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Va. Tech escapes in triple overtime

The SportsXchange

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas saw his pass deflect off the outstretched arm of a Marshall defensive back and into the hands of receiver Willie Byrn and finally felt like his luck was changing.

That pass tied the game late in the fourth quarter, and the Hokies went on to win a thrilling 29-21 triple-overtime game against Marshall on Saturday at Lane Stadium.

"Considering our past history, it usually doesn't bounce our way. Usually the flags are against us. Usually the bounces are against us," said Thomas, who completed 18 of 34 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown. "But when you keep fighting, when you keep bringing the effort every single time, luck doesn't just appear for no reason."

Thomas scored the winning touchdown on a 2-yard run and tacked on a 2-point conversion for good measure, and then the Hokies' defense made one last defensive stand to keep the Thundering Herd from answering.

The Hokies (3-1), who recorded the 700th win in program history, won their sixth straight game over Marshall and extended their home winning streak against nonconference opponents to eight.

"We're on our way to being a good team. We're not there yet, but we're getting closer," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said.

Tech kicker Ethan Keyserling, who was playing in place of suspended starter Cody Journell, missed kicks of 50 and 32 yards in overtime, but the Hokies were able to get over the goal line in the third extra period. The score was set up by a fourth-down pass-interference call against Marshall's Corey Tindal.

Journell was suspended for one game for a violation of team rules, Beamer said.

The Thundering Herd's three overtime possessions ended with a missed 39-yard field goal by Justin Haig, a turnover and a failed fourth-down throw in the end zone.

"We all know there are no moral victories at Marshall. We came here to win that football game," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "Virginia Tech just made one more play at the end than we did."

Virginia Tech's defense had trouble at first adjusting to the blistering speed of Marshall's offense, allowing three touchdowns and 205 yards in the first half, but the Hokies held the Thundering Herd to no points and only 156 yards after halftime.

"I thought we came back and adjusted well and kind of got where we wanted there at the end," Beamer said.

The Thundering Herd led 21-14 at halftime thanks to a strong performance by quarterback Rakeem Cato. Cato, who led the country last year in completions and passing yards per game, completed 19-of-41 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns in the game. He also rushed for 49 yards and a score.

The Hokies' offense, meanwhile, continued its inconsistent play. It moved the ball at will at times but also made some costly mistakes.

Thomas completed 6-of-9 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown to start the game, but he threw eight straight incompletions with two interceptions to close out the half.

The Hokies took a 7-0 lead on a blocked punt return by Derek DiNardo. Kyle Fuller went untouched around the edge and blocked Tyler Williams' punt, and DiNardo scooped up the ball and ran 11 yards into the end zone.

"We came in wanting to change the game [on special teams], and I feel like we did that," Fuller said.

Marshall (2-2) answered with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Cato to wide receiver Devon Smith midway through the first quarter.

Virginia Tech took its second lead with an 89-yard drive that Thomas capped with a 1-yard touchdown run near the end of the first quarter.

The Thundering Herd scored two unanswered touchdowns to end the half -- on Cato's 4-yard run and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Cato to tight end Gator Hoskins.

The Hokies drove 73 yards at the end of the second quarter, but the drive ended with no points, as Keyserling missed a 36-yard field goal off the left upright.

NOTES: Virginia Tech's offense has failed to score more than two touchdowns in regulation in nine straight games. ... Byrn made his first career start. ... The Hokies have allowed two rushing touchdowns all season. ... The Hokies have blocked at least one punt in each of the last 21 seasons. ... Tech allowed more first-half yards (205) than it allowed in the entire game last week against East Carolina. ... Hokies defensive backs Kyshoen Jarrett and Kendall Fuller both recorded their first career interceptions in the second half. ... Marshall's Stefan Houston played on the punt return team, becoming the seventh freshman to play for the Thundering Herd. ... Cato has thrown a touchdown pass in 22 straight games. ... Cato's 22-yard first-quarter run was the longest run of his career.
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