HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Making its first visit to Huntington, W.Va., since 1940, Virginia Tech got five sacks from its defense and three different offensive players scored on short touchdown runs, lifting the Hokies past Marshall 30-10 in a non-conference game Saturday afternoon at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, W.Va.
With the win, Tech moved to 4-0 on the season and wrapped up its non-conference slate. Marshall fell to 1-3 on the season.
Tech’s defense continued its stellar play thus far this season, thwarting Marshall’s attack. The Hokies held the Thundering Herd to just six yards rushing and 251 total yards. They also sacked Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato five times and intercepted him once.
Offensively, Tech amassed 444 yards and overcame some snafus in the kicking game with four rushing touchdowns.
“I thought we did some very good things, and then we don’t consistently do some things,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “That’s where we are as a football team. There were some great plays, and then there were some turnovers and some penalties. Those are things that don’t allow us to consistently be good. We’re certainly at a part of our schedule where we’ve got to be consistently good.
“But I’m proud of our effort and proud of how tough we were. We played hard, but we didn’t always play well, and give Marshall credit for some of that, too.”
Beamer and company didn’t feel comfortable until the Hokies went on an 86-yard march that spanned the third and fourth quarters. The big play came on a 44-yard run by backup tailback Josh Oglesby, who got Tech to the Marshall 11. Two plays later, Oglesby scored on a 5-yard run, and Cody Journell’s extra point gave Tech a 30-10 lead with 13:52 left in the game.
The score was the second of the day for Oglesby, who also got in the end zone on a 4-yard scamper early in the second quarter. He finished with 75 yards on 12 carries, and he and David Wilson combined for 207 yards of Tech’s 215 yards rushing in the game. Wilson had 132 yards on 26 carries.
“That drive was big,” Oglesby said. “We had other drives where we were set up to score. On one, we had a penalty that backed us up, and then we missed the field goal. I told myself before that drive that this drive was going to go perfect, and we were going to take it down and score, and that’s what we did.”
The game appeared to be on its way toward a Tech blowout when the Hokies scored on three straight first-half possessions. Tech struck first in the game, taking advantage of a horrible Marshall punt that gave the Hokies great field position at midfield. That ultimately led to a 5-yard touchdown run by quarterback Logan Thomas, and with Journell’s extra point, Tech took a 7-0 lead with seven minutes left in the first quarter.
The Hokies added to their lead on their next possession. Tech marched 56 yards in six plays, with the big play coming on third-and-4 from the Marshall 30. Wilson went 20 yards for the first down, and then he finished things off two plays later when he scored from 3 yards out. Journell’s extra point was blocked, but the Hokies led 13-0 with 2:21 left in the first quarter.
Marshall answered on its next possession with a 45-yard field goal by Tyler Warner that cut the Tech lead to 13-3 with 14:48 left in the first half. But the Hokies went on a 71-yard march that ended with Oglesby’s first touchdown run. Journell’s extra point gave the Hokies a 20-3 lead with 10:31 remaining in the half.
Journell added a 41-yard field goal with 1:10 left that gave the Hokies a 20-point bulge. But the Thundering Herd quickly responded by going 71 yards in just three plays and scoring on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Cato to Aaron Dobson with 32 seconds left in the half. That cut the lead to 23-10.
The Thundering Herd, though, got nothing in the second half, as Tech’s defense shut them out. Defensive ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins combined for four sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss, as Marshall had just seven yards rushing in the second half.
“The key is stopping the run,” Gayle said. “At the end of the day, if you force them into a position where the quarterback has to win the game, nine out of 10 times, that means they’re behind.
“I was put in a position to make plays today. I was just spilling down and making tackles, and I got after the quarterback.
Thomas completed 22 of 33 for 229 yards, with an interception, for the Hokies’ offense. Danny Coale caught seven passes for 107 yards, while D.J. Coles caught a career-high eight passes for 66 yards.
Cato led the Thundering Herd with 245 yards passing. He completed 17 of 33, with a touchdown and an interception.
The only negative of the game from the Hokies came in the kicking game. Journell had an extra point blocked and missed a field goal, and punter Scott Demler ended up being replaced by Coale after a couple of poor punts.
“It was disappointing how we kicked the ball today,” Beamer said. “Our kickoffs weren’t good. Cody made one field goal, but missed one, and we had one blocked. We’ve got to continue to work on it.”
The Hokies open ACC play next weekend with a home game against Clemson. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.
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