GREENVILLE, North Carolina — For once, Virginia Tech had no way to stop East Carolina from running the football.
The Pirates got a huge performance from backup quarterback James Summers and ran for 182 yards in Saturday's 35-28 win against the Hokies. Compare that to the fact the Pirates ran for a total of 106 yards in the previous three meetings, including minus-15 yards in the Hokies' 2011 win here in Greenville.
Nearly all that production came from Summers, who ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
"He ran better than we tackled," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "He's got ability."
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster said his team missed too many tackles during a game played in steady and sometimes heavy rain.
"We had a couple times where we were right there, hit them in the hole and we missed a tackle," Foster said.
Summers accounted for three touchdowns, two coming on the ground in a bigger-than-expected role amid rainy conditions. He went from change-of-pace option behind Blake Kemp to the guy powering the Pirates (2-2) to their first home win against the Hokies (2-2) in 23 years.
Trevon Brown and Isaiah Jones each had touchdown catches for East Carolina, which ditched its pass-heavy ways and kept the ball on the ground. Summers carried the ball on 21 of ECU's 43 run plays, more than double their pass attempts in an unusual look under Ruffin McNeill.
Brenden Motley ran and threw for a score for the Hokies, who jumped to a 14-0 lead by capitalizing on two early turnovers only to squander that lead by the end of the opening quarter.
Virginia Tech had won two straight since an opening loss to top-ranked Ohio State, and was coming off a big offensive performance in last week's win at Purdue. But they ended up losing to the Pirates for the second straight season, both coming by seven-point margins, while ECU ended its own two-game skid.
The Pirates secured this one with a final-drive stop, with Motley's desperation heave downfield falling incomplete and well short of the end zone to end it.
McNeill had said this week Summers — a one-time major instate recruit who ended up in junior college — would get some work against the Hokies despite Kemp's solid play of late. But no one could have predicted he'd put on the kind of show he did Saturday, befuddling Foster's defense with his mobility and just enough on-target throws sprinkled in to keep the Hokies off balance.
The highlight came late in the third when Summers spun off a would-be tackler, shoved another to the ground and sprinted to the end zone for a 41-yard run that put the Pirates up 35-21 with 3:43 left in the third.
Summers completed 5 of 8 passes for 110 yards and a 26-yard TD to Jones on a fourth down.
Kemp shook off a disastrous start that included turnovers on his first two drives, which gave the Hokies short fields that they converted into touchdowns for a 14-0 lead. But Kemp bounced back in leading a pair of scoring drives, with his 11-yard TD throw to Brown — who was back from a three-game suspension — tying it at 14 to end the first quarter.
Virginia Tech linebacker Sean Huelskamp was ejected for targeting when he tackled a sliding Summers midway through the fourth.