East Carolina Plays Final Non-Conference Game

UABSPORTS.COM Senior Derrick Harris
Senior Derrick Harris

Oct. 25, 2012

East Carolina Game 9: Navy
Date Saturday, October 27
Time 3:30 p.m. (ET)
Location Greenville, N.C. (Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium)
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GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina closes out its 2012 non-conference schedule when it welcomes Navy to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. nationally-televised matchup. The Pirates will try to maintain momentum after a 42-35 victory at UAB last week and extend their home winning streak to five straight when they meet the Midshipmen. ECU, which is 5-3 at the eight-game mark for the fourth time in the last five seasons, will also attempt to reach bowl-eligible status for the sixth time since 2006 when it opens the final portion of a slate that features home tilts in three of the last four contests.

East Carolina Records and Streaks

  • Eleven bowl appearances since 1990; seven since 2000 (five of the last six years) ...
  • Has won six-straight games (and 34 of 39) when scoring 30 or more points ...
  • Has lost 14-straight games when scoring 20 or more less points ...
  • Has won 12 of 13 games when forcing three or more turnovers ...
  • Has won 19 of the last 20 games when converting third downs at 50% or higher ...
  • Has split its last four and (and lost six of the last eight) non-conference games ...
  • Has lost three of its last four (and lost four of six) home non-conference games ...
  • Has allowed only one offensive touchdown in each home game this season ...
  • Has surrendered only 12.7 points per game at home this season ...
  • Has lost 12-straight games when surrendering 200 or more rushing yards ...

The Last Meeting
East Carolina38
October 22, 2011
Annapolis, Md.
Pirates Claim Road Thriller Over Navy, 38-35
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Junior running back Reggie Bullock scored on a three-yard touchdown run with 2:14 remaining in the game to the go-ahead touchdown as East Carolina knocked off Navy 38-35 in the Pirates' final non-conference tilt of 2011.

Non-Conference Foes
Since accepting membership in Conference USA, the Pirates have produced a 22-42 (.344) regular season non-league record, which includes a program-high 5-0 mark in 1999 ... In the last three-plus years, ECU has recorded a 4-11 non-conference slate.

The Pirates Against the Midshipmen
Navy leads the series over ECU by a 2-1 count ... The Midshipmen averaged a combined 52 points, 462 rushing yards and 502.5 total yards in 28-23 and 76-35 victories to open the series in 2006 and 2010, respectively, before ECU used Dominique Davis' 40-of-45 passing effort to post its first win last October ... Navy's 521-yard ground effort in 2010 is still the second-highest ever recorded vs. the Pirates.

Ruffin McNeill Against Navy
While Saturday's matchup will represent Ruffin McNeill's third meeting versus Navy as a head coach, there was one (1-0) other occasion where he faced off against the Midshipmen ... While serving as Texas Tech's defensive tackles coach and special teams coordinator, McNeill's Red Raiders posted a 38-14 win over Navy at the 2003 EV1.net Houston Bowl at Reliant Stadium

Ken Niumatalolo Against the Pirates
Ken Niumatalolo will face East Carolina as a head coach for the third time Saturday ... He was on the Navy staff as an assistant head coach during the series opener, but did not square off against the Pirates during his earlier tenures at Hawai'i or UNLV.

Last Meeting In Greenville - Navy 76 - East Carolina 35
Navy's triple-option ground attack amassed 521 yards and eight touchdowns, while four third quarter East Carolina fumbles helped the Midshipmen turn a seven-point halftime lead into a convincing 76-35 win over the Pirates on Nov. 6, 2010 ... Navy scored on all eight of its possessions after intermission, cashing the quartet of ECU miscues into 24 points ... After the Pirates evened the contest, 21-21, late in the second quarter on Lance Lewis' four-yard reception, the Midshipmen scored 24 unanswered points to take a commanding 45-21 lead midway through the third period ... The loss spoiled a record-setting performance by ECU quarterback Dominique Davis, who completed 43-of-65 passes for 413 yards and five scores ... Navy's rushing and point totals were the most ever tallied against the Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, while the loss was the first at home for Ruffin McNeill.

ECU-Navy .... It's A Wrap
Saturday's matchup against Navy will conclude the four-game series, which as previously mentioned, was initiated in 2006 ... Since then, different head coaches now lead both programs (Ken Niumatalolo replaced Paul Johnson at Navy; Ruffin McNeill replaced Skip Holtz at East Carolina), the Midshipmen (5) and Pirates (5) have advanced to a combined 10 bowl games, Navy captured four Commander-In-Chief's Trophies and ECU earned a pair of Conference USA championships.

Pirates Against the Armed Forces
The Pirates' eight wins against Army (8-0 series record) and the three contests versus Navy represent the only meetings East Carolina has had against the nation's military academies who annually compete for the C-I-C Trophy ... ECU has never faced Air Force since beginning its football program in 1932 ... In addition, the Pirates are 19-5 all-time against the I-AA military schools, posting a 12-4 mark against The Citadel and a 7-1 clip vs. VMI.

