Virginia Tech football beats East Carolina for first win of season
Sunday, September 19, 2010; 12:10 AM
BLACKSBURG, VA. - When he agreed with his coaches not to redshirt this year and instead play alongside sophomore Ryan Williams and junior Darren Evans in the Virginia Tech backfield, sophomore running back David Wilson did so under the impression that he would get meaningful touches.
But after getting on the field for just 11 plays in the Hokies' first two games, Wilson was frustrated and said as much to reporters. On Saturday against East Carolina, though, the Danville, Va., native got his wish.
With Williams on crutches because of a first-half hamstring injury and Evans's confidence shaken following a fumble on the Hokies' third play after halftime, Wilson sparked Virginia Tech to a come-from-behind 49-27 victory over the Pirates with two touchdown runs in the second half.
The Hokies came back from deficits of 10-0, 17-7 and 27-21 to avoid their first 0-3 start since 1987. Wilson finished with 115 total yards (89 rushing, 26 receiving), but perhaps more important, a new outlook on his role.
"It wasn't really about me getting carries, it was just hard for me to watch," Wilson said of his limited playing time in the Hokies' first two games. "I was just frustrated - anybody would be - but I got my opportunity and I took advantage of it. We'll see how the rest of the season goes."
Wilson's exploits weren't the only bright spot for the sellout crowd of 66,233 at Lane Stadium. While Wilson showed off why he was a top recruit two years ago, the Hokies' defense, which features seven new starters, finally began to resemble the unit that has been so stout in recent seasons.
After allowing East Carolina to rack up 278 yards before halftime, Virginia Tech's defense shut the door in the second half, allowing just three points and 84 yards.
Cornerback Rashad Carmichael (Gwynn Park High) was the star during the drastic turnaround. With the Hokies clinging to a 35-27 lead early in the fourth quarter and East Carolina driving, the fifth-year senior jumped a route by the Pirates' Justin Jones for an interception and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown.
On East Carolina's next drive, Carmichael sealed the victory with another interception, this time making a catch over his shoulder. It was sweet redemption for the Clinton native after a first half that featured several pass interference calls, including one that set up a Pirates touchdown.
The Hokies also got more aggressive in the second half, blitzing linebackers up the middle of East Carolina's offensive line. Virginia Tech finished with three sacks.
"I feel like we grew up as a team today," Carmichael said. "You could feel the chemistry."
In anticipation of East Carolina's high-octane "Air Raid" offense, defensive coordinator Bud Foster made several changes to his starting lineup. With sophomore cornerback Jayron Hosley suspended for violating team policy, freshman Kyle Fuller got his first career start. The Hokies also opened in a nickel defense and often played with just three defensive linemen to combat the Pirates' dynamic passing attack.