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Quick start in second half thwarts ECU

Nov. 30, 2013 @ 12:19 AM

HUNTINGTON -- East Carolina converted two turnovers into 10 points late in the second quarter and suddenly the Pirates regained some spirit as they ran to the locker room down 24-10 after trailing 24-0 earlier in Saturday's key Conference USA football game against Marshall in Joan C. Edward Stadium.

During the season Marshall had some issues finishing games, so the Pirates held out hope those problems would surface again and they could mount a second-half comeback and claim the league's East Division title instead of the Thundering Herd.

The response by Marshall's players: Not this time.

Deandre Reaves gave the first indication when he returned the second-half kickoff 42 yards to the 47 and the Herd moved 53 yards in nine plays, the TD coming on a 2-yard run by Devon Johnson. Later in the quarter, Tyler Williams lofted a 57-yard punt that the Herd downed at the East Carolina 10. Two plays later Pirates quarterback Shane Carden attempted a screen pass, but didn't see Gary Thompson in the lane. The redshirt freshman got the interception -- one of three by the Herd-- and sprinted five yards for a score that increased the lead to 38-13.

Marshall stayed on the attack and rolled to a 59-28 victory.

"They had momentum and we had to come out and get it back. We did," Herd running back Steward Butler said. "We've had trouble finishing in the past. We weren't going to let that happen today."

"It was shutdown time," said running back Essray Taliaferro about the Herd's second-half performance. "This one was ours."

"They had a little momentum going into halftime, but we came back out in the second half and played well," Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. "We knew going in that they were going to make a few plays and they did. Bottom line is, at the end of the day, we held them enough to find a way to win the game."

FAST START: In the last four games, Marshall has outscored the opposition 87-10 in the first quarter. The Herd led 17-0 after one period Saturday. That's the most points given up by the Pirates this season. Previous high was 10 against Middle Tennessee.

TOUGH AT HOME: The Herd has won eight straight home games dating back to last season, the longest home winning streak since 17 from 2000-03 (last three of 2000, all six in 2001, all seven in 2002, first game of 2003).

TV RECORD: Marshall has appeared on national television (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, ESPN3, CSTV, Fox, CBS, ABC or CBS SportsNetwork) 89 times, with a record of 40-49.

WOW: The 59 points, 267 yards rushing and 539 total yards were the most allowed by East Carolina in a game this season.

TOUGH TO BEAT: Holliday's four Herd teams are 15-4 in late-season games (after Oct. 28). ... The Herd went 5-0 in November. The 6-0 home mark is its best since 2002 (also 6-0). Marshall's 9-3 mark is its best since the 2002 team went 11-2.

BOOM: Justin Haig's 42-yard field goal in the first period is his longest of the season and third longest of his career.

NO STOPPING US: The Herd had its longest scoring drive of the season Saturday, 97 yards on seven plays in the first quarter. The previous best was 94 yards against UAB.

JERSEY FOR BOLLAND: Sgt. C.A. "Tony" Bolland, a 25-year member of the West Virginia State Police and former Herd player, is about to retire. He's spent 19 years doing team security for Marshall football (home and away). He received a jersey with a No. 19 to honor his years of service. He played for Marshall from 1984-87.

TOP RECEIVER: East Carolina's Justin Hardy caught 10 passes for 88 yards. That brings his single-season record total to 105 receptions.

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