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October 5, 2013

VT Takes Down UNC 27-17

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Senior quarterback Logan Thomas has been no stranger to scrutiny over the last couple years. But it'd be hard to find anything wrong with the way he played on Saturday afternoon against North Carolina.

Thomas threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns (zero interceptions) in a 27-17 homecoming victory over the Tar Heels, marking five straight wins this season for the Hokies. The signal-caller also made school history by becoming Virginia Tech's career-leader in passing yards by passing Tyrod Taylor's 7,017 yards.

"I think he made some great throws today," head coach Frank Beamer said following the win. "He sits in the pocket and makes great throws...he's tough, he's smart, and I think the NFL definitely needs to take that guy. I'd take him if I was up there."

The 19-of-28 day passing from Thomas featured completions to nine different receivers, highlighted by a career-high 123 yards for junior wide receiver Willie Byrn and two touchdowns from senior D.J. Coles.

"Everything just felt good, the ball was coming out of my hand really well," Thomas said. "I was reading the defense well, but I was just happy to have a good first half. For the most part, we played a good game and we just have to keep getting better. The past two weeks everything has been clicking pretty well. Hopefully we keep progressing the way we are right now."

The Hokie defense also was stout once again, as the group forced two interceptions and kept an efficient UNC offense at bay for most of the day.

Following two lackluster drives to begin the game, Virginia Tech grabbed a lead they would not relinquish on a 5-play, 77-yard drive. After sucking in the UNC defense with three straight runs, Thomas found Byrn for 17 yards and then a wide-open Demetri Knowles for a 45-yard touchdown using play-action.

The Hokie defense allowed just 26 yards of offense in the first quarter against backup quarterback Marquise Williams, and the offense began to take over with a 12-play, 77-yard drive to widen the lead to 14-0 early in the second. Following a timeout on third and goal, Thomas found Coles for a 9-yard touchdown on a nice slant route.

UNC was then finally able get rolling on offense thanks to new confidence in the arm of Williams, who was in for an injured Bryn Renner. He was able to complete 5 of 7 passes on a 10-play drive for 79 yards, capped off by an impressive 6-yard throw and catch to NFL-prospect Eric Ebron to cut the deficit in half.

Nursing a seven-point lead later in the quarter, a surging Thomas took over from his own 2-yard line, only to hit Byrn for an 83-yard pass on the first play. Coles finished the drive off once again with his fifth touchdown (on 11 catches) of the season on a 5-yard pass. Kyshoen Jarrett eliminated any hope of Tarheel points before the half with his second interception of the season to keep the Hokie lead at 21-7 at half. It was perhaps the most productive first half of the season for Virginia Tech.

"We've gotten comfortable with the calls that are going to be made, so that's huge for me to understand what he's seeing up there," Thomas said regarding his blossoming relationship with offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.

A 36-yard field goal by Tar Heels kicker Thomas Moore made it 21-10 in the third quarter, and a suddenly inept Virginia Tech offense (12 yards in the third quarter) kept things close heading to the final frame.

However, Kyle Fuller picked off Williams on 4th and 1 deep in VT territory to keep a valuable two-score lead. Jack Tyler and Fuller acknowledged coordinator Bud Foster warned the defense beforehand for the exact play that marked a nation-leading 13th interception for the group. It all but iced the game, nothing new for a unit that ranks among the best in college football.

"Even though we've been patted on the back lately, I don't see any complacency," Tyler, who tied for the team-lead with 11 tackles, said. "I think everybody is coming to practice everyday with the same motivation that we want to be the best defense in the country. We're striving towards it, we still need to get better, we need to be perfect. And that's what Coach Foster demands, is perfection."

The Hokies would be able to eat clock and hold on from there, cementing the result with a one-yard run from redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds with a little over four minutes left. UNC was able to record a garbage-time touchdown via a 24-yard touchdown catch by Quinshad Davis for the final score.

After securing its fifth victory on Nov. 17 of 2012 (game 11), Virginia Tech already has five wins on Oct. 5. And even though none of the five wins have been especially dominating, Beamer likes the progress that is being made.

"I would say that this football team finds a way to get it done and I like that," Beamer added. "We grind, it's not always smooth. It's a great effort. Even though we have a bunch of young guys, they're getting older every game."

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