Blacksburg, VA – Coming off a short week, the 15th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies get right back at it, as they welcome the Austin Peay Governors to Blacksburg for a non-conference showdown at Lane Stadium.
Frank Beamer's Hokies took part in the last game of the first week of FBS action, taking on ACC foe and Coastal Division rival Georgia Tech on Labor Day. It turned into a bit of a defensive battle, but the Hokies prevailed 20-17 in overtime, thanks to a pair of field goals by Cody Journell, one as time expired in regulation to tie things up and the other in the overtime session to earn the win.
Rick Christophel's Governors weren't as fortunate in their opener, as they took on FBS foe Western Kentucky. The result was a lopsided 49-10 loss to the Hilltoppers, giving Christophel a 3-3 record in season-openers at APSU. Austin Peay remained winless in 22 all-time matchups at Western Kentucky (0-21-1).
Despite the loss, Christophel remains optimistic with his young team.
"I was disappointed, but there were some really good things that happened and that's the most important thing. We need to capitalize on the good things."
This game marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the gridiron.
The Govs were done in by a fast start by Western Kentucky and lacked the offensive firepower to catch up with the Hilltoppers. The passing attack was non-existent to put it lightly, as APSU managed an anemic 11 yards through the air, with QB Jake Ryan completing just 2-of-10 passes, with one interception.
The lone bright spot was a ground game that managed 143 yards, thanks in large part to tailback Wesley Kitts, who finished with 104 yards, with a long 68- yard TD scamper in the third quarter.
Christophel was impressed with Kitts. despite his limited workload down the stretch.
"He's got some capabilities, but you know, he goes down there and strains his groin. That's why he didn't get many carries in the second half."
The APSU defense was equally ill-prepared to handle Western Kentucky, giving up almost 600 yards of offense (596), as the Hilltoppers amassed 28 first downs. Both facets of the defense could use some help, as the Govs were gashed for 244 yards on the ground and another 352 through the air.
Senior strong safety Antwaun Majors led the team with 10 total tackles and recorded the team's only sack on the day. Junior linebacker Craig Salley and sophomore safety Steven Rich posted six tackles each in the loss.
There weren't a whole lot of big plays on the defensive side of the ball for Austin Peay, although the team did record five TFLs and forced two turnovers.
It wasn't the prettiest game of the week, but divisional battles between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech rarely are. This one proved to be difficult for both offenses to move the football.
Coming into the season, the notion was that Virginia Tech would play to its strength and transition from a run-oriented offense to a more traditional one, utilizing the unique talent it has under center in junior QB Logan Thomas.
The opener certainly followed that, as Thomas was decent, although not spectacular, completing 21-of-38 passes, for 230 yards and two TDs. He also added 40 yards on the ground. Wideouts Marcus Davis and Corey Fuller combined for 11 receptions, as each receiver put up 82 yards through the air.
Replacing ACC Player of the Year David Wilson isn't going to be easy and the season-opener was proof of that, as Tech managed a mere 96 yards on the ground, led by Michael Holmes' 54 yards.
While the offense may take some time to gel and really hit its stride, the Hokie defense is already at mid-season form thanks to a slew of veteran playmakers back in the fold. The Yellow Jackets managed to rush for 192 yards in the game, but Georgia Tech's spread offense and option threat is capable of so much more so it had to be considered a moral victory. In all, Virginia Tech yielded just 288 yards to an explosive offensive unit and forced the Yellow Jackets to punt seven times.
The Tech defenders were very active, with three players notching double-figure tackles in the win. Jack Tyler led the way with a whopping 17 stops. J Gouveia-Winslow and Derrick Hopkins were next with 11 tackles each. Rush end James Gayle was a bit quiet with only three tackles, but he was responsible for one of the team's two sacks on the night. All-ACC candidate Kyle Fuller made his presence felt as well, recording the team's lone interception on Georgia Tech's first possession in overtime, setting up Journell's 17-yard field goal to win the game.
Beamer was impressed with his team's ability to grind out the win against Georgia Tech.
"I told my football team how proud I was, and to come back and win that football game after the way it looked at times. "It just says so much about the players believing and making plays when they had to. I like the potential of this football team."