Tech knocks out ECU
Record efforts by Phillips, Jackson fuel romp on road Lauletta has game for record books against Bison
GREENVILLE, N.C. — East Carolina figured to at least land a solid punch - it usually does against the Hokies.
But Virginia Tech absorbed the Pirates’ best shot early Saturday, then came back with a barrage of blows as good as the Hokies have had in years in a 64-17 knockout win.
Cam Phillips had a school-record 14 catches for 189 yards and three touchdowns and Josh Jackson threw for a career-high 372 yards and tied a school record with five touchdown passes as the Hokies erased an early 17-7 deficit by ripping off 57 unanswered points.
“Our offense was on fire,” said kicker Joey Slye, who barely got his helmet off on the sideline a couple of times before having to trot back on the field to kick an extra point. “Once we started to get things clicking, you couldn’t stop us.”
East Carolina (0-3) looked pitiful in losses to James
The first incomplete pass was a throw-away under pressure. Another sailed a bit high, intended for Dejon Brissett, covered fairly well in the end zone. One other football that Kyle Lauletta threw hit the ground.
Other than those three, Lauletta was flawless in Richmond’s 68-21 win over Howard on Saturday. In the Spiders’ home opener, Lauletta completed 24 of 27 for 290 yards and a school-record six touchdowns before leaving with 12 minutes left in the third quarter. Richmond had a 55-7 lead, and didn’t attempt another pass.
The Spiders’ 68 points are the most in their modern era, and third-highest total in school history. Richmond beat Randolph-Macon 80-0 in 1917, and the Norfolk Marines 74-7 in 1943.
“For me, in the first two games, one of the things I
Madison and West Virginia to start the year, but this loss was just as bad for a program that has dropped 12 of its last 13 games.
The Hokies’ 64 points were the third-most they’ve scored in a game since 1987 and the second-most ever against a team from the Football Bowl Subdivision or a comparable historical level. Tech beat Akron 77-27 in 1995.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done that,” Jackson said of scoring 64 points.
Virginia Tech’s 675 yards matched a singlegame school record, tying the Hokies’ output in a 1993 win against Pitt. They scored on nine consecutive drives at one point Saturday and got points on 11 of their 14 drives.
After the defense gave up oodles of yards against West Virginia and the offense didn’t exactly shine last week against Delaware, the Hokies (3-0) were still waiting for their first complete game of the season.
They got it Saturday. The defense looked shellshocked early, giving up 17 first-quarter points and 204 yards with backup quarterback Gardner Minshew getting the start, hearkening to past struggles at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, which has tripped up the Hokies before.
“I did tell them, ‘We might set a record today (for giving up points) if we’re not careful,’” said defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
But Foster’s defense buckled down, giving up only 4 more yards in the half and 77 yards in the final three quarters, keeping East Carolina off the scoreboard for the final 47 minutes. Tech held ECU to 40 rushing yards, limited the Pirates to 4 of 15 on third downs and forced three turnovers in a dominating showing after the initial setback.
“Our kids did not panic,” said Foster. “They did not point fingers and obviously we made some adjustments. We kept our calm as a staff and told them, ‘Hey, it’s a long game. We just need to settle down.’ And the kids executed the plan, and that’s when the screws tightened down.”
The offense was not to be outdone. Jackson was sharp from the start, completing 24 of 31 passes in a little under three quarters. His 372 yards were the most by a Hokies freshman in a game and the fifth-most by any Virginia Tech quarterback since 1987. His five touchdown passes tied a single-game school record held by Bryan Randall and Jerod Evans.
“I like the way he goes about his business,” said Tech coach Justin Fuente. “I like the way his demeanor is in the game. You can communicate with him. He understands what’s going on and he can handle adjustments.”
Phillips again was his favorite target, getting to the cusp of a single-game Hokies receptions record with 12 catches for 109 yards at the half. He’d tie and break the record of 13 held by Nick Cullen and Donald Snell, doing so in grand fashion.
Jackson hit Phillips on a post route for a 31-yard touchdown that put the Hokies up 29-17 early in the third quarter. The record-setter came two drives later, when Jackson went over the top to Phillips for a 45-yard touchdown and a 43-17 lead.
Travon McMillian got in on the action, too, accounting for 72 of the Hokies’ 287 rushing yards and catching a pop pass from Jackson across the middle and racing away from the beleaguered ECU defense for a 70-yard touchdown to split Phillips’ two third-quarter touchdown catches.
Sean Savoy added a 9-yard touchdown catch and Jalen Holston powered in for a 1-yard touchdown run, the first of his career, to conclude a 34point third quarter for the Hokies.
It was one shy of the most points Tech has
Gordon Collins (6) tucks in a touchdown pass from Kyle Lauletta (5). Howard’s Tye Freeland is late with the tackle. Lauletta set a school record with six TD passes before leaving with 12 minutes left in the third quarter.
Howard coach Mike London says he’s shaping a program at Howard, which includes guiding his players in the classroom and off the field.