Pirates avoid trap against Marshall|Williams rushes for 111 yards for East Carolina

Published 12:49 am Sunday, October 24, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Brian@wdnweb.com, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — After topping N.C. State 33-27 in overtime last week, East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill spent the last six days stressing the dangers of having a let-down game against a struggling Marshall squad on Saturday.
It’s nice to know the team is listening.
The Pirates responded with a 37-10 win over the Thundering Herd in front of a reported homecoming crowd of 50,145 fans that watched East Carolina rip off 27 unanswered points to improve to their Conference USA record to a perfect 4-0 and its overall record to 6-2.
The win over Marshall (1-6, 0-3) amplifies next Saturday’s game against C-USA East rival Central Florida, who improved its conference record to 3-0 with a 41-14 win over Rice.
“We had every reason to have an emotional hangover with the win last Saturday,” McNeill said. “I mentioned this on Monday’s press conference when I said that if I was not worried about it I was telling a lie. I was (worried). … This team grew, and is in the process of growing, and to be able to come back after an emotional win and play a team that had two weeks to prepare for you (is good).”
One person who was more than prepared to play on Saturday was running back Jonathan Williams who recorded 111 yards and one touchdown on only 10 carries. It was the third 100-yard rushing game of the senior’s career and the first against a team not named Memphis.
Williams and fellow running back Giavani Ruffin (7-32) helped the Pirates out-rush the Herd 194-94 on Saturday.
“We’re starting to play together as a team, it’s all coming together for us,” Williams said. “I’m out there excited, and the O-Line did an excellent job out there blocking.”
The offensive line did a nice job in pass protection as well as it held Marshall sack machine Vinny Curry to only a half of a sack, and Marshall as a whole to only one. Curry, a junior defensive end, entered the game having registered and FBS third-best eight sacks.
McNeill said he did not order any special blocking assignments to counter Curry, but that the unit just did a good job to keep him in check.
The Pirates got on the board on their second possession of the game when a short punt gave them the ball at the Marshall 37. Shortly after quarterback Dominique Davis hit Lance Lewis for a five-yard TD pass and a 7-0 lead.
The score was Lewis’ seventh of the year, tying him with Williams for the team-high.
Marshall responded with a scoring drive of its own as a key pass interference penalty on ECU extended the Herd’s drive. Marshall could not completely finish off the drive and had to settle for a Tyler Warner 22-yard field goal to cut the Pirates’ lead to 7-3 in the first quarter.
The Pirates countered with a field goal of its own in the second. After Davis (23-39, 208, 2 TDs) was intercepted on an attempt to throw the ball out of bounds, the Pirates defense returned the favor as safety Bradley Jacobs picked off Herd quarterback Brian Anderson and set up a Michael Barbour 39-yard field goal. Barbour had a good afternoon as he was 3-for-3 on the day, hitting from 39, 40 and 26 yards respectively.
The Herd made a play to spoil the Pirates homecoming early as Anderson got hot and hit on seven straight passes to lead his team on its only TD drive of the game midway through the second quarter. Anderson’s accuracy, coupled with another costly pass interference call, led to the team’s only touchdown of the day when Anderson (27-47, 217) hit Troy Evans for a 9-yard scoring pass to tie the game at 10 with 8:56 to go in the first half.
From that point on the East Carolina defense slammed the door shot on Marshall as it help the Herd scoreless for the rest of the game. It would be the second week in a row that the unit has kept a team out of the end zone in the second half.
Melvin Patterson paced the unit with 13 tackles, while Dustin Lineback tallied 12. ECU intercepted Anderson three times as DT Michael Brooks and Emanuel Davis also record interceptions.
While the Pirates’ passing attack wasn’t as explosive as in some of its early games this year, it didn’t need to be as the team was able to get results with its run game.
Dominique Davis ripped off a 29-yard TD in the second half, and also hit freshman Mike Price for a 10-yard scoring pass, the first of his career.