HUNTINGTON, W. Va. (AP) - Rakeem Cato threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more on Friday as Marshall took an early undisputed lead and defeated East Carolina 59-28 in the East Division Championship of the Conference USA.
Marshall (9-3, 7-1) was up 24-0 after Cato threw a 3-yard TD pass to Gator Hoskins with 9:33 left to play in the second quarter. The Pirates scored before halftime on back-to-back turnovers by Marshall, with a Vintavious Cooper 2-yard TD run and a field goal by Warren Harvey. East Carolina (9-3, 6-2) was never able to get closer than a 14-point margin for the rest of the game.
Essray Taliaferro led the Thundering Herd with a game-high 161 yards rushing on 26 carries and surpassed 1,000 yards for the season.
East Carolina's Shane Carden threw three interceptions after throwing just seven for the season before the matchup. Carden finished with 291 yards passing.
In the last regular game of the season, Marshall stampeded over ECU, grabbing the C-USA east title.
The Thundering Herd led from almost the beginning, scoring a field goal early on in the first quarter.
ECU struggled to keep up with Marshall, with the final score 59-28.
Marshall now heads to the C-USA Championship, while ECU continues in post-season play too, with an as-of-yet announced bowl game.
ECU finishes its regular season with 9 wins and 3 loses.
The last regular game of the season it's a winner-takes-all match-up between the ECU Pirates and Marshall's Thundering Herd.
At stake is the east title for Conference USA, and a berth into next week's C-USA Championship.
The game, which started at noon in Huntington, West Virginia, has the Pirates trying to push its winning streak to six straight for the first time since 1995.
ECU leads the series with Marshall, with 10 wins and 4 losses. The Pirates have won the last six of eight match-ups with the Thundering Herd, and have been more successful on home turf, while splitting games played in Huntington.
WITN's Chris Obarski is in Huntington with the Pirates and you can see his reports tonight on WITN News.
The game is being televised on CBS College Sports.