Nov. 16, 2011
GREENVILLE, N.C. - It's Senior Day at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium as East Carolina plays its final home game of the 2011 season, welcoming UCF to Greenville for a 7:00 p.m. (EST) Conference USA matchup Saturday. Bowl eligibility will be at stake for the Knights and Pirates as both programs are one loss away from postseason elimination with two games remaining.
ECU also needs a victory to guarantee its sixth-straight winning ledger in intra-divisional play and avoid posting its first losing home campaign since 2004 after earlier triumphs over UAB and Tulane, and setbacks to Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Southern Miss.
The Pirates Against The Knights
East Carolina leads 8-2 ... The Pirates had their four-game winning streak, which began in 2006, snapped in a 49-35 setback to the Knights last season ... UCF posted its first victory in the series during the two teams' initial Conference USA matchup in 2005 ... Six (5-1) of the last nine meetings have taken place at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, while the Pirates suffered their first-ever loss in four overall Orlando meetings in 2010.
The Last Meeting
Oct. 30, 2010
The Last Meeting
UCF 49, East Carolina 35 | Oct. 30, 2010 @Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
Tailback Ronnie Weaver rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns to lead a productive UCF ground attack that helped the Knights record a 49-35 Conference USA victory over East Carolina and establish a firm command of the league's divisional race ... The Pirates surrendered then season-highs in rushing yards (265) and ground scores (five), while allowing the Knights to tally touchdowns on seven of 10 possessions ... UCF jumped out to a 28-14 halftime lead, scoring on its first four series before a kneel-down prior to intermission halted the run ... Quarterback Dominique Davis tried to carry ECU on his shoulders, accounting for all five of the Pirates' scores with three TD passes and a pair of scoring runs, but came up short despite a 25-of-34, 221-yard and two touchdown passing effort in the second half alone ... In all, Davis finished the day with 310 yards on a 39-of-54 aerial effort ... His counterpart, Jeff Godfrey, was eight-of-12 through the air for 159 yards and two TDs, but also added 43 rushing yards ... ECU pulled to within 28-21 on a Dwayne Harris TD reception to open the third quarter, but the Knights answered by using scoring runs by Weaver and Latavius Murray to extend the lead to 42-21 early in the fourth quarter.
The Last Meeting In Greenville
Sept. 26, 2009
Harris Leads East Carolina Past UCF 19-14
Led by Dwayne Harris'
two touchdowns, the ECU football team opened up conference play with a 19-14 win over UCF Saturday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The Pirate offense played a balanced game, with four backs rushing for a total of 110 yards.
The Last Meeting In Greenville
East Carolina 19, UCF 14 | Sept. 26, 2009 @Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, N.C.
Junior all-purpose performer Dwayne Harris amassed 178 total yards and accounted for both of the Pirates' touchdowns as East Carolina opened Conference USA play with a 19-14 victory over UCF ... Harris matched a career high with 10 receptions for a season-best 121 yards, three coming on a scoring toss from Patrick Pinkney midway through the fourth quarter to extend a 13-7 lead into a 12-point margin ... On the ground, Harris' 25-yard TD jaunt early in the second period served as the go-ahead score, erasing an early 7-3 UCF lead ... Ben Hartman also added 20 and 19-yard field goals in the first and third quarters to add to the Pirates' scoring efforts during a turnover-marred contest ... East Carolina's defense forced five UCF turnovers, four of which were interceptions turned in by Travis Simmons, Nick Johnson, Jay Ross and Van Eskridge ... Although it was able to control the clock with a season-high possession time of 35:31, East Carolina continued its struggles in the redzone - cashing in only 12 points during five visits ... In all, the Pirates turned in their first 400-yard total offense performance of the season, racking up 403 yards on 79 snaps ... After Harris' touchdown gave the Pirates a 10-7 lead with 14:15 left in the second quarter, the East Carolina defense held UCF to an average of just 21.7 yards on its next seven possessions before the Knights put together an 80-yard scoring drive late in the fourth period to pull to within five at 19-14 ... ECU held the UCF to just 70 rushing yards, thanks in part to four sacks (-21).
Ruffin McNeill Vs. UCF
Saturday's matchup will represent Ruffin McNeill's second meeting versus UCF as a head coach after dropping last year's game in Orlando 49-35. McNeill also squared off against the Knights Oct. 1, 1988, as North Alabama's linebackers coach with UCF claiming a 35-33 triumph.
