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November 9, 2013
Pirates Mash Tulsa 58-24
East Carolina continues their winning ways with a big Homecoming win over Tulsa on Saturday. Catch PI-TV Postgame with Coach Ruff's comments along with player reactions and more. Catch PI First Photos from ECU - Tulsa over on our Pillage-N-Plunder fan forum.
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina put together sixty minutes of quality football in handily beating Tulsa 58-24 for Homecoming Saturday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The Pirates didn't get the immediate fast start they were looking for, but it didn't take long to warm up to the occasion for their seventh victory of the season against just a pair of losses. It was their fifth Conference USA win of the year with just one defeat.
The contest between the two teams ended the same way the last one did three years ago with a touchdown to end the game only this time it wasn't the game winner. Defensive back DeShaun Amos picked off a Tulsa pass with eleven seconds to go and took it back to the house for a 100 yard pick six as time expired.
It was a big homecoming win for East Carolina(7-2/5-1 C-USA) who continues to work toward a Conference USA east division title with just two league games remaining.
ECU quarterback Shane Carden completed 34 of 50 for 384 yards, which ties his personal best of five touchdowns to go along with two rushing touchdowns in the victory. It was Carden's tenth 300 yard game.
"Shane is an all-conference player. I think he proves it week in and week out. He keeps getting better. I'm proud of Shane's progress. They (the team) call him 'Captain Carden' for a reason. He's our captain and our team believes in him and our staff believes in him. He has a great impact on our football team," said ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill.
Justin Hardy passed Lance Lewis on the all time ECU touchdowns list with 23 on a 5-yard Shane Carden touchdown pass in the third quarter. Hardy ended up with ten grabs for 99 yards on the day. That's 32 straight games with at least three catches.
Meanwhile ever improving freshman receiver Isaiah Jones hauled in eight catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns of his own.
"He's a great football player. He comes from a great bloodline from (former ECU football standout) Robert (Jones). He's such a smart football player and he has great instinct. When I watched him on video when we started recruiting him, he reminded me of deuce (Justin Hardy) because of how he attacks the ball. If you watch him, you'll see how he just attacks the ball like Justin does. Zay keeps improving week by week and I know he'll continue it."
The Pirate head coach reflected further on East Carolina's performance against Tulsa after the game.
"One of the things we've talked about is offense, defense and special teams playing off of one another. One of the goals I have for our team is to play off of each other and I was proud of the way we responded. We knew that Tulsa would come in with a championship mentality because they won it all last year, just like we had that mentality my first year here," McNeill said, "I was proud of our team and that we were able to come back and beat them convincingly. There are some things that we'll want to take back. Some plays here and some plays there, but I was very happy for the win and that we keep moving and advancing."
The Pirates racked up 505 yards in total offense while giving up 363 to the Golden Hurricane. Trey Watts did most of his damage in the first half, but the Pirates held him to just over 20 yards in the second half as the Tulsa running back ended up with 120 yards and a touchdown on the day. Dane Evans completed 13 of 33 for 142 yards and a touchdown to go along with two interceptions for the Golden Hurricane.
Hard hitting Kyle Tudor and Chip Thompson led the Pirates defensively with 11 and 9 tackles respectively.
Tulsa's Bill Blankenship talked about his team's performance.
"We knew it would be tough. We had to play well on third downs and I thought we fought really hard. There were some crazy things that happened at the end and the score gets away. I'm talking about the very end. I thought we fought and I know that's crazy to people that see the score but I thought we did some really good things," Blankenship said, "Honestly, and again guys, I am not talking about the last five, seven, eight minutes but when things were still kind of up in the air we were forcing them to have to make plays and I thought we were making some plays. If we get a fourth down stop or a third down stop with our defense, force a field goal; there were something's that if you look at that it would have been easy to fold your tent, but our guys played today and I was very pleased with them."
Blankenship talked about Carden's overall perfomance on Saturday.
"He is dynamite. We knew that coming in. He did not disappoint. There were some guys that got him out of trouble, a lot of conversions that were big. We knew it when we came in that he was one of the best in the league. He played very well."
Multi-talented running back Trey Watts got Tulsa on the scoreboard first on a one yard run up the middle to put Tulsa in the lead 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
East Carolina struck back when Shane Carden quarterback keeper up the middle tied the game at 7 apiece.
Carden and the Pirates struck again with 11:53 left in the first half when he connected with big Cam Worthy in the left corner of the endzone for a 28-yard touchdown. Warren Harvey's PAT made it 14-7 ECU
Carl Salazar kicked a 19-yard field goal to pull Tulsa(2-7/1-4 C-USA) to within four points at the 6:54 mark of the second quarter.
Zeek Bigger's timely interception with 1:10 to go put the Pirates in business once again before halftime. Carden then read a Tulsa blitz and found Isaiah Jones over the middle where he sliced in from 18 yards for another ECU touchdown with 1:10 left in the second quarter. Jones had 10 catches in the first half alone.
East Carolina took a 21-10 margin at intermission.
Carden passed for 219 yards in the first half with two touchdowns in 18 of 24 passing and a rushing touchdown as ECU rolled up 230 yards of offense in the first two quarters to 186 for Tulsa. Justin Hardy pulled down four catches in the first two quarters including a pair of circus catches.
Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans went 9 of 19 for 104 yards and one interception. Tulsa's Trey Watts ran for 104 yards in the first half on 20 carries with one touchdown.
The Golden Hurricane made progress in their first possession of the second half, but two bone crushing hits from Chip Thompson and a deflected fourth down pass by defensive lineman Lee Pegues snuffed out Tulsa's early second half momentum.
ECU was in business two possessions later when Carden slipped out of the pocket and scrambled down the left sideline for big yardage to the Tulsa 30 yard line. Justin Hardy's catch on third-and-nine kept the Pirate drive alive where two Vintavious Cooper runs found ECU with first and goal on the six yard line. With 5:30 to go, Hardy's 23rd touchdown catch on a post patter gave him the all-time ECU record for touchdowns.
Ja'Terian Douglas ran the ensuing kickoff back 83 yards to the ECU 15 yard line. Trey Watts' touchdown catch on the first play of the drive for Tulsa cut ECU's lead to 28-17.
But the Pirates didn't let off the accellerator on the next possession when Vintavious Cooper's running put ECU into position to score again from the Tulsa 23 yard line. With 1:32 to go in the third quarter, Carden threw a dart that found Jones over the middle for his second touchdown of the day. Warren Harvey's PAT made it 35-17.
ECU linebacker Montese Overton forced a Tulsa fumble early in the fourth quarter and one minute later the Pirates converted that into another score to extend ECU's lead to 42-17 on a Shane Carden one-yard run. Overton got his sixth sack of the season on Saturday including four in his last two contests.
The Golden Hurricane was able to score a touchdown when Lance Ray's pass catch was popped loose and Will Barrow scooped it up and ran it back 37 yards for a touchdown. Carl Salazar's PAT trimmed ECU's lead to 42-24.
Davis Plowman connected on a 19 yard field goal with 4:56 left to give ECU a 45-24 lead.
Carden connected with big Bryce Williams for a five yard touchdown for a 52-24 lead late in the contest.
Tulsa took the ball down the field late and threatened to score in the redzone before DeShaun Amos' 100 yard pick six capped the Pirate's seventh win of the year.
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