ECU Against the Independent Ranks
In similar fashion, the Pirates' 8-0 record against Army and its 1-2 slate versus Navy mark ECU's only action against I-A independents.

Non-League Statistical Comparisons
In its three non-conference contests this year, ECU has averaged 17.0 points, 109.0 rushing yards, 233.0 passing yards and 342.0 total yards per game so far ... By comparison, the Pirates have booked 31.0 ppg, 122.6 rypg, 284.2 pypg and 406.8 ypg averages in their five C-USA tilts.

Last Time Out - East Carolina 42 - UAB 35
East Carolina racked up a Ruffin McNeil era-best 600 yards and scored on its first four second-half possessions to overcome a halftime deficit and produce a 42-35 Conference USA road win at UAB ... Junior Vintavious Cooper rushed for a career-high 172 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries while also recording his first scoring reception with a 30-yarder from Shane Carden late in the third quarter ... In addition to three TDs, he came only one yard shy of a triple-digit ground effort in the second half alone by picking up 99 yards on 11 attempts - an average of 9.0 yards per run ... Carden, who finished the night with a 23-of-35, 386-yard and two touchdown passing performance, also contributed to the Pirates' second-half surge by hitting 11-of-18 tosses for 212 yards in the final 30 minutes ... After holding a 14-13 lead at intermission, the Blazers enjoyed their biggest cushion, 21-13, with 8:36 remaining in the third period before Cooper capped back-to-back ECU possessions with scores ... Receiver Justin Hardy added 132 yards on six catches to help the Pirates post their eighth-highest total offense yardage total in program history and most since 2007.

At Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium - 3-0 in 2012
East Carolina's all-time record at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is 165-84-1 (.662) ... The Pirates opened the facility on Sept. 21, 1963 with a 20-10 win over Brian Piccolo and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in front of 17,000 fans ... Before a 3-3 mark in 2011 and a 4-2 clip in 2010, ECU won a combined 10 of 12 home matchups in 2009 (6-1) and 2008 (4-1) ... Overall, ECU has turned in 36 winning seasons at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The Pirate Nation - 7 Million Strong
East Carolina has always been able to claim plenty of hometown support, even more so when playing at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturdays during the fall - establishing itself as C-USA's attendance leader on an annual basis ... In all, a total of 7,011,319 fans have seen the Pirates in action since 1963, and in the last four-plus years, ECU has averaged 46,510 (1,209,256/26 regular season games) ... Since the completion of a 7,000-seat expansion project in 2010 that pushed the capacity to 50,000, the Pirates have set back-to-back school records in total attendance and season average attendance, breaking 2010 marks (297,987/49,665) with 300,069 and 50,012 figures in 2011 ... The Pirates have opened the 2012 campaign by welcoming 49,023 to the Appalachian State game (Sept. 1), 47,817 to the UTEP clash (Sept. 29) and 45,137 to the Memphis contest (Oct. 13).

Analyzing the 2012 Starters By Class
The list of starters for ECU's first seven games include three freshmen (CB Josh Hawkins, OLB Montese Overton, NT Terrell Stanley), eight sophomores (SS Desi Brown, QB Shane Carden, OLB Maurice Falls, ILB Jeremy Grove, IWR Justin Hardy, C Taylor Hudson, DE Chrishon Rose, NT Terry Williams), 17 juniors (CB Adonis Armstrong, RB Vintavious Cooper, OG Jordan Davis, RB Michael Dobson, OT Adhem Elsawi, OLB Derrell Johnson, QB Rio Johnson, DE John Lattimore, FS Damon Magazu, FB/IWR Zico Pasut, NT Lee Pegues, OWR Lance Ray, OG Will Simmons, SS Chip Thompson, ILB Kyle Tudor, OWR Reese Wiggins, OLB Gabriel Woullard) and eight seniors (OWR Andrew Bodenheimer, RB Reggie Bullock, NT Michael Brooks, C Josh Clark, ILB Daniel Drake, IWR Derrick Harris, CB Jacobi Jenkins, OT Robert Jones).

Already A Popular Target
Sophomore IWR Justin Hardy ranks among the top four active career leaders in receptions per game ... He has already surpassed the 100-yard mark four times in 2012 and logged three career double-digit catch games

Cooper A Committee Of One
Junior RB Vintavious Cooper has led East Carolina in rushing the last seven contests, and in the last four games (UTEP, UCF, Memphis, UAB), has averaged 119.3 ground yards per outing ... He followed a 151-yard performance with 96 and 58 yards vs. the Tigers and Knights, respectively, before booking career highs in carries (26) and yards (172) against the Blazers - the highest rushing total by a Pirate since 2009 (172 by Dominique Lindsay vs. Memphis) ... Cooper (630 yards) currently accounts for nearly 70 percent (67.0) of the Pirates' overall rushing yardage in 2012.

