It was another slow start and strong finish for the Hokies Saturday, as they defeated the Austin Peay Governors 42-7.
The Hokies (2-0) were led by Michael Holmes, as the freshman rushed for 40 yards and two touchdowns, the first two scores of his career.
“It takes us a while to get going, but once we got going, we put points on the board,” Holmes said.
Quarterback Logan Thomas, who struggled Monday against Georgia Tech, improved on that performance, finishing 15-for-23 for 212 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a rushing touchdown.
“I was definitely surprised, but I've have to give Austin Peay credit,” Thomas said. “They played hard, they played tough and they made us do some things that we didn't want to do off the start. We got better throughout the game, which is what you need to do and is something you can build off of.”
Tech struggled again in the first quarter, tallying only 59 total yards on 14 plays. Their lone score in the quarter came on a two-yard Holmes touchdown run following a Kyshoen Jarrett punt return down to the six-yard line.
“Why we started slow, I’m not sure about that,” said Frank Beamer. “I think we got a lot of new faces there with guys as the first time as a starter.”
Thomas’ two touchdown passes came in the second and third quarter. His first was on a nicely placed ball to Corey Fuller from 30 yards out, while the second went to Randall Dunn on a play-action fake.
The Hokies saw more consistency in their special teams play Saturday, as both the punt and punt return team thrived.
Punter A.J. Hughes punted five times for an average of 44 yards, redeeming himself after a botched catch Monday night.
“I thought our punting game was unbelievable and our coverage was pretty good for the most part,” Beamer said. “I thought we took a step forward with our kicking game today.”
In addition to Jarrett’s punt return, the Hokies also blocked a punt. Tony Gregory blocked his second punt in as many seasons, setting the Hokies up for their second touchdown, a Thomas run from one yard out.
“Both of (the special teams plays) led to scores, and we need to keep developing,” Beamer said. “(Gregory) has a burst of speed and a knack for blocking kicks.”
Jarrett enjoys playing special teams, and doesn’t feel like it affects his play on defense.
“It definitely feels good, but I don’t feel like it affects me at all,” Jarrett said. “I just have to go out there on special teams and do what I need to do, then go back on defense and perform to the best of my ability.”
With the lead well in hand, the Hokies were able to get work for many of their younger players. Dadi Nicolas, Donovan Riley, Ronny Vandyke, Desmond Frye, Matt Roth, Michael Cole, Donaldven Manning, Joshua Stanford, and Kevin Asante all saw time in the second half.
“We just need to play more people, there’s no question,” Beamer said. “As we go along, we need to play more people.”
Thomas likes what he sees from the offense, even with all the young players out there.
“You're going to have your growing pains, you just have to limit them, make it early in the season and get through it with a ‘W’ like we have the first two games — keep getting better week-to-week,” Thomas said.
The Hokies head to Pittsburgh next Saturday to face the Pittsburgh Panthers. Kick off is set for noon.