ATLANTA — Logan Thomas accounted for five touchdowns, David Wilson rushed for a career-best 175 yards and No. 10 Virginia Tech took a huge step toward the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, beating No. 20 Georgia Tech 37-26 Thursday night.
Thomas threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores. Wilson had his seventh straight 100-yard game, already the longest streak of Frank Beamer's quarter-century as coach.
The teams went back and forth through the second and third quarters, scoring on eight of nine possessions in one stretch. But Virginia Tech (9-1, 5-1 ACC) took advantage of a huge personal foul on Jeremiah Attaochu and a fourth-down gamble by Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson that didn't pay off.
The Yellow Jackets (7-3, 4-3) were eliminated from the Coastal Division race.
Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington ran for three touchdowns, but the Hokies took the lead for good on Thomas' 12-yard run in the final minute of the third quarter. The play was typical for the 6-foot-6, 254-pound sophomore, who simply lowered his head and bulled his way to the end zone. The Yellow Jackets simply couldn't bring him down.
That touchdown was set up by Attaochu's huge blunder, which extended a possession that seemed to be over deep in Virginia Tech territory. On third-and-19 from his own 17, Thomas was flushed out of the pocket and corralled by several Georgia Tech defenders. But he wouldn't go down and, apparently out of frustration, Attaochu threw a punch into the side of the quarterback's helmet.
Instead of a knockout, he drew a personal foul gave Virginia Tech a first down — and very well could lead to a suspension for Attaochu after the ACC reviews the play. More important on this night, Wilson got loose for a 44-yard run and Thomas scored on a third-and-1 play that was designed to merely pick up the first down. He took it all the way to the end zone, giving the Hokies a 27-26 lead after a two-point pass was incomplete.
Then, it was Johnson who left himself open to second guessing when he decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 at his own 31. Washington tried to get it on a keeper, but he was stopped about a foot short.
For there, Virginia Tech moved in for the kill. The Hokies converted their own fourth-and-1, but that was an easier to call with make with Thomas to carry it. He bulled his way for a 5-yard gain, then hooked up with Chris Drager on his first career touchdown, a 14-yard pass on third down that made it 34-26.
Cody Journell sealed the victory, knocking through a 23-yard field goal with 3:02 remaining.
After a wild final minute of the second quarter, in which the teams combined for three scores that left Virginia Tech with a 21-13 lead, the Yellow Jackets took the second-half kickoff and drove it right down the field, 74 yards on eight plays.
Washington broke off a 35-yard run and also benefited from a personal foul penalty on Jack Tyler, who whacked Embry Peeples as he was running out of bounds, sending him flying toward the Yellow Jackets bench while yellow flags flew in from all directions. Washington finished it off with a 1-yard touchdown run, but he was stuffed on a 2-point conversion to leave Georgia Tech trailing 21-19.
No one could stop anyone, but Virginia Tech stopped itself. With the Hokies driving for another score, Wilson had the ball stripped away by Julian Burnett and Isaiah Johnson recovered at the 16 for the Yellow Jackets.
Back came Georgia Tech, reclaiming the lead with lightning-quick 84-yard drive that took only seven plays. Peeples went down the sideline for a 39-yard run and Washington nearly took it in with a 29-yard gain, before finishing it off with his third TD of the night on a 1-yard dive.
That would be the last hurrah for the Yellow Jackets, who were coming off an upset of then-unbeaten Clemson that sent fans storming the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium. This time, they filed out quietly on a cold night, while Virginia Tech and its contingent of fans celebrated the Hokies extending their ACC-record road winning streak to 12 in a row — currently the nation's longest run of success away from home.
The winner of this game has gone on to take every Coastal Division title, and Virginia Tech can make it five in seven years by winning its final two games. Rival Virginia, which has two ACC losses, is the only team that still has a chance to catch the Hokies.
Georgia Tech came out strong. On its very first possession, Peeples broke off a 39-yard run and Virginia Tech defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins foolishly jumped offsides when the Yellow Jackets lined up on fourth-and-5 as if they were going to go for it. Three plays later, Washington ran it in from the 2 for a 7-0 lead.
After a short punt, Virginia Tech took over at the Yellow Jackets 37 and finally got rolling early in the second quarter. Thomas hooked up with D.J. Coles on an 18-yard completion down to the 1, and the Hokies finally scored on fourth down from about an inch or two away. The towering sophomore simply leaned across line to make it 7-7.
Wilson got off to a sluggish start, but he was unstoppable when Virginia Tech got the ball back after the Yellow Jackets' second straight three-and-out. He ran it on four straight plays, breaking off gains of 26, 16 and 13 yards. Thomas zipped one over the middle to Boykin in the back of the end zone to give the Hokies their first lead of the night, 14-7.
Then came the back-and-forth finish to the half.
Georgia Tech drove for Justin Moore's 41-yard field goal with exactly 1 minute left. After the ensuing kickoff, Thomas threw deep to Coale on the very first snap. The receiver beat Louis Young, cut back to avoid Rashaad Reid and dove over the goal line after a desperation trip by Rod Sweeting for a 63-yard touchdown.
But the Yellow Jackets weren't done, either. Washington connected with Stephen Hill on a 41-yard pass and Moore booted through another field goal on the final play of the half, this one from 36 yards to cut the Hokies' lead to 21-13.