Virginia Tech surmounts ECU’s hot start with 57 unanswered points

Published 9:39 pm Saturday, September 16, 2017

GREENVILLE — Nearly 44,000 fans filled Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday for East Carolina’s clash with No. 16 Virginia Tech. The crowd for parent’s weekend was a golden panoramic for the players on the field who, despite being manhandled in their first two outings, created an atmosphere reminiscent of ECU’s winning ways of the not-too-distant past.

The Pirates took it to the Hokies early on. Quarterback Gardner Minshew hit tight end Stephen Baggett over the middle for 41 yards, setting up Davon Grayson for a 9-yard touchdown pass that put ECU ahead 7-0 and elicited a roar from the fans.

Wideout Trevon Brown broke loose for a 76-yard touchdown — one week after setting a program record with a 95-yard score at West Virginia — and Jake Verity’s field goal on ECU’s third drive gave it a 17-7 lead over its Atlantic Coast Conference foe.

That was all for the Pirates. Virginia Tech rattled off 57 unanswered points to drub the Pirates, 64-17. All-star freshman quarterback Josh Jackson threw for 372 yards and five touchdowns. Cam Phillips caught three of them and amassed 189 receiving yards. Three different running backs scored.

“I thought we came out and started the game hard, played really hard,” head coach Scottie Montgomery said. “… (Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud) Foster did a good job shifting right after we snapped the football. It changed the scheme.”

The Hokies’ ability to adjust to what ECU was getting in the air took the air out of the Pirates. Minshew finished the game 11-of-30 passing for 241 yards after a high-flying start on the first three drives.

Moreover, ECU couldn’t muster up anything in the run game. Tyshon Dye rushed for 31 of the team’s 40 yards. Virginia Tech added 287 on the ground to finish with 675 yards of total offense.

“The (offensive) line, we’re going to go to film and watch what we did and what we could have done. Maybe I could have hit holes differently than I did,” Dye said. “… I was a little frustrated. I was just trying to stay positive on the sideline because anything can happen. I didn’t get too frustrated. I just had the mindset that, if I get the ball, I’m going to try to do what I can.”

ECU’s defense spent plenty of time on the field as the Hokies possessed the ball for just over 39 minutes. The Pirates took a blow to depth with injuries sustained by Tim Irvin, Devon Sutton, and Korrin Wiggins. Wiggins had an exceptional outing with 10 tackles, including a takedown for a loss of nine yards. Jordan Williams and Bobby Fulp each had double-digit tackles, too.

ECU hopes to take