Marshall football: Herd falls in triple overtime to Virginia Tech, 29-21
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.
"We've got a way of making this thing interesting," Hokies Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster said.
The Herd made it frustrating for the Hokies defense. Entering Saturday's contest allowing just 190.7 yards per game, Marshall gained 361 for the entire game and actually gained 363 yards at the end of regulation. Cato completed 19 of 41 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions and was sacked four times.
"There haven't been too many teams that come here that pitch and catch like that," Hokies Coach Frank Beamer said. "Their wide receivers caught everything."
Taliaferro rushed for 105 yards on 26 carries, while Shuler caught 10 passes for 120 yards. Both Marshall's 228 passing yards and 133 rushing yards were the most the Hokies had allowed to any team in its first four games.
Meanwhile, Marshall's defense did what it could to neutralize Thomas. He completed 18 of 34 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown, but also threw two interceptions. He also took two sacks.
"We put some pressure on their big quarterback and were able to force him to make some bad throws," Holliday said.
The Hokies retaliated with 201 yards on the ground, led by Trey Edmunds and his 110 yards on 22 carries.
The Herd now has a bye week before returning to action Oct. 5 for a Homecoming Day matchup with the University of Texas at San Antonio at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
– Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.