BLACKSBURG - Virginia Tech overcame a bit of a sluggish start by scoring 17 points within a 3:29 span early in the second half, and that lifted the Hokies to a 41-14 non-conference victory over Marshall on Saturday afternoon on a bittersweet Homecoming Day at Lane Stadium.
With the win, the Hokies remained perfect at 6-0 and actually became the first Division I-A team to be bowl-eligible (though several 5-0 teams play later Saturday). Marshall fell to 2-3 on the season.
Tech, though, got a bad break - literally - in this one as starting tailback Cedric Humes fractured his right arm in the second quarter. Tech's sports medicine staff said Humes, a redshirt senior from Virginia Beach, Va., could potentially return for the Hokies' next game at Maryland on Oct. 20th, but is listed as doubtful.
"I just feel so bad for Cedric," Tech running backs coach Billy Hite said after the game. "He's just a great competitor and he works so hard. He's a great person and it's just a shame that something like this happened to him."
With Humes out, the Hokies relied on the running of Branden Ore, a redshirt freshman from Virginia Beach, Va. Ore, who moved up to No. 2 on the depth chart because of the absence of another tailback (Mike Imoh, ankle) became the first Tech tailback all season to rush for more than 100 yards, amassing 146 yards on 19 carries and scoring one touchdown.
Ore broke a 7-all tie midway through the second quarter on a 14-yard touchdown run that capped an 80-yard drive. Brandon Pace's extra point gave the Hokies a 14-7 lead with 5:09 left in the first half, and that's how it ended heading to the locker room.
In the second half, Ore's 45-yard run - a play in which he broke four tackles - set up a 19-yard field goal by Pace that started a second-half Tech onslaught. The Hokies scored 50 seconds after Pace's field goal on a 15-yard fumble return by mike linebacker Vince Hall, taking a 24-7 lead with 11:01 left in the third quarter.
Then, less than three minutes later, quarterback Marcus Vick hit receiver David Clowney for a 48-yard touchdown that gave the Hokies a 31-7 lead and blew the game open.
Ore, who came into the game with 106 yards on 23 carries for the season, rushed for 115 of his 146 yards in the second half.
"Branden really gave us a lift," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "He's got some speed and he can juke past you. He did a nice job for his first time playing when it really counted."
Tech also got a nice game from George Bell, another redshirt freshman. Bell rushed for 25 yards on five carries, scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown. As a team, Tech rushed for 233 yards on the day.
Vick enjoyed a pedestrian day, completing 11-of-16 for 163 yards, with a touchdown and an interception - just his second interception this season. Josh Morgan led all Tech receivers with four catches for 63 yards, while Eddie Royal caught three passes for 34 yards and Clowney caught two for 56 yards.
Defensively, the Hokies got on track in the second half. Marshall rushed for 131 yards in the first half against a Tech defense that went into the game allowing just 90 yards rushing per game. But in the second half, Marshall amassed just 33 yards rushing and did not mount much of a threat until scoring on its final drive against most of Tech's reserves.
"They came out and ran it right at us," Beamer said. "They had a nice plan, and we weren't tackling and coming off blocks like we should have. But we hung in there and got better as the day went along, and I'm proud of those guys for doing that."
Marshall's attack was led by tailback Ahmad Bradshaw, who rushed for 99 yards on 22 carries, and scored a touchdown. That score came on a 13-yard run early in the second quarter.
Humes rushed for 58 yards on 10 carries against the Herd, scoring Tech's first touchdown on an 11-yard run early in the game. That touchdown marked his fourth rushing touchdown of the season.
The Hokies take next weekend off before jumping back into conference play. Tech gets ready to head to College Park, Md., for a Thursday night game against the Maryland Terrapins on Oct. 20th. Kickoff is slated for 7:45, with the game being televised by ESPN.