BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- The kicker keeps hitting field goals and the defense continues coming up strong -- a combination that makes up for a struggling offense.
Brandon Pace kicked three field goals to extend his string of successful kicks to a school-record 19 Saturday and No. 20 Virginia Tech (8-2) allowed just 182 yards in posting its third shutout of the season to beat Kent State 23-0.
"He's solid as a rock," coach Frank Beamer said of Pace, who hasn't missed since he made 3 of 4 against Boston College in a 30-10 victory on Oct. 27, 2005. "He gets into the ball very quickly and he gets it up very quickly. Those are two great assets."
The Hokies defense also accounted for its fourth touchdown this season -- and 68th under Beamer -- when Noland Burchette returned a fumble 15 yards.
"Right place, right time," Burchette said of his first touchdown. "Coach is always saying if you play hard and go to the ball, good things will happen."
Branden Ore added a 6-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for the Hokies, who gained only 214 yards while playing behind an already young offensive line that was missing two starters: Ryan Shuman with a knee injury and Brandon Frye with a sprained ankle.
"I think any time you lose your starters at a position where you probably don't need to be losing people, it affects you," Beamer said.
Kent State (5-5) managed nine first downs. The Golden Flashes did drive to the Virginia Tech 6 in the second half, but Michael Machen was sacked by Carlton Powell for a 9-yard loss, and Nate Reed missed a field goal try from 32 yards.
"We were running the clock down trying to get into the fourth quarter with them," Kent State coach Doug Martin said.
Pace kicked field goals of 34, 37 and 24 yards for the Hokies, and now has the second-longest streak in Atlantic Coast Conference history. Marc Primanti of Maryland made 27 in a row in 1995 and '96.
"When it comes down to me to do something, I put points on the board," Pace said. "That's my job."
On the second play after Pace's third field goal made it 16-0, Hokies defensive end Chris Ellis sacked Machen, forcing the fumble that Burchette scored on.
Ore, who rushed for 72 yards, capped a 65-yard drive with his TD run with 10:42 left in the third quarter. The drive was highlighted by a 15-yard pass from Sean Glennon to David Clowney, and bolstered by 29 yards in penalties against Kent State.
Ore, who has gained more than 1,000 yards for the season, said the Golden Flashes "did a little bit more blitzing than we saw on film."
Kent State threatened midway through the third period, after Eddie Royal fumbled a 42-yard punt return and the Golden Flashes took over at their 11. Machen completed a 49-yard pass to Najah Pruden and Eugene Jarvis ran for 15 on the drive before Powell moved them back with one of the Hokies' three sacks and Reed's kick was off target.
The Golden Flashes were without starting quarterback Julian Edelman, who had a chest injury. Machen finished 6-for-16 for 98 yards with one interception.
Glennon was 12-for-22 for 141 yards. The Hokies had just 14 first downs.
Warned all week against taking the Mid-American Conference school lightly, Virginia Tech had gained just 38 yards on the ground and only led 6-0 at halftime on Pace's field goals.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Virginia Tech's Brandon Ore scored on a six-yard run to put the Hokies up 13-0 in the third quarter.
Gameball goes to... Brandon Pace. The Hokies' kicker connected on three field goals, extending his consecutive makes streak to 19.
Stat of the game... 3. The Virginia Tech defense pitched its third shutout of the season.