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Pirates rally past Herd in C-USA

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Sometimes it’s just better to be lucky than good.

Lady luck sailed with the East Carolina Pirates Saturday as they rallied to edge the Marshall Thundering Herd 21-17 in a key Conference USA East Division game.

The pivotal play in the Pirates’ winning scoring drive was a third-and-11 pass to Dwayne Harris for 13 yards in which Harris caught the ball lying on his back.

“They made a couple more plays than us,” said Herd coach Mark Snyder. “The one play that broke our backs was the (ECU receiver) falls down and rolls over and still makes the catch. Sometimes the horseshoe is against you.”

East Carolina is 3-2 and leads the East Division at 2-0. Marshall slips to 3-2 and 1-1.

Herd running back Darius Marshall had another strong game with 28 carries for 141 yards and two touchdowns, but the passing game struggled.

Quarterback Brian Anderson was 16-of-31 for 127 yards and two interceptions including 3-of-10 passing for just 10 yards in the first half. Anderson spent the game under pressure by the Pirates’ defense.

“We weren’t giving Brian enough time to throw the ball and that was disappointing,” said Snyder.

The first half was comprised of three long, time-consuming scoring drives.

East Carolina used an 11-play, 80-yard drive to get on the scoreboard with 5:31 left in the first quarter. Brandon Jackson had a 1-yard run for the score.

Marshall then went on an 80-yard drive of its own covering 13 plays and capped by Darius Marshall’s 1-yard run to tie the game with 13:36 left in the half.

The Pirates got the ball and went on a 68-yard, 11-play march that consumed all but 26 seconds of the final 4:21 in the half. Dominique Lindsay ran 3yards for the touchdown and ECU was up 14-7 at the break.

The Herd got a spark from the defense to start the second half when Brandon Burns intercepted a Patrick Pinkney pass at the Pirates’46.

The Herd drove to the ECU 11-yard line but Cody Slate dropped a third down-and-4 pass forcing Marshall to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Ratanamorn with 10:09 on the clock to make it 14-10.

East Carolina had trouble on its next possession as well. A penalty cost the Pirates 5 yards and then John Jacobs tackled Lindsay for a 5-yard loss on a pass play. A third down pass fell incomplete.

Matt Dodge boomed a 58-yard punt and Marshall got the ball back at its own 36 with 8:02 on the clock.

The Herd then went on an 8-play drive that included seven running plays and a 12-yard pass to Slate. The drive culminated with a 20-yard touchdown burst by Darius Marshall with 3:52 on the clock that gave Marshall its first lead of the game at 17-14.

East Carolina came back with a drive that was aided by a 15-yard pass interference penalty against DeQuan Bembry that put the ball at the Herd 15.

A chop block moved the ball back to the 30, but Pinkney kept the ball and scored as time ran out to put the Pirates back on top at 21-17.

Marshall got into East Carolina territory at the start of the fourth quarter, but Anderson was intercepted by Emanuel Davis when he floated a pass trying to throw it away.

The Herd got the ball back with 1:44 to play but was backed up to its own 5-yard line. On a third down at their own 32, Anderson was intercepted by Jeremy Chambliss at the 43-yard line with 39 seconds left to seal the Herd’s fate.

East Carolina 7 7 7 0 = 21

Marshall 0 7 10 0 = 17

First Quarter

ECU — Brandon Jackson 1 run (Ben Hartman kick) 5:31

Second Quarter

Mar — Darius Marshall 1 run (Craig Ratanamorn kick) 13:36

ECU — Dominique Lindsay 3 run (Ben Hartman kick) 0:26

Third Quarter

Mar — Darius Marshall 20 run (Craig Ratanamorn kick) 3:52

ECU — Patrick Pinkney 30 run (Ben Hartman kick) 0:00

Attendance: 26,814

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ECU Mar

First downs 17 18

Rushes-yards 35-155 38-179

Passing yards 131 127

Total yards 286 306

Cmp-Att-Int 14-23-1 16-32-2

Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0

Penalties-yards 10-65 8-69

Punts-average 5-39.6 3-38.7

Time of Possession 27:06 32:54

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Individual Leaders

RUSHING— East Carolina, Dominique Lindsay 18-76, Patrick Pinkney 1-30, Dwayne Harris 5-28, Brandon Jackson 10-23, Team 1-(minus 2). Marshall, Darius Marshall 28-141, Brian Anderson 5-20, Andre Booker 3-13, Martin Ward 2-5.

PASSING— East Carolina, Patrick Pinkney 14-23-1-131. Marshall, Brian Anderson 16-31-2-127, Cody Slate 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING— East Carolina, Dwayne Harris 6-57, Dominique Lindsay 3-23, Joe Womack 2-17, Brandon Jackson 2-15, Reyn Willis 1-19. Marshall, Cody Slate 9-88, Antavious Wilson 3-18, Darius Marshall 2-11, Jamal Wilson 1-6, Chuck Walker 1-4.

MISSED FIELD GOALS: None.