Teel Time: Thomas at his best when Virginia Tech needed him most against Georgia Tech

Logan Thomas passed for 140 yards in the fourth quarter Monday

The rookie saved them. So, too, the forgiven kicker, former track star and entire defensive line.

But Virginia Tech’s Hokies survived the first overtime game in Lane Stadium history Monday night only when their best player finally rose up.

For much of this season-opener against Georgia Tech, Logan Thomas was, in his word, “garbage.” The quarterback who shredded the Yellow Jackets last season, was wild high, wild low, wild wide.

With Georgia Tech leading in the fourth quarter, with Lane Stadium hushed, Virginia Tech needed Thomas more than ever.

Thomas responded. He passed for 140 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter and directed a last-ditch drive that produced the tying field goal.

Cornerback Kyle Fuller then intercepted a Tevin Washington heave in overtime to set up Cody Journell’s decisive 17-yard field goal.

“I leave extremely encouraged,” Thomas said after the 20-17 victory. “I know we didn’t play our best game the first three quarters, and in the fourth quarter we turned it on.”

It was an odd game, as many Tech-Tech affairs have been.

Driving toward a two-score lead, the Hokies appeared poised to seize command in the first half. But the march stalled, and freshman punter A.J. Hughes mishandled a high snap from Joe St. Germain, giving the Yellow Jackets a short field at Virginia Tech’s 24.

Three plays later, the game was tied at 7.

Defending Paul Johnson’s option offense like few others, the Hokies crossed midfield repeatedly, only to fizzle. Linemen such as Derrick Hopkins, Luther Maddy and J.R. Collins were stuffing the dive, and linebackers Jack Tyler (17 tackles) and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (11) were plugging gaps.

“I thought our defense played spectacular,” Tyler said.

That they did, until Georgia Tech’s time-of-possession edge – the Yellow Jackets hogged the ball for 12:52 of the third quarter – exacted its toll.

With 9:16 remaining in regulation, Virginia Tech trailed 10-7 and had gained 34 yards in the second half. Thomas had not completed a pass of longer than 16 yards.

A 35-yard strike to Marcus Davis awakened Lane, a gain spared when Corey Fuller, Kyle’s brother and a former Kansas sprinter and triple-jumper, pounced on Davis’ fumble. On the very next play, Thomas hit freshman Demitri Knowles for 42 yards and a go-ahead touchdown.

Coach Frank Beamer likened Knowles’ speed to Bryan Still, who averaged nearly 20 yards a catch in 1995. The Hokies won the Big East that season, and in a Sugar Bowl upset of Texas, Still caught a 54-yard touchdown pass and returned a punt 60 yards for a score.

Knowles not only ran past cornerback Rod Sweeting but also caught the ball despite pass interference.

“I don’t think that’s going to be the last defensive back he runs by,” Beamer said.

But the defense remained gassed. Washington eluded Collins’ rush to convert a fourth-and-6 with a 19-yard rope to B.J. Bostic, and then flipped a 10-yard scoring pass to Deon Hill with 44 seconds left.

“When they scored that touchdown with 44 seconds left, you’re thinking everything we worked for this summer, we just threw it away right there,” Tyler said.