The No. 1 Crimson Tide returned a punt, a kick and an interception for a touchdown in the first half at the Georgia Dome, taking a 28-10 lead into the locker room.
Christion Jones had both the returns, going 72 yards on the punt and 94 yards on the kickoff. Vinnie Sunseri added a 32-yard interception return for a score.
It dealt a devastating blow to the Hokies’ chances, despite Virginia Tech holding a 155-97 advantage in total offense.
Jones’ punt return came a minute and a half into the game, right after a Tech three-and-out. Alabama made it 14-0 later in the first quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by T.J. Yeldon.
The Hokies showed their first signs of life on the ensuing drive, busting running back Trey Edmunds loose up the middle for a 77-yard touchdown run on only his third career carry. Alabama’s defense only allowed 76.36 rushing yards per game last year. Edmunds had 106 rushing yards at the break.
The Tech defense forced a three-and-out, but the Hokies squandered all momentum. Receiver D.J. Coles cut off his route, allowing Sunseri to jump it for an interception of Logan Thomas and a touchdown to make it 21-7 Tide.
The Hokies answered. Cornerback Kyle Fuller, who took a shot to the head early and had to come out briefly, returned and intercepted an AJ McCarron pass to give Tech the ball at the Alabama 34. Cody Journell made a 39-yard field goal to make it 21-10.
But Jones somehow broke free from a scrum of players on the following kickoff, breaking free up the sidelines for a 94-yard touchdown that made it 28-10.
Thomas finished the first half 3-for-14 for 40 yards and an interception, although the receivers had several drops.