Dec. 19, 2001 - Attendance: 40,139
MOBILE, Ala. - East Carolina's habit of playing close games came back to bite the Pirates at the 2001 GMAC Bowl, as Marshall battled back from a 30-point deficit to score a 64-61 victory in the second overtime.
It was the highest scoring bowl game in college football history.
Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich connected to Josh Davis on an 8-yard strike to seal the victory and send Marshall players pouring onto the field in celebration.
Both teams scored in the first overtime on running plays. After Franklin Wallace ran into the end zone for the Thundering Herd, ECU's Leonard Henry bolted 25 yards into the end zone on the Pirates' first play of overtime.
The Pirates had to settle for a 37-yard field goal in the second overtime before Marshall claimed the win on Davis' catch in the end zone. That catch capped off a wild comeback by the Thundering Herd.
East Carolina appeared to have a comfortable 38-8 lead at halftime. But the Thundering Herd galloped back into the game by scoring a pair of touchdowns in the first three minutes of the third quarter. On just the second play from scrimmage in the second half, Ralph Street picked off a pass by ECU quarterback David Garrard and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
After a four-and-out by the Pirates, Marshall's Leftwich threw a 48-yard pass to Darius Watts. Leftwich ran in from nine yards out on the next play to cut the lead to 38-21 with 12:23 left in the third. Kicker Kevin Miller tallied the Pirates' first points of the second half with a 32-yard field goal.
But ECU's next drive was cut short when Terence Tarpley picked off Garrard's swing pass intended for Richard Alston and waltzed 25 yards for a touchdown.
The Thundering Herd took advantage of another ECU turnover on the next drive when Alston bobbled a lateral from Garrard, and Larry Davis snatched the ball out of the air.
Seven plays later, Wallace cruised 15 yards up the middle to pull Marshall to within 41-36 with a minute left in the third quarter. The Pirates appeared to put the ball in the end zone on their next drive when Garrard fought his way into the end zone from nine yards out. But a holding penalty called the touchdown back, forcing the Pirates to settle for Miller's 32-yard field goal.
Leftwich responded with a 30-yard touchdown strike to Denero Marriott to cut the margin to 44-42, but the attempt for the two-point conversion failed. ECU's Leonard Henry appeared to seal the victory when he rambled 55 yards for a touchdown with five minutes left to play.
However, the Herd got a 27-yard field goal from Curtis Head before Leftwich found Watts in the corner of the end zone with seven seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 51-51.
Head had a chance to win the game at that point, but his extra point kick sailed wide left, forcing overtime.
ECU - Hunt 12 interception return (Miller kick), 14:03
ECU - Steward 43 fumble return (Miller kick), 11:39
ECU - Garrard 9 run (Miller kick), 6:48
ECU - FG Miller 25, 9:06
MU - Watts 35 pass from Leftwich (Buggs run), 6:35
ECU - Henry 7 run (Miller kick), 6:00
ECU - Garrard 6 run (Miler kick), 4:47
MU - Street 25 interception return (Head kick), 14:37
MU - Leftwich 9 run (Head kick), 12:23
ECU - FG Miller 22, 8:34
MU - Tarpley 25 interception return (Head kick), 5:21
MU - Wallace 15 run (Head kick), 1:00
ECU - FG Miller 32, 10:43
MU - Marriott 30 pass from Leftwich (pass failed), 6:15
ECU - Henry 55 run (Miller kick), 5:00
MU - FG Head 27
MU - Watts 11 pass from Leftwich (kick failed), 0:07
MU - Wallace 2 run (Head kick)
ECU - Henry 25 run (Miller kick)
ECU - FG Miller 37
MU - Davis 8 pass from Leftwich
Rushing: MU - Wallace 17-86, Watts 2-13, Carey 2-2, Leftwich 12-(-10), Team 1-(-18). ECU - Henry 29-195, Alston 6-91, Garrard 14-40, Fox 1-6, Copper 1-1, Team 2-(-2).
Passing: MU - Leftwich 41-70-2, 576. ECU - Garrard 11-23-2, 161.
Receiving: MU - Marriott 15-234, Davis 8-87, Watts 7-133, Jones 6-72, Carey 2-19, Wallace 2-18, Martin 1-13. ECU - Collier 4-75, Alston 2-44, Powell 2-22, Morris 2-11, Copper 1-9.