"For a half, I thought we played extremely well," confided Marshall coach Mark Snyder. "We just need to put a total game together; offense, defense and special teams."
And if you had only watched the first half of the game, you would have been impressed with the Marshall effort in Blacksburg. Consider these numbers; Marshall out-rushed the Hokies by a 131-101 yard advantage: MU had converted 5-of-9 third downs: and most important, Marshall held Virginia Tech to just 14 points to MU's 7.
With effective blocking in force, MU back Ahmad Bradshaw answered Tech's 7-0 lead with a 13-yard touchdown run with 13:36 left in the first half to even the score. The Hokies added another score when Branden Ore ran in from 14 yards out with 5:09 left in the half for the 14-7 Tech lead.
Ahmad Bradshaw scored Marshall's first TD in the first quarter, beating Virginia Tech defender D.J. Parker to the goal line.
Virginia Tech (6-0, 3-0 ACC) QB Marcus Vick had rushed for just 12 yards in the first half, and was sacked by MU's Albert McClellan.
"He is quick," McClellan said of Tech QB Marcus Vick. "Real quick."
Albert McClellan sacked VT quarterback Marcus Vick in the first half of the Hokies' 41-14 win over Marshall on Saturday.
Click the remote at this point, and all is well.
"We were really pumped up coming into the third quarter," said MU's Ahmad Bradshaw. "We fought hard, and were able to win this game at one point."
Once the third quarter arrived, though, matters played out in a much different fashion.
"We kind of had a meltdown," said Snyder.
When you are ranked #3 in all the land, you must make things happen in a hurry. Virginia Tech did just that, starting with Brandon Pace's 19-yard field goal with 11:51 left in the third quarter that put the Hokies up by a 17-7 margin. On the ensuing Marshall offensive possession, quarterback Bernie Morris was sacked and fumbled the ball at the 15 yard line. Tech's Vince Hall scooped up the loose ball and returned it for the easy touchdown to put VT up 24-7.
Marshall QB Bernie Morris looked for room at Virginia Tech defender Vince Hall closed in.
"That was a very pivotal series for us," Marshall coach Mark Snyder added. "We compounded our mistakes by turning the ball over and giving them an easy touchdown."
"That changed the momentum of the game."
Three minutes later, VT quarterback Marcus Vick got the offense rolling and capped it with a 48-yard scoring pass to David Clowney with 8:22 left. Just like that —bang— and VT had a 31-7 lead.
"Those guys feed off turnovers," said MU quarterback Bernie Morris of the pivotal third quarter. "And that's what happened once we turned the ball over."
Tech added 10 more points with another Pace field goal (23 yards) and a George Bell two-yard score. On the final drive of the game, Marshall back Chubb Small hauled in a 17-yard pass from QB Bernie Morris with just :19 left to seal the final 41-14 margin.
Marshall running back Chubb Small looked for room as Virginia Tech's Cary Wade (30) closed in.
Marshall back Chubb Small had maybe the best day of any player on the field. The junior college transfer emerged as a solid second running back for Marshall with 14 carries good for 57 yards and one TD. Combined with Ahmad Bradshaw's 22 rushes for 99 yards and one TD, and the duo combined for all but 8 of MU's 164 yards on the ground.
"Our running game did get better today," MU coach Snyder added. "Chubb Small stepped up today and got some tough rushing yards against a very physical defense. He was getting yards after contact, which was very, very pleasing."
Bernie Morris finished the day with 14-of-28 completions for 117 yards, 1 TD, and three sacks by the VT defense. Marshall put up 281 yards of offense, in stark comparison to VT's 409 yards (176 passing, 233 rushing).
In the end, Marshall coach Mark Snyder found solace in the first half performance that showed glimpses of what his youthful Marshall team is capable of on any given Saturday.
"We have a bunch of young guys I think are going to be pretty good," Snyder summed up. "Our rush got better today, our special teams were better today, [but] our rush defense was poor."
Marshall (2-3 overall, 1-1 CUSA) now prepares for their own homecoming next Saturday when the UAB Blazers come to Huntington. Kickoff is set for 5pm at Edwards Stadium.