McNeill Against George O'Leary
Despite a combined 50-plus years coaching at the collegiate level, East Carolina's McNeill and UCF's George O'Leary faced each other on the sidelines for the first time last season ... While the 2011 campaign marks McNeill's 26th and O'Leary's 28th year in college football, the pair have spent a combined 15 seasons as a defensive coordinator (nine for McNeill - 4/Appalachian State, 2/UNLV, 3/Texas Tech; six for O'Leary - all at Georgia Tech).
Among C-USA's Best Since 2007
Saturday's game against UCF features two of Conference USA's best in league wins and overall victories since 2007:
Knights, `Canes, `Noles, Gators and Bulls
The Pirates have dropped 23 of 33 all-time matchups (10-23) against FBS (formerly Division I-A) programs from the state of Florida ... ECU is 8-2 against UCF, 2-9 vs. Miami, 0-1 vs. Florida, 0-4 vs. USF and 0-7 vs. Florida State ... East Carolina has never faced FIU or FAU on the gridiron.
Pirates From The Sunshine State
A total of six players will have an opportunity to possibly face prep teammates and renew high school rivalries when East Carolina squares off against UCF ... A closer look:
|QB Dominique Davis (Sr.)
||Starter (10 games/10 starts)
|OL Jordan Davis (So.)
||Fort Walton Beach
||Starter LT/LG (10/9)
|OL Drew Gentry (Fr.)
||North Florida Christian
||reserve RT (5/1)
|OL Grant Harner (So.)
||starter RT (8/8)
|OL Drew Gentry (Fr.)
||N. Florida Christian
||reserve RT (5/1)
|C Mack Helms (Fr.)
||on medical leave
|OL Doug Polochak (Sr.)
||Ponte Vedra Beach
||starter C (4/4, injured)
No Passing Zone
When the Pirates held UTEP to 188 passing yards Saturday, it marked the fifth-straight contest in which East Carolina kept an opponent under 200 aerial yards - the longest streak for the program since 1999 (also five consecutive games) ... In addition, ECU has surrendered an average of less than one TD pass a contest during the span (1/MEM, 2/NAVY, 0/TLN, 1/USM, 0/UTEP).
Getting It Back
East Carolina has forced a turnover in 16 of its last 18 games ... In its opener, ECU recovered four South Carolina fumbles - the most since TCU coughed it up five times on Nov. 23, 2002 - before producing three takeaways against the Blazers, two vs. Memphis, one at Navy, two vs. Tulane, one vs. Southern Miss and two vs. UTEP ... In all, the Pirates have forced two or more turnovers in three of the last five games and in six of 10 contests this year ... ECU has won eight of 12 games (8-4) when it forces two or more turnovers in the McNeill era, but are just 2-9 in contests when it doesn't.
The Pirates have given up 10 non-offensive touchdowns in 2011, five in the last two games against Southern Miss and UTEP ... In addition to four "pick-sixes," ECU has surrendered touchdown returns on two punts, two fumbles, one kickoff and one blocked punt already this season ... Nearly 25 percent (23.3) of all TDs surrendered by East Carolina during the 2011 campaign have not come from opponent offensive units (10-of-43).
Continued Redzone Success On Both Sides
East Carolina has made 10 stops (in 43 appearances) inside the redzone during the 2011 campaign, already one more than the Pirates' 13-game total a year ago (in 68 visits) ... On the offensive side of the ball, ECU has converted 22-of-24 RZ trips (18 TDs) in its last five games (4-of-4 vs. Memphis, 6-of-7 vs. Navy, 6-of-6 vs. Tulane, 3-of-4 vs. Southern Miss, 3-of-3 vs. UTEP) after a six-of-10 effort the previous three contests.
Freshman Record Setters
Freshman inside receiver Justin Hardy caught three passes at UTEP last Saturday to move his season total to 51 receptions, the most by a rookie in program history. Jason Nichols' 42 grabs in 1994 was the previous best. Hardy's 530 receptions yards are also the most by a freshman, surpassing Nichols' 450 yards in '94.
On the defensive side of the ball, freshman inside linebacker Jeremy Grove recorded seven tackles against the Miners to push his season total to 102, setting the rookie record. Daren Hart booked 97 hits in 1993 for the previous top mark. Grove is ranked seventh among all FBS players this season with 11.3 stops per game.
There Are Two Sides To A Story
East Carolina ranks among the nation's top 25 in punt return average with a clip of 11.5 yards per attempt ... On the flipside, the Pirates stand next-to-last (119th) at the FBS level in punt return defense - giving up 18.7 yards per bring-back ... In fact, ECU has already allowed a pair of punt returns for a TD this season, a first (in the same campaign) since 2007 ... The Pirates gave up 62 punt return yards at UTEP Saturday and have surrendered 218 in the last three games - a clip of 72.7 ypg.