CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Hours before Marshall's offense committed three of the team's four turnovers and fell short against Ohio, the challenge for the following week became crystal clear.
Virginia Tech is known for its sturdy, swarming defense and that didn't change in a 15-10 win at East Carolina. After the Pirates took the opening drive 75 yards in five plays, the Hokies absorbed a chewing-out from defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
For the next 58 minutes, 21 seconds, the Hokies held ECU to 129 total yards, sacked Shane Carden seven times, intercepted him three times and forced a critical safety with 1:31 left.
The Hokies survived their own offensive struggles and a horrifying kicking day from the usually dependable Cody Journell. He missed an extra point and two field goals, leading to a decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 late in the game.
Spurred by a loud crowd of 50,096 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, the Pirates took over at their own 10 with 2:04 in the game - and the Hokies' defense took over. Defensive end James Gayle knocked the ball out of Carden's hands in the end zone, and ECU's Ike Harris had to recover to keep the safety from becoming a touchdown.
"When I saw we didn't get it [on fourth down], I just knew we had to pin our ears back and come and get him [Carden] since there were only two minutes left," Gayle said. "As a defensive lineman, that's what you want. I wish we were in that situation every week. Whenever we're ahead, that's when we get to use our moves and rush the passer."
Tech (2-1) was held to 53 yards rushing, and Logan Thomas went 25 of 43 for 258 yards. He was intercepted once, but nearly got picked off a few other times.
Marshall visits Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va., for a noon kickoff Saturday on ESPNU. The game is not yet a sellout, and tickets remain on sale through hokiesports.com.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.