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(Friday, November 29th)
Final Score: Marshall 59, East Carolina 28
Huntington, WV (SportsNetwork.com) - Rakeem Cato threw for two touchdowns and ran in two more as Marshall won the Conference USA East division with a 59-28 victory over East Carolina.
Cato went 17-for-28 for 272 yards with an interception, while Devon Johnson had two touchdowns rushing and one receiving for the Thundering Herd (9-3, 7-1 C-USA), who won their final five conference games of the season to punch their ticket to the championship game next Saturday.
Vintavious Cooper carried the ball 20 times for 93 yards and two touchdowns for the Pirates (9-3, 6-2), who had won five straight coming into the game. Shane Carden was 29-for-52 for 291 yards with three interceptions
Marshall scored the first 24 points of the game to take control, with the team's first possession resulting in a 42-yard field goal from Justin Haig just over 3 1/2 minutes in.
The Herd's next drive went 97 yards and was finished on a 2-yard scoring run from Johnson, and Carden's first interception later in the frame set up a 4- yard touchdown run from Cato for a 17-0 lead.
Gator Hoskins caught a 3-yard scoring pass from Cato with 9:33 to play in the second quarter to give the Herd a 24-0 lead, but the Pirates received a 2-yard scoring run from Cooper and a 27-yard field goal by Warren Harvey late in the half to make it a 14-point game at the break.
Johnson scored from two yards out on Marshall's opening drive of the second half, while Harvey countered with a 26-yard field goal on East Carolina's ensuing touch to cut the lead to 31-13.
Carden's second pick of the game was taken into the end zone by Gary Thompson from five yards out for a 38-13 lead, but the ECU quarterback took the ball in himself on a 7-yard score on East Carolina's next drive.
Cato and Johnson got together for a quick 52-yard score to make it a 45-20 game heading to the fourth quarter, and Steward Butler scored from 14 yards out early in the fourth to give Marshall a 32-point lead.
Cato's 12-yard scoring run followed Carden's third pick of the game. Cooper scored from two yards out with 1:32 remaining, with the Pirates successful on the 2-point conversion to account for the final score.
11/29 16:53:48 ET