Pirates Edge Tulsa In Opener, 51-49

UABSPORTS.COM Junior transfer Dominique Davis threw for five touchdowns and 383 yards in his East Carolina debut.
UABSPORTS.COM
Junior transfer Dominique Davis threw for five touchdowns and 383 yards in his East Carolina debut.
UABSPORTS.COM

Sept. 5, 2010

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GREENVILLE, N.C. - Dominique Davis threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Justin Jones as time expired to give East Carolina a 51-49 win against Tulsa Sunday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Head Coach Ruffin McNeill's debut.

"I am proud of the kids and the way they kept fighting," McNeill said. "We were able to win by two and get out of there. Any mistakes we made today, we will watch on film tomorrow. It is our task to fix those and get ready for Memphis in just six days."

Davis completed 27-of-46 passing attempts for a total of 383 yards with five touchdowns - two to Lance Lewis, two to Dwayne Harris - and accounted for one rushing score in his first start for ECU (1-0, 1-0 Conference USA). In the process, Harris passed Jarrett Dillard of Rice and Houston's Donnie Avery into 15th-place on the C-USA career all-purpose yards list.

He is the first Pirate player to account for four or more touchdowns since Brandon Simmons collected four against UTEP Nov. 28, 2008. Additionally, three of his four TD strikes were at least 30 yards.

On the other side, G.J. Kinne finished 28-of-43 for 399 yards. His fifth touchdown pass, a three-yard toss to Charles Clay with 1:22 left, appeared to be enough for the Golden Hurricane (0-1, 0-1). until Davis and Jones' heroics just minutes later.

The teams combined for 1,117 total yards and exchanged the lead 12 times during a back-and-forth affair. Harris caught seven passes for 121 yards, while Lewis finished with six grabs for 105 yards. Additionally, already owning the East Carolina career mark for receptions upon entering the contest, Harris became the school's all-time leader in receiving yards with 1,999 yards.

With Tulsa leading 49-45 and 1:22 showing on the clock, Davis guided the Pirates on a nine-play, 66-yard drive after which ECU was penalized for excessive celebration. However, Davis took a knee on the point-after try to account for the final margin.

"We knew the situation and the clock on the last drive of the game," McNeill stated. "The thought process was to score in any way possible. We felt like we had plenty of time with a timeout in our pocket."

East Carolina opened the scoring just 3:37 into the contest when Jonathan Williams broke off a 37-yard scamper to the end zone. He ended the day with a game-high 95 rushing yards.

After the Golden Hurricane tied the game with a one-yard run from Alex Singleton, Michael Barbour put the Pirates back on top with a 38-yard field goal. The teams traded touchdowns from there but a 22-yard field goal by Kevin Fitzpatrick cut a 17-13 ECU lead to one with 1:13 remaining before halftime.

The third quarter featured two Kinne touchdown passes as well as a Davis 43-yard toss to Lewis as the score stood at 29-24 in favor of the visitors after three quarters of play.

The Pirates began the scoring in the final frame when Davis called his own number and rushed two yards into the end zone, giving his team a two-point advantage.

With East Carolina trailing by four, 42-38, and under nine minutes to play, Davis found Joe Womack for a 26-yard reception which was followed by a 34-yard scoring toss to Harris - giving the Pirates the tentative lead. A Kinne three-yard pass to Clay put Tulsa in front one final time before ECU's successful last drive.

The Pirates return to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Saturday, Sept. 11 for a 12 noon matchup with league foe Memphis. The contest is slated for regional broadcast on Comcast Sports South and will be televised locally on WITN-TV.