Pirates Stifle Green Wave On Homecoming, 34-13
Oct. 29, 2011
GREENVILLE, N.C. -A stout defensive performance in the second half Saturday allowed East Carolina to post a 34-13 Homecoming victory over Tulane at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
With their third-straight win, the Pirates even their record at 4-4 and move into sole possession of first place in the league's East Division with a 3-1 C-USA ledger. ECU also improved to 46-10 in Homecoming contests, having captured its last six decisions.
"I'm very proud of this group," head coach Ruffin McNeill said. "We have to worry about ourselves and keep working hard. We have to stay humble. Having success aids in building confidence, but we need to keep improving."
After setting a NCAA record last week for consecutive completions in a game and season, senior quarterback Dominique Davis finished the game with 29 completions on 46 attempts for 329 yards while accounting for three touchdowns (two rushing). It marked the third-straight contest in which he has thrown for over 300 yards.
Senior outside receiver Lance Lewis recorded the game-winning score in the second quarter, giving him an East Carolina-record 22 career touchdown. He surpassed Larry Shannon's 21 which the former letterwinner accrued from 1994-97.
Defensively, sophomore inside linebacker Kyle Tudor led ECU with 11 tackles (seven assists). He also forced his first career fumble in the fourth quarter with freshman outside linebacker Jake Geary scooping up the loose ball for his first career fumble recovery.
The Pirates edged the Green Wave in time of possession by a count of 30:26-29:34 and made the most of their time with the ball, outgaining Tulane 461-266 in total offense. ECU also overcame a pair of turnovers while forcing two miscues by the visitors. Both teams struggled on third down, combining for a nine-for-29 (31 percent) conversion rate.
After the squads failed to convert on their first possessions, the Pirates took over at their own 31-yard line and drove the ball 69 yards in nine plays - taking a 7-0 lead at the 4:08 mark when Davis scored on a five-yard scamper.
The Green Wave responded quickly, taking advantage of a Mike Price fumble which gave Tulane the ball at East Carolina's five-yard line. Three plays later, Cairo Santos converted a 20-yard field goal attempt, cutting the Pirate lead to 7-3 and capping the first-quarter scoring.
A special teams' miscue by punter Ben Ryan allowed Tulane to enjoy good field position at the ECU 47, and the Green Wave capitalized. Using a 40-yard reception by Brent Comardelle, Orleans Darkwa did the rest by running seven yards into the endzone to give his team its first advantage of the day at 10-7.
It did not take long for the Pirates to regain the lead, this time for good, as East Carolina put together an efficient six-play, 75-yard drive which was capped off by a Davis crossing pass to Lewis who found pay dirt from a yard away. The ECU lead would stay at four at halftime as Michael Barbour and Santos traded field goals before the clock ran out.
Barbour added to the Pirate advantage with 6:22 remaining in the third quarter when his kick was true from 20 yards out. Then, 22-yard catches by Danny Webster and Michael Bowman set East Carolina up at the Tulane 18-yard line as the third period wound down. Torrance Hunt and Davis took care of the remaining yardage as Davis plunged into the endzone with 1:04 remaining in the third to make it 27-13.
ECU would close the scoring late in the fourth quarter as Michael Dobson finished off a five-play, 56-yard possession with a one-yard touchdown run.
"I didn't think we tackled very well in the first half," McNeill stated. "We did a much better job in the second half of tackling and making plays on third down. I was proud of that group."
During the second half, the Pirate defense limited Tulane to just 88 total yards in the second-half blanking. It was the first time an opponent was shutout after intermission since Marshall on Oct. 23, 2010.
East Carolina remains at home next weekend, hosting Southern Miss in an East Division contest at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. with CSS providing the live broadcast to a regional audience.