Rouse was ready for celebration
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Marshall defensive tackle James Rouse appeared headed for quite a reunion with family and former high school coaches.
However, Virginia Tech turned to a trademark of head coach Frank Beamer and blocked Justin Haig's potential game-winning field goal try from 39 yards in overtime after the Hokies had come up short on a field goal try moments earlier.
From there, Virginia Tech worked the game to a third overtime where quarterback Logan Thomas scored on a 2-yard run, then ran for the 2-point conversion for a 29-21 victory.
Then the Hokies passed the torch to the defense and they forced three straight incompletions by Thundering Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato and Virginia Tech secured the great escape while robbing Rouse of a post-game celebration. The redshirt senior is from Harrisonburg, Va., which is located off Interstate 64 and less than two hours from Blacksburg.
"I was jacked. My high school coaches were here," Rouse said. "It's great to see them, but it's bittersweet. It would've been better if we won."
Virginia Tech (3-1) scored with 6:16 left to tie the game, 21-21, then came up with an interception with 1:07 to play to force overtime. The Herd won the toss and went on defense and pushed the Hokies back eight yards and Ethan Keyserling was short on a 50-yard field goal try.
"We got off and gave our offense a chance to score," Rouse said. "We worked to get a good rush."
When Haig missed, the defense had more work to do.
"You can't get down or distracted," Rouse said. "We handled some adversity. You go out and make a stop again."
Rouse finished with six tackles, a half sack and one tackle for loss.
Marshall (2-2) has an open date this week. The Herd's next game is Oct. 5 at home against new Conference USA member UTSA. It will be Homecoming for Marshall at Joan C.Edwards Stadium.
"The bye week is good for us," Rouse said. "We'll get our legs back. This was a physical game."
Strong safety D.J. Hunter admitted the ride back to Huntington would be a long one.
"It's never acceptable to lose," he said. "Ain't nobody perfect, but I feel I let my team down, my defensive coordinator (Chuck Heater) down. We can't get down now. We have to keep our heads up and come back strong."
On Virginia Tech's game-tying TD, Willie Byrn hauled in the pass from Thomas after Herd defender Darryl Roberts deflected the ball.
"Things happen. That ball went their way," Hunter said. "What it comes down to is we have to finish."
Nickel back Corey Tindall's dejection was obvious as he met with the media.
"At the end of the day, we lose the game," he said. "We had it in our hands and gave it away. We put the offense in good position and it didn't work out."
Tindall also thought back to the tipped pass that ended up as a TD and the punt block the Hokies came up with on Marshall's first possession of the game. They returned it for a TD.
"A guy makes plays," he said. "Things don't go your way all the time. The only thing missing is the finish. We have to fight through this."
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