With the loss, the Herd (4-6, 3-3 C-USA) snapped a three-game winning streak - the longest under second-year head coach Mark Snyder. Marshall remains winless at East Carolina (6-4, 5-2 C-USA), falling to 0-4. Ahmad Bradshaw was held to a season-low 26 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns. It snapped Bradshaw's streak of three consecutive 100-yard rushing games. Bradshaw's 13 touchdowns rushing this season is the sixth-highest single-season total in school history. It also marked the fifth time this season Bradshaw had rushed for at least two touchdowns this season.
Jimmy Skinner made his first start of the season under center for the Thundering Herd in 2006, as Bernard Morris could not go on a injured ankle. Skinner finished 24-of-45 passing for a Marshall season-high 285 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Freshman tight end Cody Slate continued his stellar freshman season against the Pirates. Slate caught a career-high nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. It was Slate's second 100-yard receiving game of the season and he remains the only Herd receiver this season to break the century mark. Senior receiver Hiram Moore added four receptions for 59 yards, while sophomore Emmanuel Spann chipped in six catches for 32 yards.
Defensively, sophomre defensive end Albert McClellan led all tackles with nine tackles in addition to his 5.5 tackles for loss. He also forced two fumbles along with 1.5 sacks. Senior safety Curtis Keyes added nine tackles, while linebackers Josh Johnson, a sophomore, and senior Matt Couch contributed eight tackles each.
East Carolina quarterack James Pinkney completed 21-of-27 passing for 270 yards with a touchdown. Senior wideout Aundrae Allison added a 34-yard touchdown pass, as well. Running back Brandon Fractious led all rushers with 16 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown. Phillip Henry led the Pirates with five catches for 96 yards and a touchdown, while Allison added six receptions for 46 yards.
On the game's opening series, Marshall started fast with a 32 yard kickoff return from sophomore Chubb Small. The Herd drove 41 yards on nine plays down to the East Carolina 24-yard line. However, the impressive drive ended when Anthony Binswanger misfired on a 41-yard field goal attempt. It was Binswanger's third straight missed field goal attempt and the fifth miss in his last six attempts. Marshall's defense forced a quick three-and-out on East Carolina's first possession. Unlike its opening drive, the Herd was unable to produce a lengthy drive. On fourth down, Marshall committed another costly special teams miscue as Zach Slate blocked Marshall's punt attempt. Slate recovered it at the Marshall one-yard line. ECU capitalized on Fractious' one-yard touchdown run, which gave the Pirates a 7-0 lead with 7:31 remaining in the first quarter. It was the first time an opponent had blocked a Herd punt since Sept. 16 at Kansas State. ECU's first quarter score also extended its school-record streak to 110 straight games in which had not been shutout.
Marshall's first quarter woes continued on its third possession. Bradshaw committed the first of his two fumbles in the opening period on the third play of the drive. Six plays later, the Herd defense forced a turnover of its own, as McClellan stripped the ball from Pinkney. senior tackle Juan Underwood, who missed two weeks with injuries, recovered the fumble at the Marshall 24-yard line. Bradshaw's second fumble came on the ensuing play of the Herd's third drive. The costly turnover set up East Carolina on the Herd's 23-yard line. The five-play drive led to a Robert Lee 21-yard field goal and a 10-0 ECU lead.
East Carolina extended its lead to 13-0 in the second quarter on Lee's 22-yard field goal, as the defense held the Pirates to a second field goal in the red zone. The Herd's defense forced a second turnover on ECU's next possession. McClellan pressured Pinkney, forcing his second fumble of the day. Underwood recovered his second fumble which set up the Herd's first score.
This time, the Herd wouldn't squander the opportunity as Bradshaw redeemed himself with a five-yard touchdown run on the first play. Bradshaw's 12th touchdown run of the season cut the ECU lead to 13-7 with 4:04 remaining in the first half. ECU extended its lead back to 13 points, 20-7, before the end of the first half. Pinkney connected on a 29-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Henry, capping a seven-play, 79-yard drive.
In the third quarter, Lee's 38-yard field goal extended East Carolina's lead to 23-7. Marshall responded with a 41-yard touchdown pass from Skinner to Slate, cutting the ECU lead to 23-14 with 1:09 remaining in the third period. However, the Pirates put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter. Allison threw a 34-yard touchdown pass on a triple-reverse to Steven Rogers, giving ECU a 30-14 lead at the 11:40 mark.
The Pirates later added a 42-yard field goal from Lee to give East Carolina its largest lead of the game, 33-14. It was Lee's first four field goal performance of his career. Marshall added a score late on Bradshaw's two-yard touchdown run with 1:23 remaining in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 33-20.
The Marshall Thundering Herd returns to Huntington for its final home game of the 2006 season when it hosts UTEP on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 4:30 p.m. (EST). Prior to the game, the Herd will recognize its 21 seniors during Senior Day festivities. Also that day, the 31st Street Bridge in Huntington will be renamed in honor of Frank Gatski, Marshall's only member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "Gunner," the only Marshall player to have his jersey retired, was a center and linebacker for Marshall in 1941-42, then won eight titles in 12 championship games in 13 years as a professional with the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions. There will be a brief ceremony on the field during the UTEP-Marshall game.