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September 12, 2011

Wilson's bold prediction rings true; Hokies end opening-game woes

By: Jimmy Robertson

Earlier in the week before Tech’s season opener against Appalachian State, Tech running backs coach Shane Beamer went over the first few plays that the offensive staff wanted to call in the game.

David Wilson, taking over at the tailback spot in place of the departed Ryan Williams and Darren Evans, told Beamer not to bother with the second play or the third play.

I was getting the first carry and then I told them I wasn’t going to need the second play because I was going to take it to the crib,” he said.

Then he paused.

David Wilson

“But I wasn’t thinking it was going to happen.”

Wilson indeed scored on Tech’s very first offensive play of the season, ripping off a 20-yard touchdown run following an Appalachian State turnover. That sparked what turned out to be a huge day for him and the Hokies, as Tech demolished the Mountaineers 66-13 in the season opener at Lane Stadium.

The 66 points were the second-most points scored by a Frank Beamer team, coming shy of the 77 scored against Akron in 1995, and the 53-point margin of victory was the Hokies’ sixth-largest margin under Beamer. The game marked just the second time ever an Appalachian State team had allowed 60 points or more in a game.

The win snapped a three-game string of opening day setbacks. Last year, Tech not only lost its opener to Boise State, but also the next game against another FCS foe in James Madison. Three scores on their first three possessions helped the Hokies end any thoughts of a repeat.

“I wasn’t even comparing this game to James Madison,” Wilson said. “We were playing App State, and it was the beginning of the season. I was approaching this game like I do with all our opponents, and me being a starting tailback, I feel like I have an effect on how the game turns out.”

Wilson certainly did that, finishing with 162 yards on 16 carries and scoring on runs of 20, 19 and 3 yards. Behind Wilson, Tech rushed for 256 yards and finished with 518 yards of total offense.

Truthfully, things went just about perfectly for the Hokies. In addition to Wilson’s performance, Tech quarterback Logan Thomasthrew two touchdown passes in his starting debut. Tech’s defense allowed a mere 293 yards, most of which came late in the game, and forced four turnovers. Plus, the special teams got in the act, with Tony Gregory blocking a punt that was recovered by Kyle Fuller in the end zone for a touchdown.

“I give credit to our team,” Beamer said. “I thought they were well prepared, and we played well for the most part. There were a lot of things to feel good about.”

Thomas completed 9 of 19 for 149 yards, with two touchdowns. A 7-yard scoring strike to backup tight end Randall Dunn enabled the Hokies to take a 38-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. Thomas then opened the second half with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jarrett Boykin.

“I don’t think we could have drawn it up any better,” Thomas said of the opener. “Especially the first play, giving it to David. He had 16 carries. He’s a great player. Give him the ball as much as possible.”

Tech also got fine performances from receiver Marcus Davis, who caught three passes for a career-high 140 yards and two touchdowns – both from backup quarterback Mark Leal. The redshirt freshman completed 6 of 9 for 113 yards.

Defensively, Tech held the Mountaineers to just 117 yards rushing and 3.2 yards per carry. The Hokies also intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble.

“Defensively, we came out strong,” said Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, who had one of those three interceptions. “We had confidence coming in, and we had a good game plan. Coach [Bud] Foster and everyone were confident in the game plan. We just had to execute, and we did that for the most part. It was good to come out with a victory, and it was good to get those turnovers and see the offense capitalize on them.”

Behind Wilson, that certainly happened. The junior got a good start on his way to accomplishing his numerous goals, which include breaking the single-season and single-game rushing records, scoring 20 touchdowns, not fumbling at all and becoming an All-American.

“Hopefully,” he said. “this is just the beginning.”