Nov. 23, 2011
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina will officially complete its 2011 regular season schedule when it visits Marshall for a Conference USA clash at Joan C. Edwards Stadium Saturday beginning at 3:30 p.m. (EST). Bowl eligibility remains at stake for the Pirates and Thundering Herd as both programs are one victory away from post-season qualification heading into the last weekend of play.
ECU, which guaranteed its sixth-straight winning ledger in intra-divisional competition with a 38-31 win over UCF last Saturday, needs a triumph over Marshall to earn a bowl invitation for a school-record sixth consecutive year and avoid posting its first losing regular season slate since the 2005 campaign.
The Pirates Against The Thundering Herd
East Carolina leads 9-3 ... The Pirates have taken five of the last six and seven of the last nine matchups ... The Thundering Herd owns the only neutral site victory after posting a thrilling 64-61 overtime win at the 2001 GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala. ... ECU owns a 3-2 edge when playing in Huntington and has taken all six contests in Greenville.
The Last Meeting
Oct. 23, 2010
East Carolina Defeats Marshall, 37-10
Senior Jonathan Williams
ran for a career-high 111 yards and a touchdown while the overhauled defense turned in its best performance so far to help East Carolina beat Marshall 37-10, keeping the Pirates perfect in league play. The 10 points were the fewest surrendered by ECU this season and the fewest for opponent since UCF's 10 on Nov. 2, 2008.
The Last Meeting
East Carolina 37, Marshall 10 | Oct. 23, 2010 @Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, N.C.
East Carolina used a season-high 194-yard ground attack and a dominating second-half defensive performance to post a 37-10 Conference USA triumph against Marshall ... Jonathan Williams rushed for a career-best 111 yards on just 10 carries, an average of 11.1 yards per attempt, to spearhead the Pirates' offensive efforts ... Williams also added a 29-yard scoring run late in the second quarter that broke a 10-10 deadlock and sparked a run of 27 unanswered points ... Quarterback Dominique Davis, who completed 23-of-39 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns, also reached paydirt on a 26-yard scamper to cap ECU's initial second-half drive ... In all, the Pirates scored on their first three possessions in the third quarter while limiting the Thundering Herd to just 142 total yards (69 rush, 73 pass) in the final 30 minutes, helping produce ECU's first second-half shutout in two years ... After East Carolina opened the game's scoring with Lance Lewis' five-yard TD reception in the first period, both teams exchanged field goals before the Herd's Brian Anderson threw a nine-yard scoring pass to Troy Evans to tie the contest at 10 midway through the second quarter ... Williams then helped the Pirates cash in the second of three Anderson interceptions by finishing a seven-play, 54-yard drive with his scoring run ... Michael Barbour, who booted a season-high three field goals during the contest, tacked on a 40-yarder two seconds before halftime for a 20-10 lead.
The Last Meeting In Huntington
Oct. 3, 2009
Huntington, W. Va.
ECU Tops Marshall, 21-17
scored on a 30-yard run and East Carolina's defense forced two turnovers in the fourth quarter to beat Marshall 21-17 on Saturday. Pinkney was 14-for-23 with 131 yards and an interception for the Pirates (3-2, 2-0 Conference USA).
The Last Meeting In Huntington
East Carolina 21, Marshall 17 | Oct. 3, 2009 @Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, W. Va.
Quarterback Patrick Pinkney's 30-yard scoring scamper, which was snapped on an untimed down to close the third quarter, served as the game-winner to lift East Carolina to a physical 21-17 Conference USA road victory over Marshall ... Pinkney's wide-open dash into the end zone that erased a brief 17-14 Herd lead followed an illegal blocking penalty on a first-and-10 call from the Marshall 15-yard line that exhausted the clock ... From there, the Pirate defense took over with a pair of interceptions and an inspired run-stopping effort that held the Herd to a combined 22 ground yards on three possessions in the final 15 minutes ... After cornerback Emanuel Davis ended Marshall's first fourth-quarter drive with an interception, the Pirates stopped the Herd on a critical fourth-and-one play at the ECU 45-yard line with 2:20 remaining ... On their last possession, which started with 1:39 to play, the Herd quickly marched from their own seven to the 32-yard line before Pirate linebacker Jeremy Chambliss stepped in front of a Brian Anderson pass to snuff out the comeback bid ... ECU cashed in a pair of long first-half drives to take a 14-7 intermission lead ... Brandon Jackson's one-yard TD plunge capped an 11-play, 80-yard march on the Pirates' first possession of the contest, while Dominique Lindsay ended a 10-play, 68-yard drive with a three-yard scoring run to close the second quarter ... ECU's Nick Johnson tallied a career-high 16 stops.
Ruffin McNeill Vs. Marshall
Ruffin McNeill has faced Marshall as a coach eight times prior to Saturday's game, all but one (last year's matchup) occurring during McNeill's tenure at Appalachian State when the Mountaineers and Thundering Herd were fierce Southern Conference rivals. McNeill's ASU squads beat Marshall in four of the seven meetings.
While in his playing days, McNeill faced the Thundering Herd as a junior safety for Pat Dye. McNeill tallied five tackles in East Carolina's 45-0 triumph over Marshall on Nov. 18, 1978, in the first meeting between the two schools since the tragic plane crash in 1970.
