Hokies survive Marshall in 3OT, 29-21

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Kyshoen Jarrett made this amazing end zone interception to snuff out a second-half Marshall drive and help send the game to overtime.

Virginia Tech overcame a spotty offensive performance and the absence of starting kicker Cody Journell, not to mention Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, downing the Herd 29-21 in triple overtime in pouring rain.

Regulation ended with the score 21-21, and neither team scored in the first two overtimes. In the third overtime, Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas bulled up the middle for a 2-yard TD run on first down, then ran up the middle for the two-point conversion to put the Hokies up 29-21.

In Marshall’s half of the overtime, on 4th and 9 from the Tech 14-yard line, Cato lofted a perfect pass to Davonte Allen in the back corner of the end zone, but Allen dropped it, and victory belonged to the Hokies.

Before that, though, there was plenty of drama. The best way to capture this game is to go over it in order.

First Half

On Marshalll’s opening possession, facing 4th down from their 34 yard line, they punted, and Kyle Fuller blocked it. The ball bounced free, and Derek DiNardo scooped it up cleanly and scored from the 11-yard line. 7-0, Hokies.

Marshall responded a couple of possessions later with an eight-play, 51 yard drive that ended in a 12-yard TD pass from Cato to Devon Smith. 7-7.

The Hokies came back with a 13-play, 89 yard drive, finished off by Logan Thomas with a 2-yard TD run. 14-7, Hokies.

Marshall scored touchdowns on their next two possessions to go up 21-14. The first touchdown drive included two facemask penalties on the Hokies, and Cato ran in from the 4 to complete it. The second TD drive ended with a 13-yard TD pass to Gator Hoskins with 9:06 to go in the second quarter.

Little did Marshall — or anyone else in attendance — know the Herd would not score again.

Logan Thomas threw an interception at the Hokie 40-yard line on Tech’s next possession, but the defense rose up and forced a three and out and a punt.

“We made a big stop there, and that kind of changed the momentum of the game,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said afterwards.

Tech then embarked on their longest drive of the day, a 16-play, 73-yard possession that ended in a 36-yard missed field goal by Ethan Keyserling, who was playing because Cody Journell didn’t dress out for the game. Frank Beamer said after the game that Journell was benched for “a violation of team rules” and didn’t provide any further details.

The two teams went into half time with Marshall up 21-14. At that point, Cato was 11-17 for 98 yards and two touchdowns, and he also had 53 yards on 7 rushes. Cato’s ability to break the pocket and improvise was causing big trouble for the Hokies.

Logan Thomas, meanwhile, had started out 6-9 for 80 yards, but he went stone cold for the rest of the half, going 0-8 with two interceptions.

Second Half

The first critical moment in the second half came when the Hokies drove to Marshall’s 11 yard line and faced a 4th and 1. Logan Thomas ran it up the middle but was stopped for no gain.

Marshall responded with a drive that threatened to throw the game out of balance, going from their own 11 yard line all the way to the Hokie 24. Tech held there, though, and Marshall’s Justin Haig missed a 41-yard field goal, leaving Tech just one score behind.

After a Hokie three and out, Marshall kept the pressure on, driving from their own 12 yard line and going all the way to the Hokie 30 yard line. By now, the game was in the fourth quarter, and on 3rd and 7, Cato threw his worst pass of the game. Pressured by J.R. Collins, who had a monster game (9 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks), Cato threw the ball out to the sideline, where Kendall Fuller was waiting on it and picked it off. That ended a 15-play drive by Marshall that came up empty.

The two teams traded three-and-outs.

Virginia Tech, still down 21-14, took possession on their own 17-yard line, with 9:25 to go, and went on another long drive. This one featured a 43-yard run by Trey Edmunds (22 carries, 110 yards) and two 4th down conversions, including the tying touchdown.

From the Marshall 12 yard line, facing 4th and 9, Logan Thomas found Joshua Stanford streaking across the middle for an 11-yard pickup to the Marshall 1 yard line.

The next three plays were a disaster for the Hokies, and they faced 4th and goal from the 2 yard line. Logan Thomas threw a flag route to Willie Byrn, who was wide open for a moment, but Marshall defensive back Darryl Roberts, who had sniffed out the play, came from the defensive backfield and cut in front of the ball with a clean shot to pick it off. The ball bounced off Roberts’ hands and into the waiting arms of Byrn, who caught it right before going out of bounds to knot the score at 21.

