HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Rasheen Ali ran for 174 yards and two touchdowns to lift Marshall to a 24-17 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Ali ran for touchdowns of 56 and 1 yards to keep the Thundering Herd (3-0) unbeaten.
Virginia Tech (1-3) was without injured quarterback Grant Wells, a West Virginia native who played at Marshall for three seasons before transferring to the Hokies prior to the 2022 season.
Kyron Drones started in Wells’ place. The Baylor transfer ran for two touchdowns and drove the Hokies past midfield in the final minute of the game. But Virginia Tech was called for a false start on fourth-and-1 at the Marshall 31 with 47 seconds left, and Marshall’s Josh Moten broke up Drones’ pass on the next play to end the threat.
“Discipline,” Marshall coach Charles Huff said. “We told them it was going to come down to discipline and the more disciplined team was going to win. When we say ‘discipline,’ everybody thinks of penalties, but it’s everything. It’s penalties, it’s turnovers, it’s missed opportunities, missed tackles, missed fits.”
Marshall was backed up against its goal line in the third quarter when a pass interference call against Virginia Tech on third down kept the drive alive. Ali then burst down the sideline for 61 yards to set up his short TD run.
“I think we’ve got some issues controlling the run game,” Virginia Tech coach Brent Bry said. “That’s our goal right now, to get to a better place where we can manage our run defense, but the explosive runs are what’s killing us. We’ve got to make people drive the field.
“You may have an eight, a 10, a 12 or even a 15-yard explosive run, but we can’t let them go the distance. There’s just too much of that. It makes it too easy on teams.”
Drones’ touchdown run of 31 yards in the first quarter came after Marshall’s Cam Fancher threw an interception, and Drones ran in from 16 yards out with 7:41 to play in the fourth quarter to pull the Hokies within 24-17.
Fancher completed 16 of 27 passes for 166 yards, including a 12-yard scoring pass to DeMarcus Harris in the second quarter.
Marshall’s win “means we’re improving,” Huff said. “We’re not there and we’re not perfect. We’re improving. Cam Fancher is improving. Ali is improving. Our O-line is improving. Our defense is improving.”
Virginia Tech was limited to 344 total yards. After the Hokies kicked a field goal early in the second quarter, they either turned the ball over or punted on seven consecutive possessions stretching into the fourth quarter,
Drones completed 19 of 35 passes for 160 yards and ran for 75 yards. Bhayshul Tuten led the Hokies with 88 rushing yards on nine carries.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies are off to their worst start since 2010, when they opened the season 0-2 before rallying to finish 11-3 that season.
Marshall: It marked the Thundering Herd’s first win against Virginia Tech in more than 80 years and it was the program’s first win against a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference since defeating Maryland 31-20 in the 2013 Military Bowl.
Virginia Tech hosts Pittsburgh next Saturday.
Marshall hosts Old Dominion next Saturday.
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