It was a banner Friday for the Thundering Herd as Marshall defeated East Carolina 59-28, earning a spot in next weeks Conference USA championship game during the process.
Marshall dominated all three phases of the game at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Running back Essray Taliaferro ran for 161 yards on 26 carries. With Friday's performance Taliaferro became the first Herd running back to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards in a season since 2009. On the goal line Marshall turned to H-back Devon Johnson who scored two rushing touchdowns. He also added a 52 yard reception for a score in the third quarter.
On defense freshman defensive end Gary Thompson recorded two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. ECU quarterback Shane Carden was held without a passing touchdown for the first time in over a year. Marshall also contained the leading receiver in C-USA, only allowing Pirates wideout Justin Hardy 88 receiving yards.
After battling inconsistency all season Marshall's special teams showed up in a big way against ECU. Kicker Justin Haig converted a season long 42 yard field goal to give the Herd an early 3-0 lead. DeAndre Reaves put Marshall in good field position all day, returning three kicks for an average of 30.3 yards.
Marshall will host next Saturday's C-USA championship game if Tulane beats Rice later today. Under that scenario UTSA would be the opponent if they defeat Louisiana Tech this afternoon. A UTSA loss and Tulane win would send the Green Wave to Huntington. If Rice wins, the championship host would be determined by the higher BCS ranking between the Owls and Marshall.
Huntington Herald Dispatch
Marshall clinches C-USA East
Holliday and staff had Herd prepared
Quick start in second half thwarts ECU
Chuck Landon grades the Herd
Grant Traylor awards game balls
Charleston Daily Mail
Marshall football: Herd beats ECU to clinch C-USA East Division Crown
Chuck McGill: Gatorade bath comes early, but Herd and Holliday can do it again next Saturday
Up next for Herd: C-USA title game
A different feel at the Joan
Marshall notebook: Smiles all around after Herd says 'Cheese'
BOGACZYK: East Champion Herd Plunders Pirates, Now Waits on West
BOGACZYK: Herd Defense a Real Hit in Run to Title Game
WV Metro News
Herd captures C-USA East Divison 59-28 over ECU
Career Day for Devon Johnson
Biggest game in a decade lives up to hype
ECU's title hopes trampled
ECU forced to play catch-up