AP Sports Writer
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - Bowling Green played an ambitious nonconference schedule to get ready for conference play.
Now that that first part is over, the Falcons can only hope the rewards come in the weeks ahead.
The Falcons (1-3), who played Florida tough in The Swamp in their opener, had no such luck against a Virginia Tech team intent on finding its running game and getting its season back on a good track.
Logan Thomas threw for two touchdowns and ran for another and the Hokies (3-1) gained 246 yards on the ground Saturday and handed the Falcons their first shutout loss in 170 games, 37-0.
"If your team is mentally tough, it prepares you for the conference," Falcons coach Dave Clawson said of the rough nonconference slate, which also included a 21-13 home victory against Idaho.
"Obviously, when you get shut out, it's not a good day," Clawson, in his fourth year, continued. "We're not where we need to be. We're not where we want to be. We have a lot of work to get there."
Neither were the Hokies, until the Falcons arrived at Lane Stadium.
"It was a huge challenge," linebacker Paul Swan said. "We thought we were up to it."
Thomas, who had been reluctant to run in the first three games, had key runs on three consecutive drives in the second quarter. Each ended with a touchdown as the Hokies built a 21-0 lead.
The Falcons managed just 71 yards in the first half, switched quarterbacks midway through the third quarter and turned the ball over on downs three times in Hokies territory in the second half.
Thomas threw scoring passes of 10 yards to J.C. Coleman and 42 yards to Dyrell Roberts and ran 1 yard for another score, all in the second quarter. Not counting a sack, Thomas ran for 45 yards in the half.
After managing just 96 rushing yards last week in a 35-17 loss at Pittsburgh, the Hokies seemed determined to get their ground game going, but then bumbled their way through the first three series. The third possession ended after Thomas fumbled the snap on a third-and-9 play, rolled right and sailed a pass well over the head of Marcus Davis, and the offense left the field to a chorus of boos.
Once the Hokies found a rhythm, however, the Falcons were no match.
Thomas ran for 14 yards on a draw on the Hokies' fourth series, and showed his frustration on a simple 3-yard run a short time later. A step from the sideline, he declined to step out of bounds and instead lowered his shoulder into defensive end Charlie Walker to gain an extra yard, firing up his team.
A 17-yard run by Tony Gregory, Thomas' 3-yard run on third-and-1 and a 10-yard pass to Roberts set up the touchdown. It came on Thomas' swing pass to Coleman, who dove for the left pylon.
Michael Holmes' 15-yard punt return set up the next drive, and it took just four plays. After Thomas' 5-yard run on third-and-1, he found Roberts behind a defender for a 42-yard TD pass to make it 14-0.
After the Falcons punted again, Thomas hit Davis for 13 yards on third-and-9 and Roberts for 11 yards on third-and-6 to the 16. Thomas' 15-yard run got it to the 1, and he dove in on the next play.
Holmes, replaced in the starting backfield by Gregory, scored from 2 yards in the third quarter after setting it up with a 40-yard burst, and Martin Scales scored on a 4-yard run with 9:22 remaining.
Gregory led the Hokies with 68 yards on 11 carries, and Thomas gained 65 on 15 tries.
The Falcons finished with 266 total yards.
On their best scoring chance in the first half, Stephen Stein missed a 43-yard field goal, the ball slamming into the right upright. It was Bowling Green's fourth miss in five field goal tries this year.
After Matt Johnson replaced starting quarterback Matt Schilz _ 9-for-25, 87 yards _ in the third quarter, the Falcons failed to convert fourth-down plays from the Hokies' 15-, 28- and 18-yard lines.
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(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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