BLACKSBURG, Va. — David Wilson didn't even wait to get to the locker room at halftime before finding running backs coach Shane Beamer and giving him a simple message.
"We need to run the ball more," Wilson said he told the head coach's son.
The coaches agreed. When Wilson gave the Hokies the lead with a 42-yard touchdown run on their first possession of the second half, No. 16 Virginia Tech had finally found its offensive rhythm and was on its way to a 30-14 victory against surprisingly stubborn Boston College.
"I was like, 'Let's run the ball,'" said Wilson, who had just six carries for 21 yards in the first half but finished with 17 for 134. "I felt like we were getting away from what we do."
Logan Thomas took over after Wilson's long run gave the Hokies a 13-7 lead. He hit Marcus Davis for a 20-yard touchdown, and then ran in from the 1, giving the Hokies a 27-7 lead.
Thomas said getting back to what the Hokies do helped jump-start the offense.
"It softened up the defense. They had to honor the run a lot more," he said. "They'd drop back for a pass, I'd give David the ball and let him do his thing. It's kind of hand in hand."
The Hokies (7-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their third in a row, all games in which Thomas has scored at least one touchdown on the ground and through the air.
Linebacker and leading tackler Bruce Taylor left the game in the third quarter with a foot injury and linebacker Alonzo Tweedy was sidelined with an ankle injury. And that was after defensive end Jaymes Gayle returned from an ankle injury but tweaked it again early in the first quarter. The status of Taylor and Tweedy was not known.
The injuries made the Hokies' defensive performance all the more impressive. The Eagles' first touchdown drive covered just 35 yards on their opening series after a shanked punt, and their last — 72 yards in 11 plays — came in the fourth quarter with the Hokies leading 27-7.
"Once we got inside the 50, we stalled," Eagles quarterback Chase Rettig said. He accounted for both scores, running two yards for the first and hitting Chris Pantale for a 7-yard TD.
Eagles linebacker Luke Kuechly, who had 19 tackles to stay on pace for an NCAA record, said the attention to getting Wilson involved after halftime highlighted his potential.
"He's a player. That's what you have to realize," Kuechly said, scoffing at people who last year described Wilson as a backup to Ryan Williams and Darren Evans, both now in the NFL.
"He's a time bomb and it's only a matter of time before he's going to hit one," he said.
The Hokies had plenty of trouble in the first half, managing just a pair of field goals.
After Wilson softened things up with his long run — Thomas rolled right with him, then made an option pitch to Wilson once defenders closed in — Thomas was able to get going, too. He was 10 for 11 for 126 yards after halftime, and 22 for 36 overall for 268 yards.
Thomas also ran 16 times for 60 yards.
The Eagles mounted their first real drive after Wilson scored, but on first-and-10 from the Hokies' 22, Tariq Edwards intercepted Rettig's pass at the 11, and Tech drove again.
Two runs by Wilson covered the first 20 yards, and Thomas had a 29-yard completion to Danny Coale before throwing one up for Davis to go get in the end zone on the next play. The 6-foot-4 Davis easily came down with the ball despite close coverage by 6-1 cornerback Donnie Fletcher.
After another Eagles punt, a 31-yard pass from Thomas to Coale highlighted a 56-yard march, with the 6-6 Thomas first converting a fourth-and-1, and then diving in for the score to make it 27-7 with 13:42 to play.
The Eagles struck quickly after holding the Hokies to a three-and-out on their opening series, with the help of a 9-yard punt by Michael Branthover that set them up at the Tech 35.
On second-and-12, Rettig hit Colin Larmond for 35 yards, then ran it in on the next play.
Rettig finished 13 for 30 for 181 yards. He was sacked four times.
"Rettig made some nice plays early and later on he made some nice plays, but there was a lot of pressure on his," Eagles coach Frank Spaziani said. "When you are back and people are in your face right away, it's not good and it affects your decision-making, obviously."
The Hokies got field goals by Cody Journell of 26, 36 and 24 yards.
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