“I thought he was going to be wide open,” Frank Beamer said after the game, “but we got unlucky a few times with tipped balls and bounces, so I think it evens out a little bit.”

Marshall took over with 3:04 left, and they weren’t done. They threatened to break Tech’s heart when Cato hit Devon Smith for a 47-yard pass down the sideline that put the ball at the Tech 34 yard line. Three plays later, on 3rd and 15 from the 39, Smith again got open down the sideline, and Cato lofted a pass to him in the end zone. Tech free safety Kyshoen Jarrett, playing deep centerfield, arrived at the ball at the same time as Smith, the two players collided … and Jarrett came out with the interception, with 1:57 to go.

The Hokies couldn’t mount a threat with their next possession, they got off a clean punt, and regulation ended in a 21-21 tie.


The Hokies opened with the ball, and their possession was a disaster. A sack of Logan Thomas led to a 3rd and 18 from the Marshall 33, where Thomas delivered a ball to Demitri Knowles at the first down marker. The pass was a little high, and Knowles dropped it. Keyserling’s 50-yard field goal attempt was nowhere near the mark, and Marshall took over.

The Herd made their biggest tactical error of the afternoon at that point, running the ball up the middle three times in a row with the tailback. That gained a total of three yards, and on 4th and 7 from the 22, Haig’s field goal attempt was blocked, the second blocked kick of the game for the Hokies. That’s the first time since the 2010 Boise State game that the Hokies have blocked two kicks in one game.

Marshall had the ball next to start the second overtime, and it was the Derrick Hopkins show. Hopkins sacked Cato on 2nd down, and on 3rd down, J.R. Collins sacked and stripped Cato. The ball fell to the turf, where Hopkins scooped it up at the Hokie 41 yard line and ran it 40 yards before being caught at the 19 yard line. For a moment, it looked like Hopkins might score and win the game, but he was run down by Marshall tailback Essray Taliaferro.

“I was hoping Derrick could rumble,” Bud Foster said after the game, “but he kind of ran out of gas at the end. I think anyone else but him would have scored,” Foster quipped.

The ball was spotted at the 25 for Tech’s possession. The Hokies advanced to Marshall’s 13-yard line, but their possession ended in a 32-yard field goal attempt by Keyserling, with the rain intensifying. Keyserling missed it, and the game went to the third overtime.

The Hokies drove the ball down to the Marshall six yard line, where Tech faced 3rd and 3. Thomas threw incomplete to the back corner of the end zone to Byrn, but Marshall’s Cory Tindal interfered with Byrn. The ball was spotted at the two yard line, and Logan Thomas punched it in from there. Thomas then rolled up the middle nearly untouched on the mandatory two-point conversion attempt, putting the Hokies up 29-21.

Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said, “We made a decision in the overtime that Logan’s our most experienced player, and he’s been there before, so we wanted the ball in his hands. When you have a senior quarterback, you’ve got to put the ball in his hands at the end of the game.”

Marshall picked up a first down at the Tech 15-yard line, and then ran it to the 14-yard line on the next play. From there, Cato threw three straight incompletions, including the game-ending drop by Davonte Allen, and the Hokies escaped with a win.

It was the first triple overtime game in Tech history, and Virginia Tech’s fourth overtime win in a row. (Edit: first triple overtime win, not game; thanks to marcusvick for the correction.)

With the win, Tech moves to 3-1 on the season, and Marshall falls to 2-2. Virginia Tech’s next eight games are all ACC contests, including a game just five days from now at Georgia Tech (Thursday, 7:30 PM, ESPN).

“We’ve got a short week,” Loeffler said. “We’ve got to find a way to get better these next three days.”

“I’ve got a lot of respect for what they [Georgia Tech] do,” Foster added, “and it’s going to be a dogfight.”

