Quick scoring surge gives Herd 31-13 win over Pirates

Published 10:36 pm Saturday, September 9, 2023


Marshall Associate A.D. of Communications

GREENVILLE, N.C. –Marshall scored 21 points in less than five minutes of the fourth quarter to overcome a deficit and earn a 31-13 win over East Carolina at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in a wild, rain-soaked evening on Saturday.

Email newsletter signup

With the win, Marshall moves to 2-0 on the season and earned its first win in eight all-time tries against the Pirates in Greenville.

“This game means a lot to a lot of people connected to both these universities,” Marshall head coach Charles Huff said. “We talked to the team before the game. The way you honor someone is how you do something. I think they played with the right mentality. We still have a lot of things to clean up.”

Trailing 13-10 entering the final period, Marshall used a trick play to take the lead as Chuck Montgomery hit Caleb McMillan for a 75-yard touchdown that gave the Herd the lead for good.

That score came after ECU had taken possession in Marshall territory looking to add to its lead, but Marshall’s defense pushed the Pirates backward in a key juncture of the game.

From there, Marshall running back Rasheen Ali took over, bouncing outside and out-racing the East Carolina defense for a 56-yard score that made it a two-score lead.

That score came after Herd quarterback Cam Fancher connected with Jayden Harrison on a 29-yard pass on 3rd-and-16 that prolonged the Herd’s drive.

Leading 24-13, Marshall’s defense went to work, cementing the game as cornerback Micah Abraham stepped in front of a Mason Garcia pass, giving the Herd possession in ECU territory.

Ali made quick work of the opportunity, scoring on a 14-yard run with 6:13 left to set the final score.

The junior from Cleveland, Ohio, finished with 85 yards and three touchdowns, but credited the defense for having the offense’s back, which put the team in position to win.

“That was huge for the defense,” Ali said. “The defense stepped up great today. I’m proud of them boys and I congratulated them every time they got off the sideline. I was super-excited to see them hold it down for us.”

Abraham later added a second interception of Garcia to put the game away. The interception also vaulted him into the top-10 in Marshall history.

“They just came out and battled,” Huff said. “We had to win the game, and that’s the mentality we have to have. Offensively, we have to feel like we have to go win the game. Defensively, we’ve got to say we’ve got to go win the game. I think the leadership showed up tonight. There were times where we could’ve folded and we didn’t.”

 Marshall’s big fourth quarter came after East Carolina took its first lead of the game with 6:04 left in the third quarter following a 30-yard field goal by Andrew Conrad that came after a near two-hour weather delay at halftime.

 After a scoreless first quarter, Marshall drove 79 yards for the game’s first touchdown with Ali diving in on a 1-yard touchdown run to open the scoring with 11:32 left in the first half. Ali’s 15-yard run on third-and-9 kept the drive moving and preceded the touchdown run.

Marshall’s next drive ended with a 20-yard field goal by Kameron Lake – the first of his career – to increase the lead to 10-0 with 6:03 left before halftime. Both drives were sustained with each going over 10 plays and taking 4-plus minutes off the clock.

ECU came back with 10 straight points, including a touchdown aided by a Marshall fumble deep in its own territory, to tie the game before halftime.

As both teams got ready to come out for the second half, a lightning delay forced the teams back into the locker room. In all, the weather delay took 1 hour, 41 minutes before play resumed at 7:32 p.m.

Fancher finished 15 of 28 for 178 yards in the win. Eli Neal and J.J. Roberts led the Herd with seven tackles each.

Marshall 0 10 0 21 31
East Carolina 0 10 3 0 13

Second Quarter

MRSH–Ali 1 run (Lake kick), 11:32.

MRSH–FG Lake 20, 6:03.

ECU–FG Conrad 39, 3:53.

ECU–Calhoun 2 pass from Garcia (Conrad kick), 2:22.

Third Quarter

ECU–FG Conrad 30, 6:04.

Fourth Quarter

MRSH–McMillan 75 pass from C.Montgomery (Verhoff kick), 11:07.

MRSH–Ali 56 run (Lake kick), 7:16.

MRSH–Ali 14 run (Lake kick), 6:13.



First downs 22 13
Total Net Yards 392 269
Rushes-yards 38-131 38-146
Passing 261 123
Punt Returns 1-2 2-8
Kickoff Returns 2-32 2-47
Interceptions Ret. 2-2 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 17-30-0 13-31-2
Sacked-Yards Lost 0-0 3-13
Punts 4-36.5 5-40.4
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 4-39 11-112
Time of Possession 26:22 36:39



RUSHING–Marshall, Ali 18-85, Fancher 15-30, E.Payne 4-16, (Team) 1-0. East Carolina, Garcia 16-118, Harris 9-29, Gunn 4-5, Bond 6-4, Flinn 3-(minus 10).

PASSING–Marshall, Fancher 15-28-0-178, C.Montgomery 1-1-0-75, McMahon 1-1-0-8. East Carolina, Garcia 10-23-1-62, Flinn 3-8-1-61.

RECEIVING–Marshall, McMillan 4-85, Ali 4-45, C.Conley 2-35, J.Harrison 2-34, Keaton 2-29, C.Montgomery 1-16, Harris 1-10, E.Payne 1-7. East Carolina, Hatfield 4-57, J.Johnson 4-37, Harris 1-8, J.Patterson 1-7, Spalding 1-7, Sowell 1-5, Calhoun 1-2.

MISSED FIELD GOALS–Marshall, Lake 33. East Carolina, Conrad 45.