The Herd missed a chance to lead by two scores twice - once by going three-and-out after the Hewitt pick, and then when Cato threw way short for Shuler on the left sideline and was picked off by Kendall Fuller.
After Tech's 14-play, 83-yard drive - finished by that Byrn catch off a deflection - tied the score, Cato was intercepted in the end zone by Jarrett.
But that was the product of a spectacular defensive play. Cato hooked up with Smith for a 47-yard bomb, and then tried the same play to the end zone on third-and-15. It looked like another perfect hookup, as the speedy Smith beat the cornerback.
But Jarrett came out of nowhere, arriving simultaneously with Smith and the ball, which he seized in the resulting collision.
"The safety, [the pass] was so deep I figured he wouldn't get there in time," Cato said. "I took a shot and he made a hell of a play."
As twisted as all that was, the overtimes were downright strange.
Tech had the ball first and went backward on a 9-yard sack. Keyserling was sent out for a 50-yard field goal on an increasingly sloppy field and didn't come close.
Coach Doc Holliday called for three Taliaferro runs up the middle and sent kicker Justin Haig to win it from 39 yards. The kick was blocked.
Marshall suffered a near-disastrous end to its second overtime. As Cato was sacked by J.R. Collins, he coughed up the ball to Tech tackle Derrick Hopkins, and the 311-pounder ran toward the end zone to end the game that way. He came up 15 yards short, as Taliaferro frantically ran him down.
"I was hoping Derrick could rumble, but he kind of ran out of gas at the end," said Bud Foster, Tech's defensive coordinator. "I think anybody but him would've scored."
On Tech's possession, Thomas gained a first down on consecutive 6-yard runs, and then the Hokies centered the field for a Keyserling 32-yard field goal - which missed. On to overtime No. 3.
After Thomas gave Tech its lead, Cato hit Shuler for 10 yards to the 15. He first tried for Shuler in the end zone on second down, but Shuler was impeded - held, he thought - on his route. Collins hurried Cato into a throwaway on third down.
On the last play, Cato had Allen open in the back left corner of the end zone and delivered the ball nicely, but Allen coughed it up when he hit the ground. With that, the Hokies breathed deep sighs of relief.
"It was on target," Cato said. "We run that all the time in practice. We got the matchup we wanted."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.