GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Logan Thomas threw two touchdown passes and Virginia Tech turned in a dominating defensive performance to beat East Carolina 15-10 on Saturday.
Thomas' second TD toss, a 3-yard score to D.J. Coles with 4:09 left in the third quarter, put the Hokies (2-1) ahead to stay.
The Pirates (2-1) had their own chance for a go-ahead drive, getting the ball back at their own 10 with 2:04 left. But the Hokies sacked Shane Carden on first down, then James Gayle stripped Carden from behind in the end zone for a safety that essentially sealed the win.
Virginia Tech had seven sacks, 11 tackles for loss and three interceptions. The Hokies also held the Pirates to a meager 3-for-11 third-down conversion rate.
Virginia Tech needed every bit of that production, too. Its offense had to grind out tough yards all day, while Cody Journell missed two field goals and an extra point.
It was difficult to know what to make of the Hokies coming in. They lost their opener to No. 1 Alabama in an ugly performance full of dropped passes by Hokies receivers that led to a 5-for-26 passing day for Thomas. They followed that with a 45-3 win against Championship Subdivision opponent Western Carolina at home.
But the formula Saturday was to rely on the defense and avoid major mistakes -- Journell's off-target kicking, aside -- to win on the road. Virginia Tech allowed just 204 total yards and hasn't allowed more than 206 in a game this season.
East Carolina was going for its first 3-0 start since 2008, when the Pirates opened with a win against the Hokies in Charlotte followed by an upset of West Virginia the following week. But the Pirates had lost three straight to the Hokies and nine of 10 regular-season meetings with Atlantic Coast Conference opponents since that start.
Things looked promising when Carden directed the Pirates on a 75-yard touchdown drive that lasted just 99 seconds to start the game. But the Pirates managed 129 yards for the next 58 minutes and never got their pass-heavy spread offense running at full speed.
Carden threw for 158 yards on 19-for-31 passing, while the Pirates finished with just 46 yards on 23 rushing attempts. In addition, top receiving threat Justin Hardy had six catches for just 31 yards.
Thomas threw for 258 yards on 25-for-43 passing, while Trey Edmunds managed just 42 yards rushing.
Demitri Knowles also had a touchdown catch for Virginia Tech and finished with eight catches for 99 yards.
Nike Men's Virginia Tech Hokies Maroon/Orange Team Issue Performance PoloShop
Ohio State remained No. 1 in the AP Top 25 and tied a poll record Sunday despite lagging support from voters. Meanwhile, No. 2 TCU and No. 3 Baylor edged forward and No. 4 Michigan State slipped.
Will Grier threw four touchdown passes to four receivers -- all in the first half -- and No. 25 Florida downed third-ranked Mississippi 38-10 on Saturday night.
Leonard Fournette highlighted his SEC-record third straight 200-yard game with a 75-yard touchdown run, and No. 9 LSU overcame Eastern Michigan 44-22 on Saturday night.
An officiating error led to an Oklahoma State touchdown Saturday in the Cowboys' 36-34 win over Kansas State.
Texas A&M receiver Ricky Seals-Jones, who was ejected for targeting midway in the second quarter of Saturday's game, took to Twitter late in the game, retweeting a tweet that questioned the call.
As if things weren't going bad enough at Texas, the Longhorns appear to have players on Twitter during lopsided losses and jabs at their coach accidentally being sent from other nearby teams.