Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

September 22, 2013

Tech triumphs

Hokies need three OTs to put away Thundering Herd

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Logan Thomas ran 2 yards for a touchdown and then ran for the 2-point conversion in the third overtime Saturday, as Virginia Tech overcame a sloppy performance and beat Marshall 29-21.

The Hokies (3-1), who tied the game with 3:09 left in regulation, got the ball first in the third overtime after neither team had scored in the first two.

Thomas put some plays together. He ran for 2 yards, hit Chris Mangus for 10, ran for 2, and hit Josh Stanford. After a pass interference call on the Herd, Thomas bolted through the line for the touchdown, and then the PAT.

Marshall (2-2) got to the Hokies 14, but then Rakeem Cato couldn’t find a receiver, and when Davonte Allen couldn’t come up with his fourth-down pass in the end zone, the marathon game was finally over.

The game was played in a sometimes driving rain, and it was especially sloppy for the Hokies.

Virginia Tech trailed 21-14 when it drove from its 17 to the Marshall 1, where it had a first down late in the fourth quarter. After Trey Edmunds lost 2 yards, Thomas fumbled the next snap and fell on it for a 3-yard loss. Thomas gained 4 back on third down, and then hit Willie Byrn for the touchdown.

The ball went through defensive back Darryl Roberts’ fingertips before Byrn caught it.

Marshall had a chance to win it in regulation when Cato hit Devon Smith for 43 yards on third-and-13 from his 19 to the Hokies’ 34. But when Smith got behind the defense again, and Cato hit him in stride, safety Kyshoen Jarrett met him at the ball and intercepted it, preserving the tie.

In the first overtime, the Hokies went backwards and sent backup placekicker Ethan Keyserling out to try a 50-yard field goal, and it never had a chance. Justin Haig had a chance to then win it for the Thundering Herd, but his 39-yard attempt was blocked by Derrick Hopkins, forcing the second overtime.

Hopkins came up big in the second OT, too, scooping up a fumble on a sack from Cato and trying to return it, but the 311-pounder was pulled down from behind after rumbling into Herd territory.

The Hokies played it safe for the field goal, but Keyserling missed wide right from 32 yards.

For much of the day, the Thundering Herd seemed in charge with Cato repeatedly coming up with big third-down conversions against the nation’s second-ranked defense.

Marshall took a 21-14 lead by scoring on three consecutive possessions in the first half.

Cato’s 12-yard pass on third-and-goal made it 7-all, and after the Hokies drove 89 yards to Thomas’ 2-yard dive, Cato tied it again by scrambling 4 yards for the touchdown. On the play, officials ignored an apparent holding penalty, and Cato’s fake flip froze linebacker Jack Tyler, allowing Cato to score.

Virginia Tech also was called for two 15-yard facemask calls on the drive.

Monterius Lovett’s interception of Thomas, who threw into double coverage, set the Herd up at their own 28 on the next drive, and Cato needed just seven plays to go 72 yards for the touchdown. Taliaferro had consecutive runs of 19 and 23 yards, and Gator Hoskins 13-yard catch made put the Herd ahead, 21-14.

The Hokies drove from their 8 to the Marshall 19 late in the half, helped by a 12-yard run by punter A.J. Hughes and a pass interference call on a fourth-and-8 play, but Thomas threw incomplete on his next three attempts, and backup placekicker Ethan Keyserling’s 36-yard field goal try hit the left upright.

The Hokies’ regular kicker, Cody Journell, missed four kicks last week and was not dressed.

Very early, the Hokies looked like the team that rose to national prominence.

After Marshall drove to just past midfield, it was forced to punt, and Kyle Fuller darted it and blocked it, and Derek DiNardo picked up the bouncing ball at the 11 and walked into the end zone.

It was 7-0 after just two minutes.

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