Virginia Tech spots Duke 20, rallies to win, 41-20

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech didn't panic Saturday when faced with a massive first-quarter deficit against visiting Duke.
The Hokies kept their cool during a dreadful start and stormed back to beat Duke, 41-20, at Lane Stadium.
Virginia Tech came back from a 20-point first-quarter deficit, their biggest comeback in Frank Beamer's 26 years as coach.
"A lot of people would panic," said Beamer, whose 255th victory tied former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne for seventh on the all-time Football Bowl Subdivision list.
"A lot of people would start pointing fingers, but our guys hung in there."
Virginia Tech (4-3, 2-1 in the ACC) avoided a three-game losing streak and prevented the Blue Devils (5-2, 2-1) from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 1994.
"It's difficult emotionally and it feels like our bubble burst," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. "I told the team that you have to let this go from an emotional standpoint."
The Hokies fell behind, 20-0, in the first quarter, but scored the last 41 points.
Junior quarterback Logan Thomas led the charge with 256 passing yards and two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Marcus Davis was Thomas' favorite target with five catches for a career-high 144 yards and two touchdowns.
Tailback J.C. Coleman became Virginia Tech's first 100-yard rusher of the season with 183 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
"It kind of took me back to high school when I had a lot of long runs and everything," Coleman said. "It just felt good to finally be able to break through and finally be able to have a big game."
The Hokies allowed 150 yards to Duke in the first quarter, but settled down and yielded only 189 the rest of the game.
Virginia Tech recorded a season-high five sacks, matching its total from the previous four games, and also forced a season-high four turnovers.
The Hokies took their first lead of the game on Coleman's 45-yard touchdown run two minutes into the third quarter.
Virginia Tech added a 47-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to Davis and Cody Journell's 41-yard field goal in the third quarter to make it 34-20.
Coleman finished off the scoring with an 86-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
Duke held a 20-10 lead and was driving late in the second quarter when Virginia Tech safety Detrick Bonner intercepted a tipped pass from quarterback Sean Renfree and returned it 39 yards to the Duke 42.
On the next play, Thomas completed a 42-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Davis to cut the deficit to 20-17.
Duke, which scored 27 points combined in its previous five games in Blacksburg, outscored Virginia Tech, 20-0, in the first 12 minutes.
"About two-and-a-half, three hours ago, all of us would be feeling a bit differently if the game ended after the first quarter," Cutcliffe said.
The Blue Devils struck early on a 62-yard touchdown pass from Renfree to wide receiver Jamison Crowder with 12:16 remaining in the first quarter.
The Hokies' offense got off to another slow start, drawing boos from the crowd early, but bounced back to finish with 525 total yards, its highest tally since gaining 605 against Wake Forest in 2010.
Duke went ahead, 13-0, on two field goals by Ross Martin and then opened up its lead on a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown by safety Jordon Byas.
Thomas threw a swing pass to tailback Tony Gregory, who tapped the ball into the air while trying to make the catch. Byas snatched the ball out of the air and ran it all the way back.
NOTES: Starting center Andrew Miller of Virginia Tech sustained a broken left ankle in the third quarter. He will be re-evaluated Sunday. ... Quarterback Sean Renfree of Duke returned to the starting lineup after missing last week's game because of an elbow injury. ... Tony Gregory and J.C. Coleman both started for the second time this season in Virginia Tech's two-back set. ... Gregory returned to the field after missing the previous two games because of a knee injury. ... Duke kicker Ross Martin broke the school freshman records for field goals in a season (10) and points in a season (59). ... Hokies tight end Ryan Malleck started in place of Eric Martin (shoulder).