Virginia Tech overcame a fumble on their first offensive play of the game, then held off a late rally to beat UNC 24-21 on Thursday night in frigid Lane Stadium. The Hokies improved to 10-1 on the season, with a 6-1 mark in ACC play. UNC dropped to 6-5 overall and 2-5 in the ACC.
The Hokies missed a block up front on their first play from scrimmage, which led to a Logan Thomas fumble and a UNC touchdown just over one minute into the game. Tech then rallied and took a 24-7 lead into the fourth quarter, and despite a Tar Heel rally that made the score 24-21, the Hokies held on for the victory.
Logan Thomas was 19-of-32 for 195 yards, and he threw two touchdowns with no interceptions. He also ran for 32 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target was Jarrett Boykin, who caught a career-high 10 passes for 106 yards. Thomas threw touchdown passes to D.J. Coles and Chris Drager.
David Wilson was bottled up by a stout UNC front seven and limited to just 82 yards on 21 carries. It was just the second time this season that Wilson was held below 100 rushing yards, and it broke a string of seven straight 100-yard games.
Antone Exum and Eddie Whitley led the Tech defense with 12 tackles each. Kyle Fuller had Virginia Tech’s only sack of the game. Bud Foster’s unit played very well until the fourth quarter, when the Tar Heels hit big plays down the field to get back in the game.
After falling behind 7-0 following the opening turnover, the Hokies scored their first touchdown of the game on an 18-play, 95 yard drive that took 7:59 off the clock. Tech converted three third downs on the drive, and also a critical fourth down on a quarterback sneak by Logan Thomas. He later hit Chris Drager for an 11 yard touchdown to tie the game.
The Hokies tacked on a field goal to lead 10-7 at halftime, and then went on another touchdown drive on their first possession of the third quarter. Logan Thomas finished the drive with a 23 yard touchdown run up the middle on a read option play, and the drive was kept alive by a critical pass interference call on Charles Brown on third down.
Tech finished their scoring at the end of the third quarter. A 39 yard completion to Jarrett Boykin set up a Logan Thomas fade pass to D.J. Coles in the corner of the endzone to make the score 24-7 Hokies.
Virginia Tech had this game well in hand until midway through the fourth quarter. A 29 yard Michael Branthover punt gave the Tar Heels the ball at the Tech 45, and they managed their second touchdown of the game with a Bryn Renner pass to Erik Highsmith with 7:06 left in the game. That made the score 24-14 Hokies, but the home team still seemed to be in control.
The Hokies recovered the onside kick on their next possession, but couldn’t manage a score. Branthover’s punt pinned UNC at their own 9, but the Heels hit two big pass plays in a row, advancing the ball to the Tech two yard line, and from there a Ryan Houston touchdown run made the score 24-21 with 2:32 remaining.
Yet again, the UNC onside kick was unsuccessful. The Tar Heels recovered, but the kick hadn’t traveled 10 yards, so the Hokies took over at the UNC 39. Tech tried to run out the clock, but UNC got the ball back for one last play from their own 27. Bryn Renner’s pass fell incomplete, and the Hokies won the fourth coldest game in Lane Stadium history.
With the win, the Hokies won their sixth straight game after losing to Clemson at home on October 1. The victory marks the eighth consecutive season the Hokies have won 10 games, and it was also the 250th win in Frank Beamer’s 32 seasons as a head coach.
If Virginia loses to Florida State on Saturday, the Hokies will clinch the Coastal Division and face the Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte on December 3rd at 8pm on ESPN.
Regardless on what happens this weekend, Virginia Tech will take on in-state rival UVA on Saturday, November 26th at 3:30pm. Television coverage will be announced following Saturday’s games.