No. 15 Va. Tech relies on special teams for win against Austin Peay

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- The last time Virginia Tech played two games in less than a week, it emerged 0-2 after losing a shocker to an opponent from the lower-tier FCS.

That was two years ago. The No. 15 Hokies made sure that didn't happen again, beating Austin Peay 42-7 on Saturday after a bit of a slow start.

"It is just a hard week and was just a tough game against Georgia Tech," said Hokies coach Frank Beamer, who added that he condensed the team's practices after the season-opening overtime win against Georgia Tech. "We tried to get our health back, and it is just not easy playing two football games that quickly."

Virginia Tech linebacker Jack Tyler said the Hokies are still feeling the effects of Monday night's game.

"Our bodies are a little banged up with the short week," he said.

But it wasn't Tyler and his defensive mates who had to shake the cobwebs, it was the offense. The Hokies (2-0) couldn't get much going early -- but neither could the Governors (0-2).

So Virginia Tech turned to one of its historic strong points -- special teams -- to seize the momentum until the offense started clicking.

First was a 46-yard punt return by Kyshoen Jarrett to the Austin Peay 6. That set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Michael Holmes.

Next came Tony Gregory's blocked punt.

"Yeah, that got us going," Beamer said. "... He's got a burst of speed and I think a good knack for blocking punts."

Working with a short field, the Hokies punched it in five plays later with a quarterback sneak by Logan Thomas.

Finally, the offense came to life, putting together touchdown drives of 71 and 80 yards on their next two possessions to take control.

Still, it was a frustrating start that left Beamer searching for answers.

"I'm not sure why we started slow but I think we've got a lot of new faces," he said. "There were a lot of guys that were playing for the first time as a starter, and that is not an excuse."

Beamer also gave Austin Peay credit for the Hokies' frustrations.

"They came in here and their guys played hard and played to the end," he said, adding that they have "some tough kids."

Austin Peay coach Rick Christophel made the same observation.

"We really, really played hard," he said. "I told them after the game that I was as proud of them as any team here at Austin Peay because of the way that we fought all the way to the end."

Tyler was among the Hokies who came away impressed.

"I think they were a lot better than I thought," he said. "It's college football. Everyone's good. You can't take a week off."

The Governors had offensive struggles of their own, but they did put together an impressive six-play, 78-yard drive in the third quarter to extend their string of consecutive games without being shut out to 75. Wesley Kitts had a 32-yard run on the drive to go over 100 yards for the second consecutive week -- he finished with 110 on 22 carries -- and Terrence Oliver scored on an 8-yard run.

Virginia Tech promptly reasserted control, though, with a 72-yard drive capped by Thomas' 13-yard pass to Randall Dunn to make it 35-7, and by late in the third period Thomas was done for the day. He finished 15 of 23 for 212 yards.

The Hokies undoubtedly would have liked to get more out of their running game against a team that lost its opener 49-10 to Western Kentucky and wasn't expected to put up much resistance. The Hokies are looking for someone to replace first-round draft pick David Wilson, but the duo of J.C. Coleman and Holmes couldn't find much running room against the Governors -- especially early. Holmes finished with 40 yards, Coleman with 29.

The 260-pound Thomas usually is one of the Hokies' biggest rushing threats, but that wasn't the case Saturday as Virginia Tech focused on trying to get the tailbacks going. They fared a little better late, as the Governors began to wear down against the bigger and deeper Hokies, who finished with 419 total yards, 187 on the ground.

Thomas threw a 30-yard TD pass to Corey Fuller, and Gregory had an 18-yard touchdown run for the Hokies.

After completing just 2 of 10 passes for 11 yards in the season opener, Austin Peay quarterback Jake Ryan fared only marginally better against the Hokies. He finished 8 of 21 for 62 yards and was intercepted twice, including a pick in the end zone by Kyle Fuller on the Governors' first possession of the second half.

The Governors finished with 221 total yards.


2015 Ohio Valley Conference Standings

Jacksonville State8-013-2
Eastern Illinois7-17-5
Eastern Kentucky5-36-5
Southeast Missouri State3-44-7
Tennessee Tech3-54-7
Murray State2-63-8
Tennessee State1-64-6
Austin Peay0-80-11