The Virginia Tech Hokies improved to 2-1 Saturday, beating the East Carolina Pirates, 15-10.
“I think it’s a great win by our football team. I think we beat a good football team,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t put the game away earlier but I’m happy with our effort.”
The Hokies were sluggish on both sides of the ball to start the game. On the Pirates’ opening drive they drove 75 yards in less than two minutes for a quick six points. The Hokies offense failed to respond, going three-and-out on the ensuing drive.
Trey Edmunds and the offensive line failed to establish the running game, gaining only 53 yards on the ground.
But with Edmunds’ slow day, young receivers like Demitri Knowles and Willie Byrn stepped up. Knowles set career highs in both receptions (8) and receiveing yards (99). He also pulled in a 30-yard pass from quarterback Logan Thomas for the team's first score.
“Demitri and Josh (Stanford) made a couple tough catches and Byrn’s as dependable as the day is long,” Beamer said. “D.J. (Coles) got a touchdown. I thought we were better and we just have to keep taking steps.”
After entering the half tied at seven, the Pirates took the lead on a 44-yard field goal in the third quarter — right about when the Hokies’ kicking game started to melt down.
On the ensuing possession, Thomas led his team on a 75-yard drive and capped it with a short touchdown pass to D.J. Coles. Kicker Cody Journell missed the extra point however, keeping the lead within a field goal at 13-10.
Brandon Facyson and Tariq Edwards each picked off Pirates quarterback Shane Carden in the second half — Facyson for his second of the day and third of the year — but the Hokies weren’t able to capitalize. After each interception the Hokies failed to capitalize, as Journell missed from 38 and 40 yards keeping the Pirates in the game.
“Honestly, it’s probably the worst game I’ve ever played in my whole career,” Journell said. “I apologized to the team for it and they were all behind me, but I told them I would get on it this week and make sure it never happened again.”
The Pirates never really threatened in the second half, amassing only 30 yards in the final thirty minutes of play. But due to the Hokies’ inconsistent offense and Journell’s misses, East Carolina was still very much in it.
After the Hokies couldn’t convert a fourth-and-one from the Pirates’ 10-yard line with just over two minutes remaining, Carden and East Carolina had a chance to drive for the win.
But James Gayle and the Hokies defense would be having none of that.
Carden was sacked on consecutive plays, with the second coming in the end zone for a safety. The safety wrapped up another strong afternoon for Tech’s defense.
“I think the defense played tremendously today. We were able to keep a tremendous player in check,” Gayle said of Carden, who came into the game completing 79.7 percent of his passing attempts. “I thought he made a lot of plays today, but not enough to beat the Hokies.”