GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Some couldn't put their disappointment into words.
"It's one of those emotions where you can feel it, but you really can't express it," Marshall defensive end Alex Bazzie said.
"This game is going to be with us for the rest of our lives," quarterback Rakeem Cato said. "We know we were seconds away from going to a bowl."
Yet a fourth-down conversion allowed here and a fumble there led to a 65-59 double-overtime loss to East Carolina on Friday and kept Marshall home for the college bowl season for the sixth time in eight seasons.
Despite one of the nation's most prolific offenses, the Thundering Herd (5-7, 4-4) finished with its sixth losing season in the last eight and the second in Coach Doc Holliday's three seasons at the helm. As they have for most of the season, mistakes and poor defense did in the Herd.
"To find a way to fight back into it and lose the way we did, I just feel bad for the kids," Holliday said.
At one point, it looked like Marshall's offense could overcome the team's other problems, even with Cato sidelined in the second half with an injured knee and ankle.
The Herd came back from a 28-7 second-quarter hole to take its first lead with 11:12 left in regulation. Backup quarterback Blake Frohnapfel ran 51 yards for a touchdown to put Marshall ahead 45-42. And when ECU (8-4, 7-1) tied the game on a 39-yard Warren Harvey field goal, Frohnapfel led another touchdown drive ending Essray Taliaferro's one-yard scoring run to go up 52-45.
The Pirates still had a chance to tie with less than two minutes left in regulation, though, and Marshall's defense couldn't stop them.
The unit almost got it done, forcing ECU into fourth-and-10 at its own 24. But Pirates quarterback Shane Carden hit receiver Justin Hardy for a 19-yard gain to sustain the drive. Nine plays later, Carden found Danny Webster in the back of the end zone for a six-yard score.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime. Marshall took the ball first in the second overtime, and Taliaferro, who gained 130 yards on 27 carries Friday, fumbled on the second play. ECU took over and won Carden's one-yard run.
"I told Tally after he fumbled, we ain't supposed to be in this predicament anyway," Cato said. "We ain't supposed to be in overtime. The game's supposed to be over and we supposed to be on our way back to Huntington."