BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – Josh Jackson threw three touchdown passes and No. 14 Virginia Tech scored on fumble, interception and punt returns to rout North Carolina 59-7 on Saturday.
Jackson passed for 132 yards and the Hokies (6-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) dominated in sending the Tar Heels (1-7, 0-5) to their fifth straight loss.
Off last week, Virginia Tech looked rested and focused and played that way, scoring in all three phases in the first half and bolting to a 35-0 halftime lead. Virginia Tech scored twice on defense, getting the first score of the game on defensive tackle Ricky Walker’s 12-yard fumble return.
The Hokies added Greg Stroman’s 91-yard punt return for a touchdown – his second punt return for a score this season – and defensive back Reggie Floyd’s 69-yard interception return for a score.
North Carolina only got into Virginia Tech territory three times, turned the ball over three times, and finished with just 172 yards.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels gave up 59 points, but their issues are on offense. They played three quarterbacks – Chazz Surratt, Brandon Harris and Nathan Elliott – and none were effective. Their three turnovers led to 21 Virginia Tech points.
Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech’s defense might have played its best game of the season, as it thoroughly controlled the game until the fourth quarter when coordinator Bud Foster started substituting. Aside from 43-yard touchdown pass from Surratt to Anthony Ratliff, the Hokies didn’t give up any big plays and registered a season-high six sacks.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels obviously aren’t in the polls and are experiencing one of their tougher seasons in recent memory.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies should move up in the poll, considering their strong performance Saturday and given Oklahoma State’s unimpressive overtime victory over Texas.
North Carolina: The road doesn’t get any easier for the Tar Heels, who face Coastal Division-leading Miami next Saturday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies remain at home, where they will face Duke next Saturday. Virginia Tech has lost its past two games against the Blue Devils at home.