ECU And Southern Miss Set For First-Place Showdown

UABSPORTS.COM Sophomore free safety Damon Magazu is ranked 27th nationally with 0.38 interceptions per game.
Sophomore free safety Damon Magazu is ranked 27th nationally with 0.38 interceptions per game.

Nov. 2, 2011

East Carolina Game 9: Southern Miss
Date Saturday, November 5
Time 4:00 p.m. ET
Location Greenville, N.C. (Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium)
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GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina will attempt to extend its home winning streak against Conference USA East Division opponents to 11 straight when it welcomes Southern Miss to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Saturday for a pivotal 4:00 p.m. matchup. The Pirates have also tallied victories in 12 of their last 13 overall C-USA home contests, including triumphs against UAB (28-23) and Tulane (34-13) earlier this season.

In addition, ECU will try to author its first four-game regular season win streak since 2006 when it meets the Golden Eagles, who own a 15-3 series edge when playing the Pirates in Greenville including wins in seven of the last eight contests.

The Pirates Against The Golden Eagles
Southern Miss leads the all-time series 26-10, but East Carolina has won the last two meetings and three of the last five. The Pirates have actually fared better on the road than inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, winning seven of 18 contests in Hattiesburg while posting just a 3-15 mark against the Golden Eagles in Greenville. Prior to the 2009 home victory, ECU had not topped Southern Miss in Greenville since 1994. The Pirates have never won three-straight contests versus the Golden Eagles.

The Last Meeting
East Carolina
Southern Miss
Oct. 9, 2010
Hattiesburg, Miss.
Pirates Push Past Southern Miss, 44-43
After staking Southern Miss to a 20-0 lead in the opening quarter, the Pirates roared back to take a 44-43 victory when quarterback Dominique Davis hit inside wide receiver Michael Bowman for the game-winning 32-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-7 play.

The Last Meeting
East Carolina 44, Southern Miss 43 | Oct. 9, 2010 @M.M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, Miss.
Dominique Davis' 32-yard scoring strike to Michael Bowman on a fourth-and-seven play with 4:36 remaining lifted East Carolina to a 44-43 Conference USA road victory over Southern Miss and capped an improbable comeback that included a 20-0 first-quarter deficit ... The Golden Eagles benefitted from two early Pirate turnovers and scored on their first four possessions before ECU rallied back behind a 305-yard, four touchdown passing performance by Davis ... Dwayne Harris' seven-yard scoring reception pulled the Pirates to within three (20-17) at halftime before Jonathan Williams' 89-yard kickoff return midway through the third period gave East Carolina its first lead at 31-30 ... The Golden Eagles advanced to midfield on their last possession, but a Matt Milner sack on fourth down ended the threat ... The penalty-marred contest had a combined 24 flags for 229 yards.




The Last Meeting In Greenville
East Carolina
Southern Miss
Nov. 28, 2009
Greenville, N.C.
Pirates Down Southern Miss, 25-20
C.J. Wilson blocked the kick, scooped up the ball and took off for the goal line. Nothing was going to stop him from securing one final home game at East Carolina. The Pirates claimed home-field advantage for the Conference USA championship game by beating Southern Mississippi 25-20 on Saturday, with the final momentum swing coming on Wilson's return of a blocked extra point for the tiebreaking two points.

The Last Meeting In Greenville
East Carolina 25, Southern Miss 20 | Nov. 28, 2009 @Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, N.C.
Senior defensive end C.J. Wilson's blocked extra point attempt and subsequent return for a two-point play with 7:35 remaining broke a 20-20 deadlock and lifted East Carolina to a 25-20 Conference USA victory over Southern Miss that also allowed the Pirates to capture their second-straight division title ... The Golden Eagles rallied back from a 17-7 halftime deficit and tied the contest when Leroy Banks capped a seven-play, 62-yard drive with a three-yard scoring reception from running back Damion Fletcher, who took the snap out of USM's wildcat formation ... On the ensuing PAT, Wilson batted down Danny Hrapmann's kick, scooped up the ball at the 10-yard line and rambled 90 yards for the deciding points ... Ben Hartman followed by adding his third field goal of the day, a 47-yarder with 4:37 remaining, to secure the triumph and give ECU its first-ever 7-1 league mark ... Dominique Lindsay rushed for a game-high 98 yards while Patrick Pinkney completed 25-of-41 passes for 269 yards to lead the Pirates' offensive attack ... After allowing 186 yards of offense in the opening quarter but only trailing 7-3, East Carolina's defense buckled down in the second stanza - giving up 31 yards while the offense answered with two scores to push its intermission lead to 10.




