BLACKSBURG, VA—Even after Marshall let its fourth quarter lead slip away Herd fans had the feeling Marshall would pull out the upset at Lane Stadium. Marshall won the toss to start overtime and the defense forced Virginia Tech to attempt a long field goal in monsoon-like conditions that came up well short.
Marshall had a chance to win the game.
However, many fans were left perplexed by Marshall’s play calling in the first overtime period. Even though Tommy Shuler had nine catches for 110 yards and Virginia Tech could not stop the Cato Shuler connection all day, Marshall ran threw straight run plays up the middle. Virginia Tech was ready and stopped each one at the line of scrimmage.
Justin Haig was sent in to attempt a 39-yard field goal for the win. That’s not a chip shot on a good day, but it was dubious at best with a driving rain falling and a less than ideal footing. The snap was high and Virginia Tech’s special teams came up with the block and sent the game on to the second overtime.
“I thought at that point it was sloppy out there. I felt that he had been consistent from the 25-yard line and we felt that he could put us in a position to win the game and unfortunately we couldn’t get it done,” coach Doc Holliday explained.
Players weren’t questioning the call after the game.
“What ever he’s calling he must know something and whatever he calls we just try to execute it as best we can,” said quarterback Rakeem Cato.
Cato is right to an extent but it was clear Virginia Tech knew exactly what was coming and was going to force Marshall to throw the ball or move toward the boundary if it was going to gain any yardage.
“That’s what we practiced. Get the ball in the middle of the field for the field goal kicker and we win but they blocked,” receiver Tommy Shuler said.
A long field goal, in the rain, against Frank Beamer’s special teams? The odds were not in Marshall’s favor on that field goal attempt.
It was one of several opportunities Marshall had to win the game but let slip away.