GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY -

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.