ECU Closes Season With R+L Carriers Bowl

UABSPORTS.COM Head Coach Ruffin McNeill
UABSPORTS.COM
Head Coach Ruffin McNeill
UABSPORTS.COM

Dec. 17, 2012

East Carolina Game 13: Louisiana (R+L Carriers Bowl)
Date Saturday, Dec. 22
Time 12 Noon (EST)
Location New Orleans, La. (Mercedes-Benz Superdome )
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GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina will make its sixth bowl appearance in the last seven years when it faces off against Sun Belt Conference member Louisiana in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 22 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Pirates, who will try to maintain their momentum after closing the regular season with wins in five of the last six games, are in search of their first bowl victory since defeating No. 22 Boise State 41-38 in the 2007 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl. ECU will also be looking for its ninth win of the year, which would be the program's second-highest single-season victory total.

East Carolina Records and Streaks

  • Qualified for 12 bowls since 1990; eight since 2000 (six of last seven years) ...
  • Has won nine-straight games (and 37 of 42) when scoring 30 or more points ...
  • Has lost 11-straight games when scoring 20 or less points ...
  • Has won 20 of the last 21 games when converting third downs at 50% or higher ...
  • Has won 11-straight games when gaining 200 or more rushing yards ...
  • Has lost 13 of the last 14 games when surrendering 200 or more rushing yards ...
  • Has lost three-straight (and five of the last six) bowl games ...
  • Has won three-straight games against current Sun Belt Conference members ...
  • Has won two-straight (and three of the last four) games in the Superdome ...

The Series
Louisiana leads 6-4 ... The two teams haven't met since 1990 when the Pirates posted a 20-10 win in Lafayette ... ECU took three of the first five contests, but the Ragin' Cajuns closed the series with victories in four of the last five ... East Carolina is 3-2 against UL (formerly known as Southwestern Louisiana) when playing in Lafayette, but only 1-4 in Greenville.

East Carolina Against The Sun Belt Conference
East Carolina has compiled an all-time record of 8-7 (.533) against current members of the Sun Belt Conference ... In addition to a 4-6 ledger against Louisiana, the Pirates are 2-0 vs. Arkansas State,1-0 vs. North Texas and 1-1 against Louisiana-Monroe (formerly Northeast Louisiana) ... ECU's last contest against a current SBC member was a 34-16 triumph over Arkansas State on Nov. 2, 1996 - a contest played at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Louisiana Against Conference USA
Louisiana has posted a 39-94-1 (.295) all-time mark against current members of Conference USA ... The Ragin' Cajuns have faced ECU (6-4), Houston (3-6), Memphis (4-9), Rice (3-2), Southern Miss (11-39-1), Tulane (5-21), Tulsa (5-4), UAB (2-4), UCF (0-4) and UTEP (0-1) ... UL's last battle against a C-USA member was its 41-13 victory over Tulane earlier this season.

Mark Hudspeth Against The Pirates
The bowl meeting will be Mark Hudspeth's first-ever against East Carolina as a collegiate coach.

Ruffin McNeill Against Hudspeth
Although East Carolina's Ruffin McNeill and Louisiana's Mark Hudspeth have never been on opposite sidelines as coaches during a contest, the two do have a common association - both worked at North Alabama (McNeill/linebackers coach in 1988; Hudspeth/head coach from 2002-2008) ... While McNeill worked on the Lions' staff, UNA squared off against a Delta State program that featured a freshman by the name of Mark Hudspeth on its roster and handed the Statesmen a 27-24 setback on Sept. 24 in Cleveland, Miss.

Ruff At-A-Glance ... Post-Season Destinations
As previously mentioned, the 2012 season marks Pirate head coach Ruffin McNeill's 27th at the collegiate level ... In 17 years at college football's top level (FBS/I-A), he's coached in 14 bowls (7-7) with four different programs (East Carolina, Texas Tech, Fresno State, Clemson) ... In seven seasons as an assistant at the FCS (I-AA) level, McNeill coached in six playoff games during his two tours of duty at Appalachian State (`89-91 and `93-95).

