HUNTINGTON — After three quarters, it appeared Marshall’s uptempo pace could go into cruise control after the Thundering Herd took a 17-point lead.
Marshall head coach Charles Huff stayed on the throttle, but it was East Carolina who found its steam, scoring 21 unanswered points in the final 7:31 of action to earn a 42-38 comeback win over Marshall in front of 24,833 fans at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Saturday night.
“We weren’t able to come up with some plays in the second half,” Huff said. “I’m proud of the way the guys fought, proud of the attitude they had. It hurts, but we’ve got to move on.”
Marshall (2-1) had several missed opportunities lead to its undoing Saturday night.
East Carolina’s defense struggled to stop the Herd offense all night, but Marshall had some self-inflicted issues that took points off the board — points that proved costly at the end.
Marshall quarterback Grant Wells had a big night through the air, finishing 24 of 39 for a career-high 433 yards, but had just one touchdown and two interceptions — the last of which came on his final pass, which was intercepted by East Carolina’s Ja’Quan McMillian at the goal line to end the game.
The teams combined for more than 1,200 yards of offense in the wild affair. Marshall out-gained East Carolina, 647-571, but left disappointed on a night in which the team honored the 1971 “Young Thundering Herd.”
That team was the first to take the field after the 1970 Marshall plane crash, which came following a 17-14 loss to ECU on Nov. 14, 1970 — an event that brought Saturday’s two programs together forever.
Marshall does not have time to dwell on the loss, according to Huff. The Herd travels to Appalachian State, who topped East Carolina in the opener, on Thursday.