GREENVILLE, N.C. - In what was the highest scoring game in the history of Conference USA, East Carolina's Shane Carden scored from one yard out in double overtime to beat Marshall 65-59 on Senior Day
in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Despite 633 yards of offense from the Thundering Herd, ECU(8-3/7-1) generated 555 yards of total offense of their own in the win.
Carden connected on 38 of 47 for 439 yards and three touchdowns for ECU while Marshall's Rakeem Cato hit on 31 of 40 for 318 yards and five touchdowns before going out with a knee injury in the third quarter.
Vintavious Cooper went over the 1,000 yard plateau in rushing for the season with 56 yards on just 14 carries. Cooper also scored two touchdowns for the Pirates.
The Marshall running game was in good hands.
Essray Taliaferro ran for 130 yards and a touchdown, but in the end it wasn't enough.
ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill said the big word of the day was "heart". Brian Mitchell's defense down the stretch "could have felt sorry for themselves or expect somebody to feel sorry for you, then it doesn't happen" and just not finish the deal at the end, but the ECU defense came up big in the end.
"Big win - probably an understatement. The word that comes to us is heart. Someone asked me on Monday if I thought it was going to be a shootout, I said no. But we darn sure got one. I'm really proud of our players and our coaching staff. We break our season down to four quarters. 8-4 and 7 and 1 in the conference," said McNeill, "It's not what you do in September, they remember what you do in November. To win three games in November. I was glad to win. Shane, a great game. Justin Hardy, I don't need to say how good he is. Whether it's a game next week in Tulsa or a bowl game, we'll be ready to go. Great win."
East Carolina jumped out to an early 28-7 lead in the first half, but Marshall began to make a comeback in the second quarter.
Rakeem Cato passed to Aaron Dobson to the left for 32 yard touchdown for the first score of the game to give Marshall a 7-0 lead.
A 59 yard touchdown to Jabril Solomon and a one yard Carden quarterback sneek got ECU out ahead early.
Three Rakeem Cato touchdown passes in the second stanza brought the Herd back to within seven when Rakeem Cato hit Tommy Shuler down the middle for 19 yard touchdown for his second touchdown grab of the game. Justin Haig's PAT made the score 35-28 going into the locker room.
The two quarterbacks passed for 476 yards combined in the first half alone. Carden went 16 of 18 in the first half while Cato completed 22 of 28.
Vintavious Cooper scored two touchdowns in the first two periods for the Pirates on one and nine yard runs.
Marshall took the football right down the field to open the second half. Rakeem Cato found Antavious Wilson for a 2 yard touchdown to tie the game at 35.
The Pirates answered on a five yard Reggie Bullock touchdown for a 42-35 lead.
Cato then left the game with an injury with just under seven minutes to play in the third quarter with a twisted knee. He was replaced by Blake Frohnapfel who picked up where Cato left off.
Justin Haig cut the lead to 42-38 on a 24 yard field goal to open the fourth quarter.
With 11:48 remaining in regulation, Blake Frohnapfel found a hole up the middle for 51 yard touchdown as Marshall finally took the lead 45-42 and the shootout was on.
Warren Harvey's 39 yard field goal tied the game at 45 with with 7:27 to go.
Marshall's Essray Taliaferro, who ran for 131 yard on 27 carries, put the Herd out front on a one yard touchdown with just under two minutes left to give the Herd a 52-45 lead.
After a terrific catch over the middle from
Justin Hardy, who caught an ECU record 16 passes on the day for ECU, the Pirates were suddenly in business in the Marshall redzone
as time was running out.
But with ten seconds left, ECU's Shane Carden searched around for someone to throw the football to and eventually found Danny Webster in the back of the endzone for a touchdown. Warren Harvey's PAT sent the game into overtime.
On the first play of the first overtime, Carden hit senior Andrew Bodenheimer, who has caught a pass in 32 straight games for ECU, in the endzone for a seven point, 59-52 lead.
Marshall answered when Frohnapfel passed to Antavious Wilson to the right four yard touchdown to tie the game at 59.
In the second overtime, Marshall got the football first but a Derrell Johnson strip and fumble recovery from Chrishon Rose gave ECU the football needing only a field goal to win. Johnson ended up with 14 tackles for the day.
The Pirates pounded it in from there and Carden did the final deed from one yard out to win the contest 65-59.