Notebooking Shane Carden
Although initially coming up short to Rio Johnson (left program 11/09/12) after a heated nine-month (spring, preseason camp) battle for the starting position prior to the season opener, he took over the job prior to the Southern Miss game after a strong second-half performance at South Carolina Sept 8...

  • Has accounted for 29 of ECU's 41 offensive TDs as the Pirates' top quarterback (1-1/SC, 2-2/USM, 3-4/UTEP, 2-2/UCF, 5-5/MEM, 2-5/UAB, 1-4/NAVY, 4-5/UH, 3-4/TLN and 6-9/MAR) and led drives that produced all 13 FGs ...
  • Has converted 42-of-45 redzone opportunities while under center ...
  • Leads all ECU ball-carriers with eight ground TDs ...
  • In the last seven games, has completed 56-of-73 passes (76.7%) for 794 yards and 6 TDs in first quarter action alone ...
  • In the last six games, has completed 93-of-127 passes (73.2%) for 1,189 yards and 9 TDs in first half action alone ...
  • Also ranks among the top 45 of all FBS QBs in total passing yards (36th), completions/game (37th) and passing yards/game (42nd) ...
  • Established an ECU single-game record with 439 passing yards vs. Marshall and logged the program's third-highest completion percentage (80.9) with career-bests in completions (38) and attempts (47) ... Was 19-of-22 for 261 yards in first-half action vs. the Herd (9-of-9, 163 yards in first quarter) ...
  • Threw for 386 yards vs. UAB and matched a school single-game record with five TD strikes against Memphis in successive weeks ...
  • Directed an offensive unit that racked up 600 yards against the Blazers - the eighth-best single-game performance in program history ...
  • Posted career-bests in rushing yards (63) vs. UTEP and ground TDs (3) vs. Marshall ...
  • Connected with Justin Hardy on a career-long 76-yarder (TD) at UCF, which currently ranks as ECU's longest play from scrimmage in 2012 ...
  • Made first collegiate start at Southern Miss and rallied Pirates to a C-USA win with a strong second-half performance (7-of-10, 93 passing yards, TD) ...
  • Came off the bench to open the second half and directed East Carolina's only two scoring drives against then-No. 9 South Carolina (FG, TD) ...
  • After suffering an interception on first collegiate pass vs. Gamecocks, bounced back to hit 12-of-17 throws, including first career completion - a 14-yarder ...

Cooper: A Committee Of One
Junior RB Vintavious Cooper has led East Carolina in rushing the last 11 contests, and in the last five games (UAB, Navy, UH, TLN, MAR), has averaged 114.4 ground yards per outing ... He booked a career-high 172 yards against the Blazers - the highest rushing total by a Pirate since 2009 (172 by Dominique Lindsay vs. MEM) - and added 121 against Midshipmen, 140 vs. the Cougars (on a personal-best 33 carries), 87 vs. the Green Wave and 52 vs. the Herd ... Cooper, who currently accounts for nearly 65 percent of the Pirates' overall rushing total, became the 12th East Carolina RB in history to produce a 1,000-yard rushing campaign (first since 2009) with his 52-yard effort against Marshall.

C-USA Offensive Prowess
After generating only 228 total yards in its Conference USA opener at Southern Miss, East Carolina found its offensive throttle in its last seven league games ... The Pirates racked up a collective 3,298 vs. UTEP (475), UCF (362), Memphis (369), UAB (season-high 600), Houston (550), Tulane (387) and Marshall (555) - an average of 471.1 yards per contest.

Band On The Run
The Pirates have posted the top three single-game rushing totals of the Ruffin McNeil era this season, following up a 217-yard effort against UTEP with a 214-yard outing at UAB and a season-high 245-yard performance versus Houston ... ECU added its fourth-highest total of the `12 campaign with 172 against Tulane, and has averaged 178.2 in its last five C-USA games.

Reaping Redzone Rewards
ECU has cashed in 31-straight redzone visits (27 TDs, 4 FGs), beginning with its last three against Memphis and a 28-of-28 ledger vs. UAB (6-6), Navy (4-4), Houston (7-7), Tulane (4-4) and Marshall (7-7) ... The Pirates are 45-of-49 overall (91.8%) in 2012, currently ranking 5th among all FBS programs.