Pirates raid Herd#8217;s division title hopes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2007

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Even the best laid plans can go awry.

It’s an old clich/, but it fit the outcome of the Marshall Thundering Herd 33-20 loss to the East Carolina Pirates Saturday in a battle for first place in the Conference USA East Division.

As usual, Marshall’s plan was to run the football behind Doak Walker Award nominee Ahmad Bradshaw. But the plan backfired as Marshall was held to just 35 net yards on 14 carries.

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“They took us out of our game plan,” Marshall coach Mark Snyder said. “They did a good job of whipping us up front and taking away running lanes and that hurt us.”

Bradshaw, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark last week, was held to just 26 yards on 10 carries.

With the running game shut down and starting quarterback Bernard Bradshaw sidelined with an ankle injury, Jimmy Skinner took over the helm and completed 25 of 46 attempts for 305 yards with an interception.

Snyder didn’t blame the offense or defense. Instead, he focused on turnovers and a blocked punt as the Herd’s demise.

“We had two turnovers and a blocked punt in the first half and we can’t do that against a good team like ECU,” Snyder said. “Our defense did some good things and kept us in the game, but, again, turnovers, especially early, hurt us.”

East Carolina was limited to 74 yards rushing on 40 attempts, but Pirates quarterback James Pinkney was 21 of 27 passing for 270 yards, the 22nd

time in his career he has thrown for 200 or more yards.

“I thought James played very well. I thought he was very focused a dialed in,” East Carolina coach Skip Holtz said.

Marshall’s turnovers early helped East Carolina build 20-7 halftime cushion.

The Herd got within 23-14 on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Skinner to Cody Slate with 1:09 left it in the third quarter.

But the mild comeback bid didn’t last long.

Early in the fourth quarter, halfback Allison Aundre threw a 34-yard touchdown pass Steve Rogers.

“We thought is was a regular reverse,” Snyder said. “That play seemed like too lasted an hour. We had him stopped, we had him stopped and then lost him and all of the sudden he rears back to throw it and it was a great play by them.”

The loss snaps Marshall’s 3-game winning streak and leaves the Herd second in the East Division with a 4-6 record overall and 3-3 in the WAC.

East Carolina is 6-4 and leads the division at 5-2.