Ruffin McNeill Versus Southern Miss
Despite his long coaching career, Ruffin McNeill has faced Southern Miss on the sideline just twice prior to Saturday's matchup - ironically, both as a member of East Carolina staffs. When McNeill was the Pirates' defensive line coach in 1992, ECU dropped a 38-21 decision to the Golden Eagles in Greenville. McNeill evened his record against Southern Miss with last year's 44-43 victory in Hattiesburg.

During McNeill's playing career at East Carolina, he went 1-1 versus the Golden Eagles. As a safety under Pat Dye, McNeill enjoyed his collegiate debut in 1976 with a 48-0 Pirate victory at Ficklen Stadium before USM used a game-winning 35-yard field goal by Randy Boyette in the third quarter to nip ECU 17-16 during McNeill's junior campaign. In the last meeting, McNeill started at strong safety and was credited with five tackles, three solo.

Larry Fedora Against The Pirates
Larry Fedora will see East Carolina on the opposite sideline for the fourth time (1-2) Saturday, following the Pirates' victories in 2009 and 2010 and the Golden Eagles' 21-3 triumph during the 2008 season - his first at the helm of the Southern Miss program. The Pirates never competed against Baylor, Air Force, Middle Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma State while Fedora served on those respective staffs as an assistant coach.

Pirate Career Numbers Against The Golden Eagles
A total of 10 East Carolina players (3 skill offense/7 defense) have experienced action in at least two battles against Southern Miss during their careers ... A closer look:
CB Derek Blacknall - 3 games, 7 tackles (4 solo) ...
OWR Andrew Bodenheimer - 2 games, no statistics ...
IWR Michael Bowman - 3 games, 2-52 receiving, 1 TD (game-winner in '10), 1-56 KOR ...
NG Michael Brooks - 2 games, 6 tackles (3 solo) ...
CB Emanuel Davis - 3 games, 18 tackles (13 solo), 7 pass breakups ...
CB Jacobi Jenkins - 2 games, 2 tackles (1 solo), pass breakup ...
CB Rahkeem Morgan - 2 games, 1 assisted tackle ...
CB Leonard Paulk - 2 games, 4 tackles (3 solo), forced fumble, pass breakup ...
FS Justin Venable - 2 games, 1 solo tackle ...
OWR Joe Womack- 2 games, 4-72 receiving, long of 34

An East Division Showdown
The Pirates are 24-8 (.750) against Conference USA East Division opponents since the league implemented division play in 2005 ... ECU is 13-3 at home and 11-5 on the road in games against Marshall, Memphis, Southern Miss, UAB and UCF ... Before finishing 2010 with a 4-1 record (wins over MEM, USM, MAR and UAB, loss at UCF) and taking all five "east" matchups in 2009, the Pirates posted a 4-1 record in '08, a 3-2 slate in '07, a 4-1 mark in '06 and a 2-3 ledger in '05.

Holding Strong At 3-1 In C-USA
The Pirates improved to 3-1 in Conference USA play for the fourth time in the last five seasons after they defeated Tulane last Saturday ... ECU was also 3-1 in 2007 and in C-USA title-winning campaigns of 2008 and 2009 ... The Pirates were 4-0 a year ago after triumphs against Tulsa, Memphis, Southern Miss and Marshall before dropping three of their last four to close the year.

