Sept. 24, 2011
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Virginia Tech's impenetrable run defense, combined with four rushing touchdowns from the Hokie backfield, proved to be the deciding factor in the 30-10 victory over the Marshall Thundering Herd.
The game was the 11th meeting between the two programs and the loss is the first time Marshall had ever fallen to VT on home turf. Marshall dropped to 1-3, while VT improved to 4-0 with the victory.
Marshall was held to six rushing yards against the No. 4 rush defense in the nation, while VT was able to total 215 yards on the ground. The Hokies' defense was also able to sack Marshall's Rakeem Cato five times and hold the Herd to just 3 of 15 on third down conversions.
"Like I've said before, we cannot become one dimensional," noted Head Coach Doc Holliday on the offensive production. "We couldn't seem to get the running game going and our offense turned one dimensional. There are a lot of teams that become one dimensional against the Virginia Tech defense. We tried to run it, but we just didn't have much success."
On offense, the Hokies capitalized on five out of six red zone opportunities and limited Marshall to one visit inside the 20 yard line. VT also saw a short field all day, finishing with an average field position at the 37 yard line.
Cato finished 17 for 33 with 245 passing yards and one touchdown to Aaron Dobson. Dobson was Cato's favorite target with five receptions for 103 yards. Antavious Wilson finished with threee receptions for 72 yards.
VT's Logan Thomas went 22 for 33 with 229 passing yards and one rushing touchdown. Thomas connected with D.J. Coles for a team-leading 8 receptions and 66 yards. His second favorite target, Danny Coale, led the Hokies in receiving yards with 107 yards off seven receptions.
The Hokies had two other players score on the ground, along with Thomas. The No. 2 leading rusher in the ACC, David Wilson, combined for 132 yards on 26 carries and one touchdown and was followed by Josh Oglesby with 12 carries for 75 yards, including a 44 yard play to begin the third quarter, and two touchdowns.
Omar Brown led the Marshall defense with 17 tackles, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Monterius Lovett was involved in both of Virginia Tech's turnovers after finishing with an interception and a fumble recovery.
Virginia Tech was consistently in the Marshall backfield and totaled 5.0 sacks for a loss of 25 yards. J.R. Collins had 2.5 sacks and also combined for 2.5 tackles for loss for the Hokies. Antone Exum had the lone VT interception and finished with three tackles.
Virginia Tech struck first in the opening quarter after starting the drive at midfield. A 16 yard catch from Danny Coale, combined with a 28 yard run from Wilson set up the first points of the game as Thomas rumbled into the end zone from five yards out to go up 7-0.
The Hokies extended their lead late in the first quarter after a 58 yard drive was topped off with Wilson's three yard touchdown run, which pushed the score to 13-0. During the PAT, Marshall's Vinny Curry blocked the attempt and the ball was picked up by Lovett, who returned the ball all the way into the opposite end zone. After a review from upstairs the two points were taken off the board because Lovett's knee grazed the ground at the 15 yard line.
Marshall responded on the next drive and earned its first points of the game after a 46 yard field goal attempt sailed through the uprights, trimming Virginia Tech's lead to 13-3.
At the beginning of the second quarter, the Hokies went on the board again following two pass connections from Thomas to Coale for 29 yards, and to the VT tight end, Eric Martin, for a 15 yard completion. Oglesby was able to bust in for a four yard touchdown after Martin's grab and VT improved their lead to 20-3.
Late in the second quarter, VT recorded their final points of the half with a 41 yard field goal from Cody Journell with 1:10 left in the half, making the score 23-3.
With 1:03 left on the clock in the second quarter, Marshall took over possession at its own 29 yard line. Cato led the Thundering Herd on a 71 yard drive in three plays to score Marshall's first touchdown of the game. He went 3-for-3 on the drive and used a 29 yard touchdown pass to Aaron Dobson to make the score 23-10. The score marks Dobson's fourth touchdown reception and Cato's fifth touchdown throw of the season.
Virginia Tech used its stonewall defense to stop Marshall's offensive attack in the second half and held the Herd scoreless to end the game.
VT did score one final time in the fourth quarter off a five yard touchdown run from Oglesby to make the final score 30-10.
"We knew going in what we were going to get," commented Holliday after the game. "Our kids played physical, but we didn't get them stopped. I'm proud of the way we played, but I'm not proud we lost the game. That's unacceptable here at Marshall and the players understand that. I thought effort was great and we played extremely hard. We need to change the field position in the first half, but we never got it done. You give those guys a short field then you will have problems and we did."
Marshall will play in its final non-conference game of the season next Saturday, October 1, at Louisville. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on WOWK.