Four-Game Surge
After generating only a combined 461 total yards (230.5 ypg) against Southern Miss (228) and North Carolina (233), East Carolina appears to have found its offensive throttle in its last four games ... The Pirates have racked up a collective 1,806 vs. UTEP (475), UCF (362), Memphis (369) and UAB (season-high 600) - an average of 451.5 yards per contest ... In fact, the 217 rushing yards against the Miners was a Ruffin McNeill era-best, while the 600 total yards gained at UAB ranked as the eighth-best performance in program history and the fourth-highest amount ever logged on the road.

Defending The Run (And Scoreboard)
Although East Carolina has surrendered 269.5 passing and 392.6 total yards per game in its first eight contests, its rush defense average of 123.1 ypg currently stands third in Conference USA, 32nd nationally and ranks among the program's all-time top 10 list ... In addition, the Pirates' defensive scoring average of 25.2 stands second in C-USA and 56th among all FBS members.

Rush Defense...Part II
ECU has held opponents to less than 135 ground yards in six of eight contests this year, which includes limiting Marcus Lattimore's (13-40) South Carolina rushing attack to 131 yards, surrendering just 91 to Southern Miss, only 129 to Giovani Bernard's (18-50) Tar Heels' before giving up 115 to Memphis and a season-low 82 yards at UAB last week.

A Fly In the Ointment
Needless to say, Navy's triple-option scheme will pose a formidable challenge the recent success as the Midshipmen have averaged 402.7 rushing yards per game against the Pirates in three previous meetings (1,208 yards).

An Encore For Grove?
Sophomore ILB Jeremy Grove, who earned inclusion on four Freshman All-America squads in 2011 after booking a rookie school-record 122 stops, currently ranks third nationally among all active career defenders in tackles per game ... He's tallied nine hits in five of eight games this season.

On The First Quarter Rebound
After being held scoreless in the first quarter through their initial four games in `12, the Pirates have answered the bell early lately ... After snapping the drought with a TD against UTEP, East Carolina followed by putting 21 points on the board in the opening 15 minutes in its last three games against UCF, Memphis and UAB and have outscored its last four opponents by a 42-14 count.

Mids, Pirates Playing It Clean
The Midshipmen and Pirates rank third and sixth, respectively, for fewest  penalties committed so far this year ... ECU has earned three or less flags in four games, but are coming off a season-high seven at UAB

Living A Pirate's Way of Life
The Pirates have recorded a takeaway in 24 of its last 28 games ... In all, East Carolina has created two or more turnovers in nine of the last 15 games, which includes two against Memphis, three each vs. Appalachian State and Southern Miss, and a season-high four vs. UTEP this year ... ECU has won 13 of 18 games (13-5) when it forces two or more turnovers in the Ruffin McNeill era, but are just 3-12 in contests when it doesn't ... The Pirates currently rank 12th nationally in fumbles recovered with nine - the fifth highest total among all FBS programs - and are only one of 11 teams who have returned at least two for TDs (vs. Appalachian State, Southern Miss).

Maybe Some Free Football?
East Carolina and Navy are the nation's co-leader in most overtime games played since 2006 with nine.

The Team's Record in 2012
East Carolina's 42-35 win against UAB on Oct. 20 upped the Pirates' record to 5-3 for the fourth time in the last five years ... In addition to the aforementioned overall record, the Pirates' triumph vs. the Blazers also produced East Carolina's fifth 4-1 C-USA record (after five games) in the last six years.

Conference / National Individual Rankings
Inside receiver Justin Hardy ranks second in the conference in receiving yards per game (93.62) and punt return average (9.00), fourth in receptions per contest (6.38), fifth in all-purpose yards (107.12) and tied for 13th in scoring (6.00) ... He is also among the NCAA leaders and is placed tied for 18th in receiving yards a contests and tied for 26th in receptions per game ... Running back Vintavious Cooper ranks fourth in the conference in rushing (78.75), 10th in all-purpose yards (80.86) and 15th in total offense (78.75) ... Quarterback Shane Carden is fourth in passing efficiency (141.02) and sixth in total offense (212.75) ...  Punter Trent Tignor ranks fifth in the conference and 53rd in the country in punting (41.42) ... Safety Chip Thompson is tied for 10th in the league in interceptions a game (0.29) ... Kicker Warren Harvey currently is placed fifth in Conference USA in field goals per game (1.25) and 11th in scoring (6.75) ... Kick returner Lance Ray is eighth in kickoff returns with his average of 21.40 per game ... Linebacker Gabriel Woullard is tied for 16th in sacks (.31) ... Nose guard Terry Williams is tied for 20th in tackles for loss (0.75)

Conference USA Team Rankings
The Pirates enter this week ranking second in scoring defense (25.25) ... The team has the third stingiest rush (123.13) and total defense (392.63) and is fourth in sacks (1.63), passing efficiency (128.15) and passing offense (265.00) ... ECU is also among the top half of the conference in punt returns (8.31 - 5th) and turnover margin (-.13 - sixth).