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Sept. 24, 2011
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - David Wilson rushed for 132 yards, Josh Oglesby scored two touchdowns and No. 13 Virginia Tech beat Marshall 30-10 on Saturday in a final tuneup before its anticipated Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
The Hokies are off to their first 4-0 start since 2006. But the pressure's about to ratchet up with No. 21 Clemson due up next.
Virginia Tech displayed some big-play ability and kept the turnover-prone Thundering Herd (1-3) in their own end for much of the game. But Marshall continued to expose Tech's vulnerabilities in the worrisome way East Carolina and Arkansas State did earlier this season.
Wilson rushed for big yards and a touchdown as expected, but had a late fumble. Quarterback Logan Thomas completed 22 of 33 passes for 229 yards and rushed for a score, but missed some open receivers and threw a late interception that also kept Clemson from running away.
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Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato hit receiver Aaron Dobson with a long pass deep into Virginia Tech territory on the game's fourth play, but Jayron Hosley punched the ball out of Dobson's hands after chasing him down from behind and recovered the fumble.
It took even more help from Marshall for Virginia Tech to get on the board early. Herd punter Kase Whitehead shanked punts on consecutive drives, helping the Hokies to an early lead.
The first traveled 23 yards to the 50, setting up Thomas' 5-yard run to open the scoring midway through the first quarter. Whitehead's next kick traveled just 22 yards to the Hokies 42 and Wilson carried four consecutive times to end the drive, scoring from 3 yards out late in the quarter. Marshall blocked the extra point to keep it 13-0.
Oglesby added a 4-yard score with a nifty spin move early in the second quarter to make it 20-3, but even that drive was kept alive by a third-down pass interference call on Marshall. Even so, it looked as if the Hokies might take a comfortable lead into the locker room. But Cato cranked up the deep passing game again, moving the Herd 71 yards in 38 seconds, capping the drive with a 29-yard scoring pass to Dobson, who beat his man easily at the line in single coverage and jogged into the end zone to cut Tech's lead to 23-10.
Things weren't that much better for Virginia Tech in the second half. Oglesby added a 5-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter to seal the win. But the team executed a clumsy finish with an interception, a fumble and a missed field goal, and Cato, who passed for 245 yards, drove the Herd to the Hokies 13 late before turning the ball over on downs late in the fourth.
The Hokies defended their cupcake schedule this week after needing a late touchdown to beat East Carolina of Conference USA 17-10 - a win that nevertheless dropped them two spots in the Top 25 - and failing to run away from the Sun Belt Conference's Arkansas State in a 26-7 win last week. They'll find out just how far they've come against the Tigers, who come to town after dropping No. 11 Florida State 35-30 on Saturday.
The day started poignantly for Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, who laid a memorial stone at the Marshall University Memorial to the 75 players, coaches and members of the university community killed in a 1970 plane crash. Two of the coaches killed in the crash - coach Rick Tolley and assistant coach Frank Loria - were Virginia Tech graduates and Loria and Beamer played together in the mid-1960s.