Game Notes

  • J.R. Collins was a beast, leading the Hokies with 9 tackles. He had 1.5 TFL (1.5 sacks), a forced fumble, and 3 QB hurries (tops on the team). After totaling 6 TFL and 1.5 sacks last season in 13 games, Collins has 5 TFL and 4.5 sacks this season, in four games.
  • The defensive tackles were similarly beastly. Starters Luther Maddy and Derrick Hopkins each had 2.5 TFL, Hopkins had 1.5 sacks, and Maddy had 1 sack. Combined with backup Nigel Williams (1 TFL), the DTs accounted for 6 of Tech’s 8 TFLs and 2.5 of Tech’s 4 sacks.
  • Each team ran 87 plays, and the much-maligned Hokie offense outgained Marshall 382-361.
  • After registering just 4 rushing first downs at ECU, the Hokies offense had 12 against Marshall, out of 23 total first downs (9 by pass, 2 by penalty).
  • Cato, after going 11-17 for 98 yard and 2 TDs in the first half, was just 8-24 with 2 interceptions and 130 yards after half time.
  • Joshua Stanford led the Hokies with 4 receptions for 43 yards. Chris Mangus had more yardage, catching 3 balls out of the backfield for 47 yards. Tight end Kalvin Cline had 2 receptions for 20 yards.
  • The Hokies got their first punt block for a touchdown since Kyle Fuller did it against Appalachian State in the opening game of 2011.
  • The classic characteristic of Beamerball — blocked kicks — was critical in this game. Blocked kicks accounted for a ten-point swing in the OT victory.

Box Score: hokiesports.com

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44 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. ” That’s the first time since the 2010 Boise State game that the Hokies have blocked two kicks in one game.”

    There were two in that game? I remember partially blocking a punt, but what was the other second block?

  2. Keyserling’s 50-yard FG attempt in the first OT: Will says that it was just nowhere near the mark. However, to me, from watching it at the stadium, it looked like someone just barely got a tip on it, causing it to fall way short. Anyone else agree, or am I just mistaken and it was all Keyserling’s doing?

  3. Another scary one. as former Hokiesports DB, I just get tired of watching fundamentals tossed out as suggestions. if Jarrett goes UP and catches the pick
    With his HANDS (the $50 gloves purpose), he doesn’t get hurt. DBs do drills every day to catch the ball at its highest point. COACH EM UP OR MAKE THEM SIT

    1. With all due respect, Jarrett’s #1 priority is making sure the Marshall receiver does not catch the ball. The INT is secondary, a product of getting there a split second sooner than necessary to break up the pass.

  4. OK we all agree it was not a pretty game. One question, did the team get out of Lane healthy? Hopefully no strains and pains and perhaps just a good soaking in the tub. It is a short week and I just hope everyone is healthy. Any news?

    GO HOKIES BEAT THE jackets!!!!

    1. Trey Edmunds, Kyshoen Jarrett, and David Wang all got dinged up — I’m not sure how serious any of the injuries were. HOwever, Edmunds didn’t play late in the game.

  5. Lets see how thursday night goes. I see potential in the offense but a lack of execution. The players need to keep improving and the oline needs to get healthy. Toughness is an excellent substitute for lack of talent. I see talent and potential and youth. If the kicking game improves, everygame becomes winnable. Bring your hard hat and lunchpail to work and lets go win a championship. Seriously! Go Hokies.

    1. Well done, Marcus. Can’t believe I forgot that one. Maybe what I heard is that it was VT’s first 3OT victory ever. (ouch)

  6. Play calling and design are better EXCEPT once again we don’t sneak it with LT when we SHOULD on the first 4th and a foot, then we almost lost the game because we handed off 5 yds deep on 1st and goal INSIDE the 1

    1. I didn’t like that call either. I would have simply let my 6’6′ 250 lb. QB sneak the ball to get me 1/2 a yard.

      But I agree with you that play design seems to be better. Loeffler had some very nice plays drawn up today that were botched by poor execution.

      1. Might have depended some on the Center. I’m not sure if Wang or Farris was the C on that play, but if it was Wang, and he had been previously dinged, and stuffed on a similar play last week, maybe they didn’t trust the sneak.

    2. Exactly bad play calling in those situations, plus the plays look like they are being played in slow motion. LT also has a problem of getting his feet untangled.
      See the best hole and execute, i.e. “run to daylight.”