A Step In The Right Direction
Although it has averaged only one turnover in the last two games (none vs. Navy, two vs. Tulane), East Carolina's inability to maintain possession of the football in the first six games still has the Pirates near the top of the national giveaway rankings ... ECU has turned it over a total of 25 (13 fumbles, 12 interceptions) times so far in 2011 ... After losing it five times against South Carolina in the opener, ECU followed with one turnover vs. VT, a school-record-tying seven against UAB, four each vs. UNC and UH and two at Memphis on Oct. 15 before the "perfect" effort against the Midshipmen:

No. School G Turnovers Turnovers/Game
1. San Jose State 8 26 3.25
2. East Carolina 8 25 3.13
3. Tulsa 8 24 3.00
4. SMU 8 21 2.63
  South Carolina 8 21 2.63
  Oregon State 8 21 2.63

Winning Streak Denominators
East Carolina currently enjoys a three-game winning streak and will attempt to become the first Pirate squad to book a four-game regular season victory string since 2006 when it squares off against Southern Miss Saturday ... Some trends which have played a role in the run:
♦ Senior Dominique Davis has completed 97-of-128 passes (75.8 percent) for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns while suffering only one interception ...
♦ The Pirates have rushed for eight touchdowns after tallying only three ground scores during the initial five games of the year ...
♦ ECU has surrendered an average of just 148.3 passing yards, 12.7 completions and 1.0 aerial TDs per game, while recording three picks ...
♦ East Carolina's last three victories have come against teams that are a combined 6-20 this season; ECU's four overall wins are against programs that are 7-27 in 2011, while its four losses are to teams with a record of 29-5.

Pressuring League Quarterbacks
The Pirates have netted 12 sacks in their first four Conference USA contests this season, an average of 3.0 per game ... ECU tallied three in its opener against UAB before picking up a pair at Houston, three more vs. Memphis and a season-high four against Tulane last week ... Four different members of the Pirates' front seven had drops against the Green Wave - DE Derrell Johnson (3.0 in 2011), OLB Marke Powell, NG Michael Brooks and DE Lee Pegues ... The effort vs. Tulane marked the fourth multiple-sack game in 2011 for ECU after recording just four multi-drop contests in 2010 (none after week five).

Increasing Big Play Frequency
After recording only four plays of 30 or more yards in its first five games this season, East Carolina has reeled off six (43 and 32-yard runs; 58, 51, 33 and 32-yard receptions) by five different players in its last three contests against Memphis, Navy and Tulane ... On the other hand, the Pirates still haven't posted a rush of 48 yards or more, or scored on a run 38 yards or longer in the Ruffin McNeill era (a time span that covers 21 contests).

Redzone Success On Both Sides
East Carolina has already made seven stops (in 35 appearances) inside the redzone during the 2011 campaign, only two shy of the Pirates' 13-game total of a year ago (68 visits) ... On the offensive side of the ball, ECU has converted 16-of-17 RZ trips (13 TDs) in its last three games (4-of-4 vs. Memphis, 6-of-7 vs. Navy and 6-of-6 vs. Tulane) after cashing in only six-of-10 opportunities the previous three contests.

Going For It
ECU is currently eighth nationally in fourth down conversion percentage with a clip of 80.0 (8-of-10) ... The Pirates are three-of-three in their last two games and were successful on 21 of 28 tries to stand sixth nationally (75.0%) in '10.

Grove = FBS' Top Rookie Tackles
East Carolina freshman starting inside linebacker Jeremy Grove ranks among the nation's top seven tacklers after netting 82 in his first seven collegiate games ... After sitting out the Memphis contest with a shoulder injury, he booked a team-high 10 stops against Navy Oct. 22 before following with a career-low six tackles vs. Tulane ... A closer look at the national leaders:

No. Name (class) School Games Tackles Tackles/Game
1. Luke Kuechly (Jr.) Boston College 8 130 16.3
2. Brian Wagner (Jr.) Akron 8 116 14.5
3. Trent Mackey (Jr.) Tulane 9 115 12.8
4. Bobby Wagner (Sr.) Utah State 7 89 12.7
5. Danny Trevathan (Sr.) Kentucky 8 94 11.8
  Curnelius Arnick (Sr.) Tulsa 8 94 11.8
7. Jeremy Grove (Fr.) East Carolina 7 82 11.7