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HokieSports.com - It was certainly not the start the Tech offense wanted facing Western Carolina, a Football Championship Subdivision opponent that has now not won a game against a Division I football opponent since Oct. 2, 2010 (a span of 28 straight games), in its home opener Saturday.
The Hokies rushed for two yards on two carries, and despite two completions on four attempts for 25 yards to open the game, quarterback Logan Thomas ended the second drive with an intercepted pass in the end zone.
However, a Detrick Bonner 37-yard interception return for a touchdown – Tech's first defensive touchdown since the 2010 ACC Championship Game –spotted Tech a 7-0 lead, and more importantly, maybe relaxed the offense a little.
On Tech's very next offensive possession, a very methodical 16-play, 87-yard touchdown drive that took 6:27 and spanned the first and second quarters put the team up 14-0 on its way to a 45-3 victory – as Beamer improved to 24-3 in home openers.
The funny thing about Tech's third offensive series of the afternoon was that it appeared the Hokies were off-kilter at the beginning of it. After a Trey Edmunds six-yard carry, Tech used a timeout, facing a second-and-4 from its own 19-yard line. And the leader of the offense, Thomas owned up that it was his mistake.
There was no mix-up the rest of the drive as Thomas led the Hokies on their longest drive, in terms of plays, since a 16-play drive that covered 61 yards [7:38 time of possession] against Michigan in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3, 2012. They used a balanced attack of seven runs all by Edmunds and nine passes from Thomas.
The Hokies also converted on all four of their third-down situations, the longest of which was a third-and-6 that opened up the second quarter. On that play, Thomas found Byrn on a sideline route that went for nine yards, the first of two receptions for Byrn in the drive. The second was a 13-yard catch and run that placed the ball at the 1-yard line.
Thomas was 6-of-9 in the drive for 63 yards and distributed the ball to four different receivers. Joshua Stanford caught two passes for 23 yards, while Demitri Knowles and Kalvin Cline each hauled in one pass, both for nine yards.
It was Edmunds, though, who was called upon on the first-and-goal play from the 1, and he didn't disappoint, as he smashed his way into the end zone for the first of his two touchdowns on the day. In the drive, Edmunds rushed for 24 of his 26 first-half yards before ending the day with 68 yards on 15 carries.
Two more notes on the scoring drive – the 87 yards covered the longest drive since a 93-yard drive (six plays, 2:29 time of possession) at Miami on Nov. 1 last season and the time of possession was the longest since a drive took 7:12 (14 plays, 52 yards) at North Carolina Oct. 6 of last year.
Later in the game, sparked by a 76-yard touchdown run by Chris Mangus, the Hokies added another scoring drive of 80-plus yards, marking the first time since the Duke game last year that Tech had two touchdown drives of 80 yards or longer in the same game.
Tech is trying to break in a new offense with new offensive coordinator, and the day at Lane Stadium may have not started the way Loeffler had wanted. But almost three hours after the opening kickoff, it should have him feeling a bit better about his side of the ball.