BLACKSBURG, Va. – Through a driving rainstorm and three overtimes, the Marshall football team had its chances to steal a win over Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium. Yet with each opportunity, the Thundering Herd fell just short.
In the end, the Hokies burst through the opening Marshall couldn't reach, as quarterback Logan Thomas' two-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion run in the third overtime gave Virginia Tech a 29-21 win Saturday afternoon.
The Herd had a chance to match it, but quarterback Rakeem Cato's last three passes fell incomplete, including a fourth-down pass in the back left corner of the end zone that went through receiver Davonte Allen's hands.
"I'm proud of the kids," Marshall Coach Doc Holliday said. "I'm proud of the way we played, but we all know there are no moral victories at Marshall. We came here to win the football game."
The Herd was winning the game, 21-14, when Thomas capped a 14-play, 83-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown to Willie Byrn with 3:09 left. And, in prime example of the wackiness of the day, Marshall corner Darryl Roberts deflected Thomas' pass, but Byrn was there to pull it in.
Marshall (2-2) held Virginia Tech scoreless in the first overtime, as the Hokies (3-1) were pushed back to the 33-yard line and Ethan Keyserling's 50-yard field goal attempt fell well short during the downpour. But the Herd came back with its own waterlogged field goal attempt, running Essray Taliaferro up the middle three times for three yards before Justin Haig's 39-yard attempt was blocked.
Holliday defended the strategy by pointing out the deteriorating on-field conditions.
"I thought at that point it was sloppy out there," he said. "I felt that he had been consistent from the 25-yard line and we felt that he could put us in a position to win the game, and unfortunately we couldn't get it done."
Taliaferro saved the Herd in the second overtime, as Cato fumbled on a sack, defensive lineman Derrick Hopkins corralled the ball and rumbled 40 yards before Taliaferro made a touchdown-saving tackle. Keyserling's second overtime field goal attempt, a 32-yarder, sailed wide right.
That led to Thomas' go-ahead touchdown and Marshall's futile attempt to answer. On one of those passes on the final drive, the replay showed a possible pass interference penalty on Virginia Tech that went uncalled, receiver Tommy Shuler unsuccessfully arguing that his shoulder pad was pulled out of his jersey.
It was just one wild play out of many, all happening as rain drenched everyone in Lane Stadium. Tech's first score came from its vaunted special teams unit, a blocked punt that Derek DiNardo snatched and ran 11 yards for a touchdown. Later, Gator Hoskins caught a 13-yard touchdown from Cato one play after he and Kendall Fuller were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for fighting. Cato looked like he might have had a deep touchdown throw to Devon Smith, but Smith and Hokies defensive back Kyshoen Jarrett collided at the goal line. Smith ended up on the grass and Jarrett ended up in the end zone with the football.