Alabama’s Christion Jones scored touchdowns on a punt return, kickoff return, and reception, negating a strong effort by the Virginia Tech defense in 35-10 win by the Crimson Tide in the 2013 CFA Kickoff Classic.
Jones ripped off a 72-yard punt return for a TD the first time Alabama touched the ball, following a Virginia Tech three-and-out to open the game. He also added a 94-yard kickoff return in the second quarter and a 38-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
Alabama had a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown by Vinnie Sunseri, giving the Tide defense and special teams 21 points to the Hokies’ 10.
The special teams and offensive miscues by the Hokies overshadowed a strong defensive effort. Virginia Tech held Alabama to just 206 yards of offense, the lowest total for the Tide since they gained only 208 in their Sugar Bowl loss to Utah following the 2008 season.
Virginia Tech limited Alabama to 96 yards rushing on 38 carries (2.5 ypc) and had three sacks of A.J. McCarron. McCarron, who led the nation in passing efficiency last year and completed 67% of his passes, was just 10-of-23 (43.5%) for 110 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT by Kyle Fuller .
Alabama had just 97 yards of offense in the first half, which ended with the Tide up 28-10. Alabama played conservatively on offense the rest of the way, picking up one more touchdown for the final score of 35-10.
Unfortunately, the Virginia Tech offense, in particular redshirt senior QB Logan Thomas , was even worse than Alabama and McCarron. VT had just 212 yards, and Thomas, the victim of multiple drops by his receivers, was just 5-of-26 (19.2%) for just 59 yards, 1 INT and 0 TDs.
In addition to the drops, Thomas missed some open receivers, the most critical being a wide-open Demitri Knowles early in the second quarter, with the score 21-7. Knowles was well behind the defense on a go route and would have scored easily had Thomas hit him in stride, but Thomas overthrew it.
The bright spot for the Hokie offense was freshman running back Trey Edmunds , who carried the ball 20 times for 135 yards and a touchdown. Edmunds broke right up the middle for a 77-yard TD run late in the first quarter to turn a 14-0 deficit into 14-7. Edmunds was physical in the running game, picked up positive yardage on almost every run, and even without the 77 yard run, averaged 3 yards a carry on a night when Virginia Tech did almost nothing else and presented no threat with the passing game.
The Virginia Tech wide receivers were a disappointment. D.J. Coles, in his return from a knee injury, caught one pass for 34 yards, but he also cut short a route that led to an interception of Logan Thomas for a TD, and he had a couple drops. Josh Stanford had one catch for 16 yards, and Knowles, who struggled to get separation and had some drops, had just 2 catches for 3 yards. The wide receivers combined for 4 catches for 53 yards, and Edmunds had the other catch for 6 yards. The tight ends, depleted by the loss of starter Ryan Malleck to injury, didn’t catch a pass.
Brief Game Summary:
After Jones’ punt return put Alabama up 7-0 just 45 seconds into the game, the Tide added a two-yard run with 1:53 left in the first quarter to go up 14-0. Trey Edmunds blasted up the middle shortly thereafter for a 77-yard TD run that closed it to 14-7, firing up the Hokies and their defense.
Alabama responded with a 38-yard interception return for a TD by Vinnie Sunseri. Sunseri cut in front of D.J. Coles, picked off a quick slant, and ran in for a TD to make it 21-7 with 14:04 to go, second quarter.
Logan Thomas missed Knowles on a fly route on the very next play, and the Hokies punted. Later in the second quarter, Kyle Fuller picked off McCarron in Alabama territory, and the Hokies converted it into a 29-yard Cody Journell field goal to close the gap to 21-10 with 3:39 left in the first half.
Christion Jones threw his second dagger of the night on the ensuing kickoff, running through would-be VT tacklers and bursting out of traffic for an impressive 94-yard touchdown return. 28-10, Alabama.
The Tide added a 38-yard touchdown pass to Jones with 3:43 to go in the third quarter. Jones ran by Desmond Frye, who was in single coverage as the Hokies blitzed. Frye was in the game because started Kyshoen Jarrett was out with cramps.
That put Alabama up 35-10. The two teams played an uneventful fourth quarter with no scoring.
The Hokies will return home and face Western Carolina next Saturday at 1:30. The game will be televised on ESPN3.com.