ATLANTA -- For the first time all season, a determined, deliberant offense took the field for Virginia Tech. And thanks to more dominant, disciplined play from its defense, the offense delivered.
Logan Thomas produced arguably his most productive game in the past season and a half, and the defense stifled the Georgia Tech offense all night, resulting in a 17-10 victory. After averaging nearly 500 yards of offense and 345 yards on the ground, the defense allowed just 273 total yards.
Thomas was extremely efficient, going 19-25 for 221 yards and also rushed for over 50 yards, recording two total touchdowns. However, it would be ignorant if one would excuse the performance of Bud Foster's defense; they dominated an offense that virtually ran through each opponent they had faced. Turnovers early on helped.
"I think we have a mentally tough football team, a physially tough football team," coach Frank Beamer said. "What we've done over the last 12 days, three games, two of them away from Blacksburg, against three good teams...this team here tonight is really good. And to come in here on a short week and not much rest, the kids said we don't want any excuse. We're going to go down here and get it done and that's what we did."
On just the third play of the game, Virginia Tech caught a great break as the Yellow Jackets fumbled an exchange. Senior cornerback Kyle Fuller pounced on the ball and the Hokies' offense quickly went to work.
Two plays later, senior quarterback Logan Thomas found senior wide receiver D.J. Coles across the field, moving right to left. Thanks to a downfield block by redshirt freshman wide receiver Joshua Stanford, Coles strolled in for a 21-yard touchdown catch.
Thus began a night in which Thomas would play through pain. He revealed after the game that he has an abdominal strain, though it didn't keep Thomas from throwing for 221 yards and running for another 58 yards.
"It's always nice to jump on these guys early," Thomas said. "You know if you can do that, you have a really good shot at beating them, just because of how well they run the football."
Virginia Tech's defense came up big again on the ensuing drive, when freshman cornerback Brandon Facyson jumped a route and somehow, got his hands under the ball on the sideline on a dive. After review, Facyson stayed in bounds and the call stood.
Offensively, Thomas got off to a hot start. He completed all six of his passes, for 82 yards. Finishing a 91-yard drive he started off of Facyson's interception, Thomas kept the ball, bowling his way up the middle for five yards and a touchdown, confirmed by an official review for a 14-0 lead with 11:25 left in the first half.
The Yellow Jackets tried to get back in the game. On the following drive, Georgia Tech completed a 41-yard pass, from quarterback Vad Lee to wide receiver DeAndre Smelter. But the Hokies' defense held and forced a fourth and 20 for Georgia Tech. That resulted in a 49-yard field goal by Harrison Butker with 7:21 to play in the first half and cut the lead to 14-3.
Thomas got rolling again, upon getting the ball back. On a designed run, he bolted up the middle for a 26-yard run, after his first incompletion of the night, a pass in the direction of full back Sam Rogers as he was flushed out of the pocket. The drive fizzled out a few plays later, leading to a Virginia Tech punt.
Georgia Tech soon got some momentum, when off his back foot and facing a rush, Lee heaved a 40 yard pass to Robert Godhigh, to the Hokies 40 yard line. The Yellow Jackets kept moving the ball and running the clock. They capped off a 14-play, 80-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run by running back David Sims to knife into Virginia Tech's lead at 14-10 with 3:16 to go in the third quarter. Just as impressive, it took 8:12 off the clock.
The Hokies went four-and-out on their ensuing drive, handing the ball right back, but the Yellow Jackets did likewise. Virginia Tech got a bit of momentum going after a punt gave the Hokies field position at the Jackets' 48 yard line. Thomas fired a 15-yard pass to freshman tight end Kalvin Cline, but the offense couldn't do much from there. Senior kicker Cody Journell then hit Virginia Tech's first field goal in its last seven tries to push the lead to 17-10 with 10:25 to go.
The Hokies caught a break though, when at their own 33 yard-line, the Yellow Jackets were stopped on fourth and two with 8:17 to play. Thomas went right to work, hitting Stanford for a 17-yard pass. But the drive stalled and Journell's kicking woes returned. He pushed a 25-yard field goal wide left with 5:37 to play.
"We've just gotta do our job and we've gotta let him do his," Thomas said. "I'm not worried about it. Obviously, we'd love to have the points, but we've gotta have the mentality of, we've gotta score touchdowns."
But the VT defense was able to keep Georgia Tech off the scoreboard in two consecutive drives to win the ballgame. The Hokies improve to 4-1 on the season while the Yellow Jackets fall to 3-1.