  7. Thank goodness our defense put in another stout day at the office. TSL’s pre-game analysis and props to Marshall and their key offensive players were spot-on. But, like usual, The Master (aka Bud Foster) made the necessary halftime adjustments and we stifled them in the 2nd half and in OT. Special teams were great, for once – not counting our FG attempts. The offense was largely pathetic. LT’s throws for most of the game were high and behind receivers. He did play with guts, I’ll give him that. It was another very poorly officiated game. Both teams suffered at the hands of the refs but it looked to me like VT got the better of the officiating (I watched on TV this time). I don’t believe I’ve seen any new wrinkles whatsoever from Scot Loefler. Am I missing something? It’s the same offense and same situational play-calling. We better REALLY kick it up a notch this Thursday in Atlanta! Looks like we had several players nicked up and I sure hope they’re OK and can go against GT.

    1. Bud actually said after the game that the D didn’t make any adjustments. Just started playing better (which is always the best “adjustment”)

      1. Yeah, the D didn’t play that great in the first half. On a couple of those QB runs all of the linebackers and D-linemen were either behind him or to the sides. No one played containment and Cato had open field in front of him. I think once they got back to fundamentals they were fine.

  8. For many years, VT fans were happy to win games this way. I am perfectly fine with it. All wins are equal when they hit the win column.

    Our team has tremendous heart. They deserve our respect and support for that.

    1. Agreed, a Butt Ugly win, but a win!! I go back to the Charlie Coffey days so I will take this win with hopes of constant improvement in the offense and more wins down the road no matter how it is accomplished.

  9. No mention of the atrocious officiating? A Marhsall player threw a punch in the first half and both teams got off-setting penalties. A blatant hold was missed on Cato’s TD rush and there was a blatant hold or pass interference missed against VT on the 3rd down of the final possession of the third overtime. There was also countless other blown calls but those were the most egregious.

    The offense is struggling to do anything consistently at this point. The WR’s were dropping balls, albeit it in very wet conditions, Logan was inconsistent again with his reads, footwork and accuracy and the running game really struggled. The OL also seemed to take a step back today as they were whipped numerous times based on what I saw live. The offense really needs to find an identity and have some sort of bread and butter they can go to when things bog down.

    Oh well, better to have two ugly wins over the past two weeks than two ugly losses. The good news is that this defense will keep the team in every game.

    1. A game recap isn’t really the place to get into discussing the quality of officiating … which was bad for the second week in a row.

    2. I’m not sure who to blame for the WR drops today. At least one was a ball that hit Byrne in the hands but was thrown with such force that he really didnt have a chance to bring it in (bounced off hands into helmet, as I recall). Some of the drops definitely looked catchable. Maybe Will or Chris could do a little analysis of the “drops” and why they happened. As with so many things, the answer is not always obvious. I bet wet hands was a factor as well.

      The inside running game was again looking like young RBs vs the immovable object. But there were more outside runs called today and a couple of successful off-tackle runs. Mangus needs to get the ball in the open field more. I like him a lot as a receiver out of the backfield.

  10. I can understand that some fans are not impressed with the offense, but Loeffler’s was tasked overhauling an O that has VERY few quality parts. If Logan had been coached in a similar style O for the last 4 years he would be further along. Similarly the O-line has lack luster parts and was under coached for many years. Additionally, we have not landed the top skill players in our state or region for years. *** I realize we have gotten a lot of good players but we have missed the Percy Harvins of the state***. Scott’s offense is not smoke and mirrors. It requires play-makers. We do not have very many of those. He has a plan that is easy to see as you watch the game. He relays on the inside zone to keep the defense from rushing the edges. That opens the play-action pass. It also allows Tech to use the outside run. I will agree that he uses the inside run FAR too much, given the lack of effectiveness. I think that the long Td against Bama has made him believe the inside zone has more potential than is possible with our personnel. I also do not like how Loeffler’s has coached the mesh-point to happen so close to the line of scrimmage on the zone read. It appears that when Logan reads the inside zone he take a second too long to decide if he is going to hand off, or keep it. Then given the short distance to the line, there is little time for Edmunds to react. However, I in no way can agree with some posters that are saying Stinespring was better than Loeffler’s. Stiney’s grasp of the passing game was far below where it needed to be at this level of football, and his play calling strategy was so erratic that it only netted results when people succeeded despite of the call.

    The new offensive coaching staff is making progress. Logan is clearly better than last year. The receivers are better today than a month ago. The O-line is NOT where we want, but may be as good as the personnel can get. We do not have a 4-star RB. Edmunds is legit, but his lack of patience combined with spotty run-blocking makes him a hit or miss runner. I think with time, and a better O-line he can produce more electric plays.

