AP Sports Writer
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - Three straight bungled series to open the game brought the boo birds out at Lane Stadium.
Then Logan Thomas decided it was time to give his offense a spark, and a 14-yard run and then a 3-yard run did the trick, pushing the Hokies to a 37-0 victory against Bowling Green on Saturday.
"We needed something to get us going," Thomas said of the 3-yard run, a play on which he could have stepped out of bounds, but instead lowered his shoulder into Falcons defensive end Charlie Walker to gain an extra yard on a second-and-13 play. At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, Thomas is four inches taller and 22 pounds heavier than Walker, and the shot he delivered was substantial.
"We were a little slow off the start, and it kind of sent a message. I was just talking to (right guard Vinston) Painter about it and he said, `Yeah, it fired me up, too,'" Thomas said.
It also sparked a string of three series in a row that ended in a touchdown for the Hokies, who led 21-0 at halftime and rode the solid play of their rejuvenated defense to the easy victory.
Linebacker Bruce Taylor said the defense knew it had played poorly in allowing 537 yards at Pittsburgh in a humbling 35-17 loss a week earlier, and a review of the film looked even worse.
"That's not us," he said. "That's not how we play defense."
The Hokies (3-1) limited Bowling Green to 266 yards _ and the first shutout of the Falcons in 170 games.
"We just talked about playing better, getting back to playing the way Virginia Tech plays, flying around to the football and playing with intelligent recklessness," coach Frank Beamer said.
Thomas, who had been reluctant to run in the first three games, had key runs on all three scoring drives in the second quarter. He finished with 65 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
"Bowling Green did a great job taking a lot of our stuff downfield away," he said.
The Falcons (1-3) did little right all day. They managed just 71 yards in the first half, missed a field goal for the fourth time in five tries this season, switched quarterbacks midway through the third quarter and turned the ball over on downs three times in Hokies territory in the second half.
"They beat us up front. They covered us in the secondary," a frustrated Falcons coach Dave Clawson said. "We didn't play well at quarterback. What struggle didn't we have?"
The Hokies had plenty to do with it.
Thomas threw TD passes of 10 yards to J.C. Coleman and 42 yards to Dyrell Roberts and ran 1 yard for another score, all in the second quarter. Not counting a sack, Thomas ran for 45 yards in the half, and then added a 26-yard burst in the third quarter before giving way to backup Mark Leal.
After managing just 96 rushing yards last week, the Hokies seemed determined to get their ground game going, but then bumbled their way through their first three offensive series. The third possession ended after Thomas fumbled the snap on a third-and-9 play, rolled right and sailed a pass well over the head of Marcus Davis, and the offense left the field to a chorus of boos.
"Once we caught our groove, there was no turning around," Thomas said.
The Falcons were no match. The team from the Mid-American Conference played Florida close into the third quarter at The Swamp, but couldn't do it again once Thomas asserted himself.
After he slammed into Walker, a 17-yard run by Tony Gregory, Thomas' 3-yard run on third-and-1 and a 10-yard pass to Roberts set up the swing pass to Coleman, who dove for the left pylon.
Michael Holmes' 15-yard punt return set up the next drive, and it took just four plays. After Thomas' 5-yard run on third-and-1, he found Roberts behind a defender for a 42-yard TD pass.
After the Falcons punted again, Thomas hit Davis for 13 yards on third-and-9 and Roberts for 11 yards on third-and-6 to the 16. Thomas' 15-yard run got it to the 1, and he dove in on the next play.
Holmes, replaced in the starting backfield by Gregory, had a 40-yard burst in the third quarter to set up his 2-yard run, and Martin Scales scored on a 4-yard run with 9:22 remaining.
Gregory led the Hokies with 68 yards on 11 carries.
On the Falcons' best scoring chance in the first half, Stephen Stein missed a 43-yard field goal, the ball slamming into the right upright. It was Bowling Green's fourth miss in five field goal tries this year.
After Matt Johnson replaced starting quarterback Matt Schilz _ 9-for-25, 87 yards _ in the third quarter, the Falcons failed to convert fourth-down plays from the Hokies' 15-, 28- and 18-yard lines.
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(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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