Jones leaves mark on national stage

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Two plays into the fourth quarter, Virginia Tech found itself protecting a 21-19 lead over Texas A&M. By the end of the game, the Hokies established themselves as a top-10 team and Kevin Jones did the same for himself in the Heisman race.

Virginia Tech won 35-19 at Lane Stadium on Thursday night because it dominated the last quarter, with, as center Jake Grove called it, "Kevin right, Kevin left." Jones gained 63 of his 188 yards and scored one of his three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. He even flattened the Aggies' Jaxson Appel as soon as Appel intercepted a Bryan Randall pass in the third quarter.

"It was kind of a dream game," Jones said, "being on national TV. Show up in big games. That's what I wanted to do."

After job-sharing last season with Lee Suggs, Jones has the tailback position all to himself this year. But he came out of the opening game against Central Florida after taking a hit on his shin. Then he came out of the James Madison game after a late hit sent him into the Lane Stadium wall wrists-first.

"I didn't finish either one of those games," Jones said. "For this one, I tried to read the defense. I watched film. I prepared myself more because I knew the type of team they were."

On this rainy, windy night, Hokies offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring guessed that three-quarters of the game plan would be ditched, and that the Hokies would have to run. Of 60 offensive plays, 47 stayed on the ground. That's easy to do with a fast, bruising back like Jones.

"I see him practice," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "He's a real talent playing against a good defense, and he like those challenges. I think he'll rise up to those challenges. So I'm not surprised at all."

The Hokies are 3-0. Jones is in the Heisman race. Virginia Tech made this a night to remember, hurricane or not.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ivan.maisel@espn3.com.