By: Joey Raymond
All Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics
Huntington, WV–The Hokies and Thundering Herd are set to face each other for the first time since 2018. For a couple of Hokies, it’s a massive homecoming. Even though he’s questionable and a game-time decision, Grant Wells returns to Marshall for the first time since he left in December 2021. Coach J.C. Price, and defensive end C.J. McCray also return to Marshall after leaving in 2020. The biggest question is obviously who is going to play quarterback today after Kyron Drones left a big impact on this offense after starting against Rutgers. Brent Pry said that’ll be a game-time decision. Marshall’s stadium is striped in the school colors and you get the sense that this is a massive game for Marshall’s fan base. It’s also what feels like a must-win for the Hokies, as the schedule only gets harder from here. If the Hokies’ goal is to make a bowl game this year, it feels like they need to win this game.
First Quarter Recap:
After Marshall won the toss and chose to defer to the second half, he kicked it off to Virginia Tech to get this game started in Huntington. Virginia Tech will start at the 25-yard line, and Kyron Drones will come out to be the starting quarterback. The Hokies take the ball and immediately start driving, in large part thanks to Bayshul Tuten and Kyron Drones. The Hokies go 6 plays, 72 yards, and find their way into the end zone, getting the early 7-0 lead. This is the first time the Hokies have scored in the first quarter all season. Marshall takes a turn after a touchback from the Hokies. Marshall makes the first mistake of the day on their drive, throwing an interception, and giving the Hokies the ball back. The Hokies work their way down to the 31-yard line, go for it on fourth down, and then throw an incomplete pass, turning it over on downs. Marshall would drive down to attempt a 49-yard field goal but would miss it, leaving the score at 7-0. Virginia Tech would go three and out on their next drive. Marshall would get the ball moving on their next drive, getting to the 19-yard line. The big play in that drive came off of a 35-yard pass to Ethan Payne, right as the quarter ended.
Second Quarter Recap:
Marshall gets to start the quarter on the 19-yard line, continuing the drive from last quarter. The Thundering Herd only needed two plays before scoring. Marshall gets in the end zone thanks to a touchdown pass to DeMarcus Harris, tying the game at 7-7. Virginia Tech almost turns it over on the kick-off but recovers the ball. The Hokies get back and business quickly, grabbing momentum off an amazing catch from Stephen Gosnell and a long run from Tuten, getting to the 4-yard line after the run, before Marshall calls a time out, out of frustration. That’s all they’ll make it to though, being forced to kick a field goal, bringing the score to 10-7. Marshall would score quickly on their next drive, thanks to a massive 56-yard touchdown run from Rasheen Ali. This brings the score to 17-10, with Marshall taking their first lead of the game. Virginia Tech would then fumble the ball on their next drive, as Kyron Drones loses the ball on a scramble. Marshall would put some hustle in their next drive, quickly working their way down to the 6-yard line before the Hokies stopped them. A field goal would cap off their 11-play, 41-yard drive, bringing the score to 17-10. The next three drives would result in three and outs. Two for the Hokies and once for the Thundering Herd. The score would stay at 17-10, as the clock hits all zeros and the half ends.
Third Quarter Recap:
The Thundering Herd are back to receive the kickoff after deferring to the second half. They’ll start the quarter at the 30-yard line. They’ll start slow though, as Marshall goes three and out to start the half. Virginia Tech would also start slow, gaining a first down but ultimately having to punt it away. Marshall starts the drive on the one-yard line. They get bailed out on third down on a questionable pass interference call, which then gets followed by a 61-yard run from Ali. Marshall would then get into the endzone on a short run from Ali, bringing the score to 24-10. Marshall’s defense would pour it on, getting a tip and a sack, forcing the Hokies to punt. Marshall would then throw an interception on the next drive, however, it still feels like momentum is on the Thundering Herds’ side. The Hokies continue to struggle on offense, getting two third and longs, and even though they convert the first, can’t convert the second. The Hokies punt it away once again, making that eight straight drives without a score. Marshall would go three and out on their next drive, giving the Hokies the ball back with 49 seconds left in the third. The Hokies would run the clock out, bringing us to the fourth quarter.
Fourth Quarter Recap:
The Hokies continue their drive and continue to struggle as Kyron Drones gets sacked on the second play of the quarter. The Hokies would go nowhere on third down, forcing another punt, and giving it back to Marshall. Marshall would go three and out and give it back to Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech starts driving, thanks to plays from Drones and Gosnell. The Hokies work down to the 17-yard line before Kyron runs the ball into the endzone for a Virginia Tech touchdown. That brings the score to 24-17, pulling the Hokies back within one score. Marshall would get to third down and then get another questionable penalty call to go their way, giving Marshall another first down. Marshall would have to punt it away again a couple plays later. The Hokies try to tie this thing up late here. The Hokies do have to go for it on fourth down on this drive but get bailed out by Tuten. The Hokies would continue driving after that, but continue to shoot themselves in the foot, getting a couple pre snap penalties. The Hokies get to fourth down again with 47 seconds left and are forced to go for it. Marshall gets the incomplete pass and takes over on downs, thus essentially sealing it for Marshall. Marshall would then just run out the clock, but take a knee and win the game.
Post-Game Thoughts and What’s Next?
Marshall pulls out the win, snagging their first win against Virginia Tech since 1940. Virginia Tech snags another loss, bringing their record to 1-3. This makes Virginia Tech’s goal of making a bowl game a really big mountain to climb. Marshall’s defense wreaked havoc on the Hokies offense in this game. Marshall came out with some really big defensive plays, and some amazing runs on offense. If I’m the Hokies I’m concerned about some of the choices made on the offensive side of the ball. At one point in this game, they went 9 drives without scoring anything, and they left points on the table early. The Hokies had an opportunity to score a field goal but decided to go for it early on the fourth instead of kicking it, which would have made this game closer, later, and maybe helped the Hokies with some momentum. The final score was only one touchdown apart but overall it felt much further. Marshall held the momentum for a huge portion of this game.
The Hokies will head home after this tough one and play a really hard-nosed tough defensive team in Pittsburgh. They’ll drop to 1-3 on the season which is not where the Hokies wanted to be at this point. Pitt is also struggling coming into this game, coming off a really tough game at home with North Carolina. Marshall moves another win into the win column, staying undefeated at 3-0 on the season. They’ll get the luxury of staying home in Huntington as Old Dominion comes to town, a team the Hokies defeated earlier this season.