Virginia Tech Beats Marshall, 47-21
HANK KURZ Jr.
Sep. 13, 2002
%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:VASH106-091202; AUDIO:%)
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) _ Kevin Jones and Lee Suggs each ran for more than 150 yards and combined for five touchdowns as No. 11 Virginia Tech stymied Byron Leftwich and No. 16 Marshall in a 47-21 victory Thursday night.
Playing rugged defense and challenging the Thundering Herd (1-1) to stop the running game, the Hokies (3-0) led 33-0 before Leftwich could get his team on the board in the fourth quarter.
The Hokies ran for 396 yards and six touchdowns. Joines gained 171 yards, scoring on runs of 25, 15 and 1 yards, and Suggs had 153 yards, with two 1-yard scoring dives.
John Candelas added a late touchdown run for Virginia Tech.
Leftwich, burned by a sure touchdown pass that was dropped and another that could have been caught, regrouped to throw for 406 yards and three touchdowns. All three scoring passes came in the final 12 minutes.
The Heisman Trophy hopeful was 31-for-49 and extended his string of 400-yard games to five. The Thundering Herd managed just 34 yards rushing.
The Hokies also played their game, repeatedly pinning Marshall deep in its own territory. The Herd did not start a drive beyond their 25 until the final quarter.
By the time Marshall scored on a 9-yard bullet from Leftwich to Darius Watts, the Hokies were up 33-0.
Leftwich added an 18-yard scoring throw to Denero Marriott with 4:20 left and a 19-yarder to Brad Bates with 2:25 remaining before leaving the game.
The game began with Marshall hoping to gain respect for its program not afforded by its success in the Mid-American Conference, but the Hokies didn't let it happen and turned their visitors into the Blundering Herd.
Virginia Tech scored on its first four possessions, helped by a fumble on Marshall's opening series and a dump pass that Leftwich threw right into the arms of linebacker Mikal Baaqee. Both turnovers set up field goals by Carter Warley, and Jones scored on runs of 25 and 15 yards.
Jones' first touchdown capped a nine-play, 90-yard drive started when Marshall kicker Curtis Head's 22-yard field-goal try hit one of his own lineman in the backside. Nine running plays covered the 90 yards.
The Thundering Herd gained 223 yards before the break, but started their six first-half drives on their 20, 15, 12, 14, 25 and 18.
In the second half, the Hokies erased any thoughts of a Marshall comeback by driving 85 yards in 15 plays for Suggs' first scoring run. The drive trimmed more than eight minutes off the clock and made it 26-0.
The loss kept Marshall winless in four game against To 25 teams. The win was the second in a row against a ranked team for the Hokies, who beat No. 25 LSU 26-8 on Sept. 1.
Playing its third straight game at home, Virginia Tech began the evening by retiring the jersey of coach Frank Beamer, who was a starting cornerback for the Hokies from 1966-68. He wore No. 25.
Before kickoff, the public address announcer also led the Pledge of Allegiance, the stadium went silent as a tribute to the heroes and victims of last Sept. 11 and the Tech band played ``The Star-Spangled Banner.''
At halftime, the band spelled out ``NYPD'' and then ``FDNY'' on the field and a bugler played ``Taps'' during a 21-gun salute to the rescue heroes.