GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — East Carolina’s home-opening football game Saturday with Marshall didn’t go as many had hoped.
The Pirates dropped a 31-13 decision to the Thundering Herd, who scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to get the win and improve to 2-0. The Pirates are now 0-2 with a tough road trip at Appalachian State, which dropped a 40-34 two-overtime game at the University of North Carolina, this Saturday.
It didn’t start the ideal way for the Pirates and it ended even worse. It started out with the Pirates down 10-0 as Marshall scored on back-to-back drives. That seemed to suck the momentum out of East Carolina, but it turned around really quickly.
The Pirates were able to get on the board with a field goal. The next drive resulted in recovering a Marshall fumble and scoring a touchdown, as Shane Calhoun caught a 2-yard pass from quarterback Mason Garcia.
Then the long rain delay came, which lasted nearly 2 hours.
After the weather delay, the game started its downhill path for the Pirates. Here are some good and bad things to take away from that game:
Conrad made a few appearances last season for the Pirates. He made 8 of 12 field goal attempts and his 26 PATs were all successful. Conrad had the Pirates’ only points against Michigan, kicking a field goal near the end of the game to extend the school’s streak of not being shut out to 313 games.
Against the Thundering Herd, he made two of three field goals, the missed field goal being 45 yards. It seems that Conrad will have a bright future on this ECU roster.
A lot of fans came into the game thinking Alex Flinn might take over the starting quarterback role. There seemed to be some surprise when the starting lineup flashed across the scoreboard at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and Garcia was up there.
Garcia did not have a good game passing-wise, but he ran for 118 yards on 16 carries, the most on the team in Saturday’s game. Most of those yards came on one play, where he took a keeper and scampered 57 yards. That led to Conrad’s first field goal that cut the deficit to 10-3.
In his postgame interview, head coach Mike Houston said he believed Garcia gave the Pirates the best chance to win.
Hatfield racked up 556 all-purpose yards in the 2022 season and logged 299 snaps, 62 on special teams. When he is put in the backfield for a return, it is rare that he is going to signal a fair catch or take a knee. Hatfield had 57 yards, averaging 14 yards a carry and 39 as his longest, which led the team Saturday.
The fourth quarter
The fourth quarter was pretty painful to watch for Pirate fans. Coming into the fourth quarter, they led 13-10, and it kind of seemed that’s how the game would end with maybe East Carolina scoring once more.
This was not the case.
The Thundering Herd outscored the Pirates 21-0 with touchdowns on three straight possessions, one being after an interception by Garcia. After the game, Houston said the team made too many mistakes in the fourth quarter.
Marshall quarterback Cam Fancher finished 15-of-27 with 178 yards.
Mason Garcia … in another light
While he ran for 118 yards, he threw for only 62 yards. At the half, he had only thrown for six yards.
Some fans have theories of starting Flinn for the passing game and when a big opportunity comes for the run game, put Garcia in when possible. But so far, the yards when it comes to Mason’s arm don’t look promising.
What’s next for the Pirates?
East Carolina will head to Boone to face Appalachian State. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.