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Virginia Tech football turns to David Wilson, runs away from Boston College

By Mark Giannotto,

BLACKSBURG, Va. — As the first half came to a close Saturday, Virginia Tech running back David Wilson stood on the sideline stewing over the fact that he had just six carries for 21 yards.

But Wilson didn’t yell or make any demands, even though the Hokies found themselves losing to a Boston College squad that had yet to score a victory over a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent this season. He did, however, offer a suggestion to his position coach, Shane Beamer, before the two teams headed to the locker room for halftime.

“Let’s run the ball more,” Wilson recounted after No. 16 Virginia Tech used a second-half surge to cruise to a 30-14 homecoming victory over the Eagles, a win that left the Hokies as the lone team in the ACC’s Coastal Division with one conference loss this season.

It turns out Wilson wasn’t the only one thinking that. Both Coach Frank Beamer and quarterback Logan Thomas had the same idea.

“Everybody knew it,” Wilson said. “Even the linemen were saying it.”

So it’s no surprise that Wilson finished with 17 rushes for 134 yards. He also scored the touchdown that jump-started the Hokies after a sluggish first half that left a sold-out crowd of 66,233 wondering just what happened to the outfit that put up 38 points in each of the past two games.

With Virginia Tech trailing 7-6, Wilson took an option pitch from quarterback Logan Thomas on the Hokies’ opening possession of the second half and sprinted 42 yards for their first touchdown of the day. Thomas had to split Boston College defenders Steele Divitto and Max Holloway to complete the pitch, and wide receiver Marcus Davis’s textbook block sprung Wilson free down the sideline for a rare moment of flawless execution up to that point.

The game turned for good after Boston College responded to Wilson’s big play by driving to the Virginia Tech 22-yard line. On first down, Eagles quarterback Chase Rettig was pressured by linebacker Barquell Rivers and forced a throw into double coverage. Redshirt sophomore Tariq Edwards jumped the route and came up with a diving interception.

Any inkling of an upset vanished after that.

Thomas then found Davis for a 20-yard touchdown pass and the quarterback later plunged into the end zone from one yard out for a 27-7 Virginia Tech lead early in the fourth quarter. By the time the game was over, the Hokies had piled up 214 rushing yards, including 60 from Thomas, and Wilson had eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

Thomas completed 22 of 36 passes for 268 yards and no interceptions. Wide receiver Danny Coale led the charge with eight catches for 118 yards, moving into second place behind teammate Jarrett Boykin on the school’s all-time receiving yards lists. But afterward, everybody involved acknowledged it was the running game that was the catalyst for the Hokies’ third straight game with more than 400 yards of offense.

“We came in at halftime and said, ‘We’ve got to get David more touches,’ ” Frank Beamer said. “I just feel like that’s who we are.”

More pressing for Beamer are the mounting injuries on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive lineman James Gayle left the game after the first series when he aggravated an ankle injury that sidelined him last week against Wake Forest. Linebacker Bruce Taylor didn’t play much of the second half and had a boot on his right foot at the end of the game. Linebacker Alonzo Tweedy, playing for the injured Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, also suffered an ankle injury.

With cornerback Jayron Hosley already missing Saturday’s game because of a left hamstring injury, the Hokies’ defense was playing without five opening day starters during much of the second half.

But once again, Bud Foster’s unit showed little drop-off even as it turned to reserves who were expected to receive little playing time when the season began.

“From Day One, Foster . . . was telling certain guys you need to focus and be there in case this guy goes down, and in case I have to put you in the game, you’ll be ready,” said Rivers, who took over for Taylor midway through the third quarter. “I feel like a lot of people on the team have took that on from Day One and started studying more and watching more film.”

There was no in-depth analysis needed to diagnose what went wrong during a first half in which the Hokies managed only two field goals by place kicker Cody Journell.

Thomas had attempted 25 passes as Virginia Tech struggled to maintain any sort of offensive rhythm against a Boston College defense that came into Saturday’s game ranked 95th in the country. Even the redshirt sophomore signal-caller knew what ailed his struggling team.

“You say Tech, and you kind of think the opposite. You run the ball 25 times,” Thomas said. “I agreed [with Wilson]. I felt like we had thrown the ball a lot in the first half and I knew it was time to start putting it on the ground and let them pound up front.”

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