Virginia Tech's offense holds despite sputtering late

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech had to play the whole game.

The No. 20 Hokies rolled to a big early lead, then held off Western Kentucky for a 27-13 victory Saturday before a sellout homecoming crowd at Lane Stadium.

"I think they're all going to be down to the fourth quarter," said coach Frank Beamer, whose team built a 27-3 lead early in the third quarter before its offense sputtered.

Western Kentucky frequently opted to go without a quarterback on the field and instead snapped the ball directly to tailback Dexter Taylor. The Hilltoppers kicked a field goal late in the third quarter to make it 27-6, then recovered an onside kick.

"We took a lot of pride in trying to match one of the best special teams in the country," coach David Elson said. "We executed it well."

The Hilltoppers (2-4) then drove 50 yards, again without a quarterback on the field, before David Wolke came on to throw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Tristan Jones that made it 27-13 with 11:58 left in the game.

"Once we got the lead we kind of let down a little bit," said Greg Boone, who caught a 27-yard pass for the Hokies' first touchdown. "We just got a little complacent."

Western Kentucky went three-and-out on its next possession, though, and the Hokies held on for their 30th consecutive win at home against a nonconference foe.

Darren Evans ran for two touchdowns and Tyrod Taylor's scoring pass to Boone was his first of the year, coming with 5:10 left in the first quarter. Dustin Keys had field goals of 22 and 27 yards.

Taylor finished with 125 yards passing for the Hokies, before being replaced by former starter Sean Glennon with 8:58 left in the third quarter.

Wolke was just 7-of-19 for 49 yards for Western Kentucky. Dexter Taylor and Bobby Rainey combined to carry 22 times for 150 yards.

Evans' first score, from 1 yard out, gave the Hokies a 17-3 lead with 25 seconds left in the first half.

Two plays later, Victor Harris intercepted a pass from Wolke and returned it 49 yards to the Hilltopper's 5, setting up a 22-yard field goal by Keys just before halftime.

Evans, who finished with 79 yards on 21 carries, added a 2-yard scoring run with 10:39 left in the third quarter to give Virginia Tech a 27-3 lead.

The Hokies lost their starting tailback, Kenny Lewis Jr., who ruptured his Achilles' tendon in the third quarter and will be out for the season.

"He was the leader of our bunch," Evans said. "With him not being around, somebody has to step up."