For a football team lacking confidence, any break they can get, they will take. That is the place that the Virginia Tech football team is in now. Saturday at Marshall, the Hokies dropped their third straight game, 24-17, and now sit at 1-3 four weeks into the 2023 season. It feels like rock-bottom and we’re not even to October yet. Yikes.
For a team struggling in all phases of the game, they need to make the plays when they have the opportunity and they also have to stop the big plays from the other team. That wasn’t the case against the Thundering Hurd and these three plays were devastating to the Hokies in their seven-point loss at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Virginia Tech’s second drive and turning the ball over on downs
Talk about a dream start for coach Brent Pry and his team. They took the opening kickoff and marched down the field on the game’s opening possession. They piled up 75 yards, 62 on the ground, and capped the drive with a Kyron Drones touchdown run. On the Thundering Hurd’s first possession, Keli Lawson had an interception to set the Hokies up near midfield.
An opening drive touchdown, then an interception on the road to begin the game? A coach’s dream. It didn’t end up that way. Virginia Tech faced a fourth-and-3 from the Marshall 31-yard line, Pry passed on a field goal and went for it, but Drones threw an incomplete pass on fourth down into triple coverage. Look to throw it short, run the ball, try a field goal, or anything else gives the Hokies a much better opportunity to grab a two-possession lead and all the momentum. Does it mean they win the game? No, but they have a lot more confidence. They had to make Marshall pay and they didn’t.
Rasheen Ali’s big touchdown run in the first half
Virginia Tech held a 10-7 lead with 9:10 left in the second quarter and Marshall was facing a 3rd-and-2 from their 44. After taking the lead with a field goal, the Hokies defense was looking to get off the field with a stop. It didn’t happen.
Marshall running back Rasheen Ali took a handoff and raced 56 yards to paydirt to give the Thundering Hurd their first lead of the game and they would not lose it the rest of the game. All that was needed was a stop on 3rd-and-short and the Hokies couldn’t do it. Game-changing play.
Questionable personal foul penalty in the fourth quarter
First and foremost, I’m never one to blame officials. I’ll laugh at the silliness but never blame them. However, it appeared the Hokies got off the field with a three-and-out with just under five minutes remaining and trailing by a touchdown. Instead, they were called for a personal foul on a sliding quarterback when it appeared that two defensive players tried to avoid him and made very minimal contact.
Instead, the Thundering Hurd got a fresh set of downs and the Hokies still got a stop but got the ball back with 2:55 left instead of just under five minutes and more time. Virginia Tech should have never put themselves in the situation to have the penalty called. Tough call.
The only way is up for the Hokies next week against Pittsburgh. It can’t get any worse, can it?