Defense holds off VaTech as Herd wins 24-17

Published 11:36 pm Saturday, September 23, 2023


Marshall Associate A.D. of  Communications

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. –Marshall’s Rasheen Ali rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns and the Thundering Herd defense got a critical fourth-down stop late to solidify a 24-17 win over ACC foe Virginia Tech in front of 31,475 fans at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Saturday.

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With the win, Marshall moves to 3-0 on the season and notches its second consecutive season with a victory over a Power Five program.

“Our guys battled and found a way to win,” said Marshall head coach Charles Huff, who moved to 2-0 against Power Five competition in his tenure. “I think our process helped us out toward the end there. We talked about discipline being really big and execution being really big. It showed up today in crucial moments.”

With the game on the line, Marshall’s defense stood tall and made plays when needed to earn the victory.

Virginia Tech faced a fourth-and-1 from the Marshall 31, but a false start penalty pushed the Hokies back five yards. Defensive back Josh Moten then broke up the fourth-down pass attempt – his second breakup of the final drive – as the Herd got off the field and into victory formation.

“That was a spitting image of the process to go out there for 60 minutes and play with max effort and play with an intensity that the other team can’t match,” said Marshall linebacker Eli Neal, who finished tied with a team-high nine tackles. “That’s what we pride ourselves on, and being able to go into that fourth quarter and finish the game was big for us.”

The win was Marshall’s first over a Power Five opponent in Huntington since defeating Purdue, 41-31, on Sept. 6, 2015.

Marshall led 17-10 at halftime and extended that lead to 24-10 on Rasheen Ali’s 1-yard touchdown run with 7:22 left in the third quarter, which came after Ali broke loose on a 61-yard run that put the Herd in the red zone.

That run capped a 7-play, 98-yard drive in which the Herd utilized a Virginia Tech penalty on third down to get out of the shadow of its own end zone.

Ali’s first touchdown run – a 56-yard burst off the right side – gave Marshall the lead for good during a 17-point second quarter in which the offense found its rhythm.

Virginia Tech scored on its opening drive of the game on a 31-yard run by Kyron Drones, but Marshall knotted the game when quarterback Cam Fancher found wide receiver DeMarcus Harris for a 12-yard scoring pass just 10 seconds into the second quarter to tie the game.

Fancher finished 16 of 27 for 166 yards with the touchdown pass and two interceptions.

Defensively, Micah Abraham continued his strong play on the outside with three pass breakups while defensive back Kerion Martin also set a career-high with nine tackles in the win.

Marshall now sets its sights on its first Sun Belt contest of the season as Old Dominion visits Joan C. Edwards Stadium next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. for Homecoming 2023.

Virginia Tech 7 3 0 7 17
Marshall 0 17 7 0 24

First Quarter

VT–Drones 31 run (Love kick), 11:59.

Second Quarter

MRSH–Harris 12 pass from Fancher (Verhoff kick), 14:50.

VT–FG Love 21, 11:47.

MRSH–Ali 56 run (Verhoff kick), 9:10.

MRSH–FG Verhoff 21, 2:55.

Third Quarter

MRSH–Ali 1 run (Verhoff kick), 7:22.

Fourth Quarter

VT–Drones 16 run (Love kick), 7:14.



First downs 16 19
Total Net Yards 344 380
Rushes-yards 30-184 44-214
Passing 160 166
Punt Returns 3-31 0-0
Kickoff Returns 2-29 1-26
Interceptions Ret. 2-4 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 19-35-0 16-27-2
Sacked-Yards Lost 4-27 2-12
Punts 7-42.143 5-41.4
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 9-70 3-30
Time of Possession 27:14 32:46



RUSHING–Virginia Tech, Tuten 9-88, Drones 15-75, Lane 2-11, Thomas 4-10. Marshall, Ali 27-174, E.Payne 8-29, Fancher 8-14, (Team) 1-(minus 3).

PASSING–Virginia Tech, Drones 19-35-0-160. Marshall, Fancher 16-27-2-166.

RECEIVING–Virginia Tech, Tuten 5-45, B.Gosnell 4-52, S.Gosnell 3-32, Felton 3-10, Wright 2-15, Greene 1-5, Lane 1-1. Marshall, C.Conley 5-35, Coombs 4-41, E.Payne 2-36, Simmons 1-24, Harris 1-12, McMillan 1-12, J.Harrison 1-7, Pierce 1-(minus 1).

MISSED FIELD GOALS–Marshall, Verhoff 49.