Overtime Win Against ECU Sends Herd Bowling|
Nov. 26, 2011
HUNTINGTON, W.VA. - In the final game of the regular season and with postseason implications on the line, Marshall used an overtime finish to beat the East Carolina Pirates on senior day, 34-27.
Marshall finished the season 6-6 (5-3 C-USA), while ECU ended their year with a 5-7 (4-4 C-USA) record.
"Obviously this was a great win for us," said head coach Doc Holliday after the game. "I'm really proud of the football team and the way they played. They hung in there, kept fighting and that's exactly what we do. This game was huge for us for obvious reasons. This win gives us an opportunity to go to a bowl."
Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato threw 23-for-29 and finished with 341 yards. The freshman's passing performance marked the first 300-plus yard game of his career.
Aaron Dobson added two touchdown receptions to Marshall's final score. The junior wide-out had 110 yards receiving in the game.
Strong safety Phillp Warren, led the Herd defense with 13 tackles, while Omar Brown and Devin Arrington followed with 11 tackles each. Rashad Jackson was responsible for two ECU turnovers, grabbing two interceptions during the contest.
On the first play of the game, Marshall started the final home contest of the season with a 77-yard touchdown reception by Dobson off a reverse play-action pass from Cato.
During the following kickoff, Warren forced ECU to fumble the return and Alex Fazzie recovered the ball at the ECU 21 yard line.
Tyler Warner added a 24-yard field goal after the Pirate turnover, giving the Herd a 10-0 lead in the first 2:00 minutes of the game after only five plays.
ECU responded with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Dominique Davis to Justin Jones to make the score 10-7.
Following the Pirate score, the Herd was pushed back deep in their own territory with 7:27 left in the first quarter. Facing a 3rd-and-4, Cato completed a pass to Antavious Wilson for 16 yards, but ECU's Derek Blacknall forced a fumble to give ECU efficient field position at the Marshall 32.
After driving to the Marshall 2-yard line, Davis completed another touchdown to Jones in the right corner of the end-zone to give the Pirates a 13-10 lead with three minutes left in the opening quarter.
Following nearly 10 minutes of scoreless drives from both teams, ECU extended the lead with a 57-yard field goal from ECU kicker, Mike Barbour. The score stood at 17-10 with 8:19 left in the second quarter.
The Herd answered after a Jackson interception led to what could be Marshall's play of the year by Dobson. Dobson's remarkable one-handed catch from Cato for 13 yards in the left corner of the end-zone tied the game 17-17.
ECU took the ensuing kickoff with 39 seconds left in the half and the Pirates pushed for a three-point lead to go into the locker rooms after Barbour set a new ECU school record with a 58-yard field goal, making the Pirates lead 20-17.
At the half, Cato had thrown 11-for-14 and 117 yards. The freshman quarterback recorded two touchdowns, both to his favorite target Dobson. Dobson marked 110 receiving yards in the first 30 minutes.
On ECU's opening drive of the second half, Jackson earned his second interception of the game to set up a 71-yard drive that ended with a 23-yard field goal by Warner to tie the score 20-20.
The remainder of the third quarter and a majority of the fourth quarter remained scoreless until Marshall's Travon Van busted through a huge hole to score a 33-yard touchdown and give the Herd a 27-20 lead with 4:49 left in the final period. The touchdown was Van's third rushing score of the season.
With 14 seconds left in the game the Pirates drove 82 yards and sent the game into overtime with a 6-yard pass for a touchdown from Davis to Jones. Of all of the Pirates trips to the end-zone, Jones had every touchdown.
At the end of regulation, the score was tied at 27-27.
Marshall took possession at the 25-yard line in the first overtime and on the first play Van took a pass from Cato for 24 yards. Martinez capitalized on the play with a 1-yard push for a touchdown to take a 34-27 lead in the overtime period.
The Marshall defense used the energy of 22,456 Herd fans to hold strong on ECU's overtime possession and forced the Pirates to throw an interception on 4th and 12, giving the Herd a 34-27 win.
The Herd finished with 445 yards of total offense, with 341 yards being in the air. Offensively, Marshall was 4-of-4 in the redzone.
The Herd defense forced five turnovers in the game and Marshall overall had a plus-four turnover margin.
Marshall's six wins for the year is the most since the 2009 season and the 5-3 Conference USA standing is the best league finish the Herd has ever recorded.