    What we have to realize is that our recruiting on offense over the last few years left the team devoid of NFL quality playmakers. This was due in part to the lack of an offensive identity. Loeffler is doing a good job of adjusting, in game, to what the defense gives him, and trying to call plays that will give our players the best chance to be productive. This is a complete 180 from last year where we were going to run up the middle and got 3-&-out several times every game regardless of what the defense was giving. Be patient, this staff is good, and knows a lot more football than the rest of us. This year we need to look for improvements week to week. We do not have the players on our roster to just pick up a new O and start rolling teams. Next year and the year after we should be much, much better as we get players in this system, and get the guys here now to buy in.

    Finally keep in mind, with our lack luster recruiting over the lAst few years ECU and MARSHALL May have as good, if not better, players on their O than us. Bud, is amazing and will keep us in games we should lose, and Scott will continue to exploit ever chance we get. And remember we knew that with Stiney as the OC the offense was never going to get better, just more complicated. At least this year I see improvement.

    GO HOKIES!!!!!

      1. So was Ryan Williams, and when Williams is healthy, he’s clearly a better running back than JCC or Edmunds, hands down.

        Last year, in the Rivals 250, there were 215 4-star players, from #35 in the nation to #250 (and beyond, no doubt). 4-star players cover a WIDE range.

        1. Fist off agree about William completey. I thought he was the best RB VT has had in the Beamer ball era, though Jones and Suggs (and Evans) deserve mention. Williams had fantastic vision, power and good speed.
          Second didn’t Chris Coleman have an article a few years back about the blurring of 3 star and 4 star designations, i.e. there were a lot more kids rated 4 star than there used to be? That said, both Edmunds and Coleman have some talent and significant upside.

    1. Yes, I could not agree more with your observations.

      Also, VT offense had become a bad word with VA high schoolers, especially in 757. Loeffler has a small window to turn that feeling around.

  11. If I never see Cato and Shuler again it’ll be fine with me. Jeez, if only Logan had a go to guy like that #1.

    It seems the OL prepared for and played lights out vs. ‘Bama. Then they forgot about the rest of the season. Running game still not in gear. Logan getting a lot of pressure in the passing game. I say that and wonder how we got 382 yards of total offense. Logan is carrying this team again like last year.

    My heart is back to normal. During the second half I was certain we were going to lose the game. Another outstanding effort by Bud’s D as they did not give up another point after half time. We’re up to giving up 233 yards per game on D, but that should still be good for top 5 in the country if Marshall was at #5 last week giving up 250+ per game.

    1. I think it’s pretty obvious by now that Alabama’s defense is somewhat over-rated. Texas A&M absolutely lit ’em up last week. But the main difference is that Alabama’s 3-4 defense is more of a read & react defense whereas the defensive fronts for ECU and Marshall use more of an attacking style like VT’s.

      The best way to attack VT’s offense is to simply bull rush the interior OL to try and disrupt the running game and then take your chances against an inconsistent Logan Thomas and a very inexperienced group of WRs. That’s exactly what ECU and Marshall did and it almost worked.

      1. I’m not sure the O-line was going to get better yesterday. Wang looked to have shoulder problems most of the game and yet Arkema (sorry if spelled wrong) only played a few plays.

  12. Do we know what our offense is yet? I feel like after 4 game we still don’t have a clue on O yet. Alabama game was against Alabama, so We can’t judge based on that. Same for against WCU. ECU game run was stuffed and we passed well, and today was in a monsoon. I am utterly not impressed with play calling and the runs up the middle for 1-2 yds all the time out of the shotgun. I live in Charlotte and the Hokies remind me of our Panthers a lot. Take away Smith and Olson and Cam is Logan. They are very similar. I hope Loeffler figures this out soon. It feels like we don’t know what we are doing still.

    1. The O is a work in progress. We are very lucky to be 3-1. We are young and
      lack talent on that side of ball. It could be a couple of years before we have a strong
      offense. It is not the play calling at all. We need to show some kind of power running. Patience.

      1. On another website, someone in a position to know posted about three months ago that there are only about 3-4 offensive linemen on the current roster that Jeff Grimes would have recruited himself had he been here. He’s doing the best that he can with what he’s been given to work with. I think they’re playing better than they did last year, but it’s gonna take a while before that unit is where we all want to to be.

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