11/09/08 — Heroic Hartman

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Heroic Hartman

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 9, 2008 9:28 AM

GREENVILLE -- Kicker Ben Hartman was once again a hero as East Carolina topped Marshall 19-16 in overtime at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday.

For the second consecutive week, the junior from Winston-Salem came through at the crucial moment and jump-started the Pirate celebration.

After Marshall went three and out on their overtime possession, freshman place kicker Tyler Warner booted the Herd's go-ahead attempt wide right.

East Carolina immediately took advantage.

A three-play drive moved the ball to the 10-yard line.

Hartman's game-winning, 27-yard, kick sailed through the uprights and pushed the Pirates (6-3, 4-1 CUSA) into first place in the CUSA East division standings. A similar field goal off of Hartman's foot clinched a victory at Central Florida last Sunday night.

"It's a big win... for the players, the fans and the program," ECU head coach Skip Holtz said. "I thought our defense, with the exception of two big plays, played about as well as they have all season."

Quarterback Patrick Pinkney led East Carolina to a 13-3 halftime advantage.

The senior connected with Devon Drew for a 5-yard touchdown with just seconds remaining before the intermission.

"I thought Patrick played a great game," Holtz said. "He threw a few balls that were exactly where they needed to be.

"Last week we ran the ball well and had trouble throwing. This week (Marshall) did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage, but we were able to pass more effectively."

In the third quarter, Marshall (4-5, 3-2) came to life behind the soft hands of tight end Cody Slate.

The vaunted receiver hauled in a 7-yard touchdown reception on the opening drive of the period and renewed the Herd's hopes for an upset.

Starting kicker Craig Ratanamorn missed the extra point. The second key miss in what was a woeful night for the Herd's kicking tandem.

With one 1:34 left in regulation East Carolina's Matt Dodge hit his shortest punt of the game and gave the Herd the ball at the Pirates' 41-yard line.

Mark Cann promptly found Slate for the game-tying touchdown with 1:21 remaining in the fourth quarter.

"It should have never got to that point," said Holtz. "We had a lot of trouble on third-and-short, and to their credit they used it to their advantage."

Pinkney finished the night with 287 yards through the air. Norman Whitley led the Pirate rushing attack with 72 yards on 23 carries.

The win means that East Carolina now controls its own destiny in the race for the Conference USA championship. The Pirates also became bowl eligible with the victory.