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Beating Marshall, Hokies Regain Their Footing

With a rambling rushing offense, the No. 14 Virginia Tech crushed Marshall, 52-10, before a sell out crowd of 66,223 at Lane Stadium.

The Hokies romped for 605 yards of offense, 444 on the ground. David Wilson rushed for 165 yards and Ryan Williams had 164. It was the first time the Hokies had two running backs rush for 100 yards in a game since 2005.

The breezy win provided the balm the Hokies (1-1) needed in the wake of their 34-24 loss to Alabama. In that game, Virginia Tech gained only 155 yards of total offense and its exhausted defense relented five plays of 20 or more yards. The performance soured the mood in Blacksburg among fans of the program.

“Coming off of last week,” Coach Frank Beamer said, “people were asking, Could come back up? How much was that going to hurt us mentally? What was it going to do to us? I thought our coaches gave a great response today.”

Against the weaker Thundering Herd (1-1) of Conference USA, Virginia Tech was unequivocal. There were patches of empty seats by the time fans were doing Hokie Pokie before the fourth quarter. The Hokies’ offense looked crisp. Much of the Thundering Herd’s offensive output came on two plays, of 61 and 60 yards. And Jayron Hosley ran for a 64-yard punt return touchdown in the second quarter.

“Overall,” Beamer said, “it was a really good day for us.”

While Virginia Tech’s rushing attack emerged, the passing offense still lacked punch most of the afternoon. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw for 161 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception, completing 9 of 16 passes. He also ran for 58 yards.

Taylor did not display a deft passing touch early, but settled as the game went on, because he said he “just kept playing the game.” Taylor connected with Danny Coale on a high arcing 43-yard pass. At the end of the second half, Taylor found Dyrell Roberts for a 21-yard touchdown pass after tap-dancing away from pressure.

“It’s a great confidence booster,” Taylor said of the Hokies’ performance. “We could have still could have made more plays, so we got to watch film and play better.”

The Hokies were playing without boundary cornerback Stephan Virgil, who said he tweaked his left knee while making a tackle against Alabama. Although Virgil is the team’s most experienced cornerback, Virginia Tech limited Marshall to 126 passing yards and forced it to punt 10 times.

Marshall’s top performer was running back Darius Marshall, who ran for 109 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Marshall scored the Thundering Herd’s lone touchdown on a 61-yard run that opened as a result of solid blocking by his offensive line.

But it was Williams and Wilson who stole the show. Although they each missed a block in pass protection – a weakness in their game – they showed great instincts as runners and a the ability to provide a spark.

Speaking about the running backs’ big-play ability, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said it was “an important commodity in the game you have to have.” The offensive output was the most in Stinespring’s eight-year tenure as offensive coordinator.

At least momentarily, the win banished the memories of the Hokies’ loss to the Crimson Tide in the Georgia Dome. It was an important step for Virginia Tech.

“I think it’s extremely significant they were able to go out and do this,” Stinespring said. “They’re not oblivious to the questions and reservations and things they have to answer.”

By Mark Viera  |  September 12, 2009; 6:39 PM ET
 
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