win for the Hokies as they improve to 2-1.
"If we could put more points on the board, that's always good," Facyson said. "But as long as we come out with a win, then that's great for us. Either way you look at it, offense or defense, we won. We just have to fix the little things. It was a dogfight, but we came out on top and that's all that matters."