Doc Holliday Against The Pirates
Doc Holliday has seen East Carolina on the opposite sideline a total of 12 (8-4) times during his career, 11 as an assistant coach (10 while on the West Virginia staff) ... The Mountaineers were 7-3 against the Pirates during Holliday's two tenures in Morgantown (ECU wins in 1995, 1999 and 2008) ... He also racked up a 52-14 victory in 2004 while on Chuck Amato's staff at N.C. State.
McNeill Against Holliday
East Carolina's Ruffin McNeill and Marshall's Doc Holliday have "faced" each other on four other occasions before Saturday's meeting ... Prior to their first meeting as head coaches last year, the two men were across the field from each other in 2003 as members of the Texas Tech and N.C. State staffs, respectively, when the Red Raiders and Wolfpack closed out a high-scoring two-game series:
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On The Road Again - 2-3 In 2011
Since joining C-USA in 1997, East Carolina is 41-57 (.418) when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... After opening 2011 with a neutral site loss to South Carolina, ECU has split its last four road contests (wins at Memphis and Navy, losses at Houston and UTEP) ... Prior to a 2-5 mark in 2010 (losses at Virginia Tech, North Carolina, UCF and Rice, victories at USM and UAB, and a neutral site setback to Maryland in the Military Bowl), the Pirates were 3-4 in 2009 and 5-4 in 2008.
C-USA: .500 Or Better For Seven Straight
With their victory over UCF, the Pirates moved to 4-3 in Conference USA play - guaranteeing ECU its seventh-straight non-losing league slate ... In comparison, however, the Pirates have been 5-2 through seven C-USA contests in four of the last five seasons (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010).
Thanks Pirate Nation ... Another Record-Breaker
East Carolina has always been able to claim plenty of hometown support, even more so when playing at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturdays during the fall - establishing itself as C-USA's attendance leader on an annual basis ... In all, a total of 6,869,342 fans have seen the Pirates in action since 1963, and in the last four years, ECU has averaged 46,403 (1,067,279/23 regular season games) ... Since the completion of a 7,000-seat expansion project in 2010 that pushed the capacity to 50,000, the Pirates have set back-to-back school records in total attendance and season average attendance, breaking last year's marks (297,987/49,665) with 300,069 and 50,012 figures in 2011 ... ECU completed the '11 home campaign with crowds of 49,404 (Virginia Tech), 50,023 (UAB), a facility-record 50,610 (North Carolina), 49,410 (Tulane), 50,345 (Southern Miss) and 50,277 (UCF) after establishing a new program standard for season ticket sales with 24,182.
Turning Up The Heat
The Pirates recorded a season-high tying four sacks against UCF, bringing their season total to 19 (after only posting 14 a year ago) ... ECU also set a year best with eight tackles for lost yardage vs. the Knights, pushing its two-week total to 14 (after having just 11 in the previous three contests) ... The added pressure has limited East Carolina's last five C-USA opponents to only 308.0 yards of total offense per contest.
Band On The Run
While East Carolina's passing game garnered the headlines last season and early during the 2011 campaign, the Pirates have benefitted from a deliberate and effective rushing attack the last six games ... ECU has surpassed the 100-yard plateau in each contest - averaging 138.7 yards per outing - after only totaling 345 rushing yards in the season's first five matchups (69.0 ypg) ... East Carolina has also tallied 12 rushing TDs the last six weeks after netting just three in the first five games ... The Pirates racked up a season-high 186 rushing yards against UCF, the second-highest total under McNeill.
Big Plays All Around
Sophomore running back Torrance Hunt's 56-yard touchdown run against UCF marked the longest rush of the McNeill era (24 games), and the longest by a Pirate since 2008 (68-yarder by Norman Whitley vs. Tulsa) ... In addition, sophomore outside receiver Reese Wiggins hauled in a career-long 84-yard TD reception against the Knights - the fourth-longest pass play in ECU history (and longest since 1995) ... Wiggins, who set personal bests with two touchdown catches and 123 yards receiving versus UCF, now owns the East Carolina's two longest plays of the season after a 72-yard scoring grab against Southern Miss on Nov. 5 ... The last Pirate to record multiple plays of 70 yards or longer in a season was Chris Johnson in 2007 (70-yard rush vs. Memphis, 78 and 72-yard receptions vs. North Carolina and UCF, respectively).
Going For It
ECU is currently fourth nationally in fourth down conversion percentage with a clip of 80.0 (12-of-15) ... The Pirates are seven-of-eight in their last five games ... A closer look at the FBS leaders:
ECU converted 21-of-28 fourth down opportunities in 2010 to stand sixth nationally with a percentage of 75.0.
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Wins, Losses And Accomplishments
East Carolina's six losses have come against teams with a combined current record of 50-16 ... Three of the six setbacks have to come to teams currently in the Top 15 (South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Houston) which own a combined mark of 30-3 .... On the other hand, the Pirates' five victories are against programs with a 15-41 record in 2011 ... With its victory over UCF, ECU joined Southern Miss and Houston as the only league programs to win four or more conference games every season (since start of division format in '05) ... With a win at Marshall, the Pirates will be the only C-USA program to capture five or more conference triumphs every year since 2006.