After sleepwalking through much of their win against Delaware a week ago, #16 Virginia Tech headed to Greenville, NC today to face a familiar opponent in East Carolina. Despite their rough start to the season, the Pirates were looking to knock off the Hokies, and made that known in the 1st Quarter. However, the Hokies took control and cruised to an easy victory.
East Carolina came into the game ready to play, while Virginia Tech struggled to find their stride early on. The Pirates jumped out to an early 17-7 lead in the 1st Quarter with over 200 yards of total offense, mainly through the passing game. ECU Quarterback Gardner Minshew threw for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Quarter, including a 76 yard bomb to receiver Trevon Brown.
The next three Quarters, however, told a different story. The Hokies tallied 57 unanswered points along with over 600 yards of offense, and the defense did not allow another point. The Pirates lost all momentum very quickly, and were unable to keep up with the prolific Hokie offense led by Josh Jackson and Cam Phillips. Virginia Tech got hot and eased to a 64-17 victory.
Cam Phillips led the way offensively, exposing the ECU secondary and putting up video-game-like numbers. He finished with 14 receptions for 189 yards and 3 touchdowns, all career highs. The 14 receptions by Phillips set a new single game school record.
Phillips’ Quarterback, Josh Jackson, had a day for the books as well, going 24 for 31 with 372 yards and a dazzling 5 touchdowns. Jackson seemed to be in control of the offense and was picking the ECU defense apart at will. Perhaps the most impressive stat for Jackson is that he once again did not throw an interception. In 85 pass attempts this season, Josh Jackson has thrown a total of 0 interceptions.
Unlike last week, Virginia Tech was able to establish a strong running game to go along with Jackson’s passing. They finished with 287 yards on the ground, led by tailback Travon McMillian, who finished with 142 all-purpose yards, 72 of which came from the run game. DeShawn McClease also had a solid day, tallying 55 yards on 11 carries.
A number of milestones were reached today, most notably kicker Joey Slye breaking Shayne Graham’s school record for most field goals made in a career. Other milestones included Jalen Holston, Coleman Fox, and Sean Savoy each getting their first career touchdowns, promising tight end Dalton Keene getting his first career reception, and backup Quarterback AJ Bush seeing the field for the first time as a Hokie.
Defensively, the Hokies enjoyed an all around team effort to shut down the Pirates as the offense took control of the game. Mook Reynolds led the way with 10 tackles, 2.5 of which were for loss. The Hokies finished with 2 sacks, one by Trevon Hill and one split between Andrew Motuapuaka and Divine Deablo.
Special Teams was also a bright spot for the Hokies as kicker Joey Slye went 3-for-3 on field goal attempts. Punter Oscar Bradburn only had to see the field twice, but had a solid day nonetheless, averaging 46 yards per punt with a long of 51 yards.
Despite the slow start, the Hokies showed why they are a top 20 team and made a statement today that they are not going to overlook their weaker opponents while anticipating their big matchup with #3 Clemson on September 30. I expect Virginia Tech to bring that same intensity next week against Old Dominion.
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