66F Lane Stadium/Worsham Field, Blacksburg, VA
Virginia Tech escaped with an overtime win in its season opener after getting all it could handle from a formidable conference rival.
The 15th-ranked Hokies could have a much easier go at it when they meet visiting Austin Peay of the FCS for the first time Saturday.
Virginia Tech found itself in a battle with Georgia Tech on Monday before pulling out a 20-17 victory. The Hokies trailed by three with 44 seconds to go in regulation before Cody Journell capped a 51-yard drive with a 41-yard field goal as time expired, sending the game into OT. Kyle Fuller's interception then set up Journell's game-winning 17-yard field goal.
"I told my football team how proud I was, and to come back and win that football game after the way it looked at times ... it just says so much about the players believing and making plays when they had to," coach Frank Beamer told the school's official website. "I like the potential of this football team.
"Things have a way of working out for guys who keep on believing and keep on playing. I'm really proud. I really think this is something ... our football team got closer tonight."
With former star David Wilson now competing for carries with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, Virginia Tech compiled 96 yards on the ground - its third-lowest total in 34 games. Freshman Michael Holmes ran 13 times for 54 yards while quarterback Logan Thomas managed 40 yards on 15 attempts.
While it might take some time for the ground game to get going, the Hokies appear to be in good shape behind Thomas' arm. After finishing fifth in the ACC last season with 3,013 passing yards, Thomas completed 21 of 38 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
He found Marcus Davis six times for 82 yards while fellow senior Corey Fuller - Kyle's brother - hauled in a career-high five receptions for 82 yards, including two key grabs during the game-tying drive.
"Corey, he's a track guy, and then, he's a fast football guy," Beamer said. "I want to keep seeing him improve. I had a scout ask me about him the other day. He noticed him out there on the field. Corey was fast, but football-wise, he was not quite the receiver that he is becoming. He's developed into a threat."
Thomas and Corey Fuller have to like their chances of developing their rapport all the more against Austin Peay, which gave up 352 passing yards in last Saturday's season-opening 49-10 loss at Western Kentucky. The Governors were limited to 154 yards of total offense, converting 1 of 12 third-down chances.
Senior Wesley Kitts accounted for most of that offense, rushing for 104 yards on 10 carries. He scored his team's lone touchdown on a 68-yard scamper.
"There were some really good things that happened, and that was the most important thing - we gotta capitalize on the good things," coach Rick Christophel said. "The thing we gotta do as a football team, we gotta make decisions now how we're gonna approach this. The best players have gotta be on the field, and we gotta get them all together, and that's what it's all about."
Jake Ryan completed 2 of 10 passes for 11 yards and an interception, and he could be in for another long day against the Hokies, who allowed 96 yards through the air Monday.
In their only matchup against a ranked opponent, the Governors - a non-scholarship program from 1997-2005 - lost 70-3 to then-No. 11 Wisconsin on Sept. 25, 2010.
Virginia Tech has won 36 of its last 37 home games against non-conference opponents, with its only loss coming 21-16 to James Madison on Sept. 11, 2010.