Ore, Hokies cruise to victory over Herd
By Grant Taylor The Parthenon
Huntington, WV (U-WIRE) -- Virginia Tech scored 17 points during a three-minute span of the second quarter to seize momentum and defeat Marshall 41-14 at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va. Saturday.
Third quarters have been a thorn in Marshall's side for much of the season and Saturday proved to be no different as the Hokies took full advantage of Marshall's miscues, building an insurmountable lead.
After leading 14-7 at the half, the Hokies took to the turf running Marshall's defense into the ground.
"That was a very pivotal series for us," Snyder said. "We took the wind (at halftime) and we needed a defensive stop, but we couldn't stop the rush when we needed to."
It appeared the Hokies were going to waltz in for an easy score, but the defense tightened, aided by Chris Royal's pass breakup in the end zone on a third down pass from the Marshall two-yard line. The Hokies settled for a field goal and Marshall appeared to be back in control.
The momentum shifted to the Hokies for good just 40 seconds later when quarterback Bernie Morris was stripped. The football fell into the waiting arms of Vince Hall, who caught it in stride and raced into the end zone to give Virginia Tech a 24-7 lead four minutes into the second half.
"We wanted to see if we could play field position with them," Snyder said. "They ran down our throat, we come back and turn the ball over and that changed the momentum in the game."
After Marshall was forced to punt, VT quarterback Marcus Vick used his quick strike ability to light the scoreboard again.
Vick gave a pump fake, which froze Willie Smith, allowing David Clowney to get in behind the defense and catch a 48-yard touchdown pass. Clowney's catch capped a 78-yard drive that took only three plays.
The Hokies gained 200 yards in the third quarter while Marshall's offense got a dismal two yards. It was a contrast to a first half which saw Marshall and Virginia Tech virtually even with the teams being separated by only six yards (155-149).
Marshall had an impressive first half, leading the statistical column for much of the opening half. VT took the lead with 5:09 left in the first half when Brandon Ore took a handoff over the right edge of the end zone for a 13-yard score. Ore had much success, finishing with 146 yards on 19 carries. The running back was not stopped for a loss on the day.
Snyder said there was little preparation for Ore, who is the third-string running back on the Hokie depth chart. However, he was forced into action when second-string tailback Cedric Humes went down with a broken arm early in the second quarter.
Humes was in for starter Mike Imoh, who took the week off to rest a sprained ankle. The stable of running backs behind him racked up 233 yards on 42 carries.
"I don't care if you are playing USC, that is too much," Snyder said. "It was a combination of things: tackling, gap responsibilities, everything."
In contrast to the previous two weeks, Marshall had a successful day running the football. The offensive line pushed around Virginia Tech defenders to gain 164 yards on 44 carries.
"They did great up front," Bradshaw said. "I can't say anything more about them. All of them kept fighting."
"Instead of running sideways, we were running downhill," Snyder said. "It is hard to create movement when you are running sideways. We got that done today and we need to build on that."
Ahmad Bradshaw led the Marshall rampage with 99 yards on 22 carries, including a 13-yard touchdown run which tied the game at 7 all early in the second quarter.
Saturday also proved to be a breakout game for Chubb Small. Small ripped off huge runs in the second half, gaining 57 yards on 14 carries. Small also caught an 18-yard touchdown from Morris for Marshall's second touchdown on the day.
"We found ourselves another running back in Chubb Small," Snyder said. "That was a good defense that he was rushing against and he looked like a big-time back. The thing that impressed me the most is that he was getting yards after contact. That is very exciting."
While the running game flourished, Morris struggled on the afternoon, finishing 14-of-28 for just 117 yards, with many of those coming late.
Snyder wanted to run the ball at Virginia Tech to control the clock and found success early. However, once the Thundering Herd was forced to go to the air, Morris and receivers had a difficult time hooking up as the Hokies pressure, along with a loud atmosphere, made for tough communication.
"Our game plan was their game plan," Snyder said. "Once you get behind, you have to start opening it up and doing some things you don't want to do against a pretty good defense."
(C) 2004 The Parthenon via U-WIRE