Hokies down Catamounts, 45-3

Detrick Bonner had two interceptions, including this 37-yarder for touchdown.


The Virginia Tech offense got off to a slow start against FCS Western Carolina Saturday, but the Hokies took control and beat the Catamounts 45-3.

After one quarter of this game, it was statistically even, and the Hokies held a 7-0 lead by virtue of a 37-yard interception return for touchdown by Detrick Bonner . At that point, each team had three first downs, and the yardage was 61-53 in favor of Virginia Tech. The Hokies only had 17 yards rushing on six carries by Trey Edmunds , and Logan  Thomas was 4-of-8 passing for 44 yards and a long interception in the end zone.

But over the course of the next two quarters, the Hokies outgained WCU 297 yards to 95 yards, outscored the Catamounts 28-3, and took control of the game with a 35-3 lead after three quarters. Virginia Tech then subbed on offense and defense for most of the fourth quarter and finished WCU off.

For the most part, the Virginia Tech offense was not explosive, but once the first quarter was over, it was steady, with five scoring drives that lasted 6 plays, 7 plays, 9 plays, 9 plays, and 16 plays. Sprinkled in with that was a 2-play drive that featured a 76-yard touchdown run by backup tailback Chris Mangus .

Logan Thomas finished 17-of-31 for 200 yards, 1 touchdown (a 19-yarder to D.J. Coles), and 2 interceptions in about three quarters worth of work. In relief, Mark Leal was 3-of-4 for 25 yards.

The big story for the Hokies offensively was the play of true freshman tight end Kalvin Cline , who was the Hokies second-leading receiver with 4 catches for 46 yards. Joshua Stanford also had 4 catches for 46 yards, while Willie Byrn led Tech with 4 catches for 58 yards.

Demitri Knowles caught 2 passes for 20 yards, and D.J. Coles, who was bumped from the starting lineup in favor of Stanford, had 1 catch for a 19-yard touchdown.

The Hokies spread the ball around in the running game, and by virtue of his 76-yard TD run, Mangus led Tech in rushing with 5 carries for 84 yards. Overall, the Hokies had 34 carries for 237 yards (7.0 ypc). Starter Trey Edmunds had the most carries with 15 for 68 yards and two 1-yard TD runs, in a solid but unspectacular day.

J.C. Coleman returned to action with 7 rushes for 38 yards, and Joel Caleb, making his debut at tailback, had 6 carries for 36 yards and a 13-yard TD to close out the scoring.

Defensively, the Hokies held WCU to 8 first downs and 162 yards. Jack Tyler led Tech with 11 tackles, and Derrick Hopkins registered 8. The Hokies played solid defense but didn’t spend as much time in WCU’s backfield as they did Alabama’s in the opener, with just six tackles for loss (TFL).

The Hokies were strong in pass defense. Western Carolina QB Eddie Sullivan (4-of-14 for 51 yards and 3 INTs) completed almost as many passes to the Hokies as he did his own players. In addition to his 37-yard TD return, Bonner added a second interception with a 35-yard return.

Game Flow

It took Virginia Tech a while to establish control at the line of scrimmage, and as noted above, the game was a standstill after one  quarter, except for Bonner’s 37-yard interception return. On the play, Sullivan threw it down the right sideline, and Kendall Fuller made a great leaping tip, knocking the ball into Bonner’s hands, who didn’t break stride in picking it off and running it down the sideline for six points.

During that first quarter, Logan Thomas threw a long pass into the end zone to Knowles in single coverage, and the defensive back got inside Knowles and made the interception.

After his slow start, Thomas completed 11-of-14 passes during one streak, and he led the Hokies on two long touchdown drives of 16 plays, 87 yards, and 6 plays, 69 yards, to put Tech up 21-0 at halftime. On the first possession, Trey Edmunds scored on a 1-yard run, and on the second possession, Thomas threaded the needle to D.J. Coles in the back of the end zone for a 19-yard TD catch.

On VT’s last possession of the first half, Thomas drove the Hokies downfield, then threw his second interception in the end zone, again targeting Knowles. The ball was thrown on a rope, and with the defender inside him, Knowles couldn’t break it up, and the pass was intercepted.

On Tech’s second possession of the third quarter, Chris Mangus blew around left end and raced up the sideline for a 76-yard touchdown run, the first score of his career. That put the Hokies up 28-0.

WCU got on the board later in the quarter when a punt bounced off the leg of punt returner Kyshoen Jarrett, and WCU recovered at the Hokie 11-yard line. Tech’s defense pushed the Catamounts back two yards, but they converted the 28-yard field goal to break the shutout. 28-3, Hokies.

Chase Williams fielded the ensuing kickoff, a pooch kick, and returned it 27 yards to the 50. The Hokies punched it in from there in seven plays, with Edmunds scoring on another 1-yard run. 35-3, Virginia Tech.

In the fourth quarter, Cody Journell kicked a 30-yard field goal, and with the Hokies up 38-3, that was the end of Logan Thomas ‘ day. Mark Leal played the rest of the game, and he led the Hokies on a 6-play, 45-yard scoring drive for the final margin of 45-3. Former wide receiver Joel Caleb, seeing his first action at tailback, scored from 13 yards out.

The Hokies are now 1-1. They will travel next week to play at East Carolina. The game is scheduled for noon and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

Game Notes

  • Brandon Facyson recorded the first interception of his college career on the second play of the game, making a diving catch of a poorly thrown ball by Sullivan, who was pressured by J.R. Collins.
  • Virginia Tech’s defense has now held its last four opponents to 196, 217, 206, and 162 yards. That’s 195 yards per game.
  • The Hokies have now played 10 true freshmen this season.
  • Attendance was announced at 61,335 (Lane Stadium’s capacity is 66,233). That ends a sellout streak of 93 straight games dating back to the 1998 Virginia game.