Memphis Pulls Away in the Second Half to Take a 59-41 Win Over ECU
Darrell Henderson ran for 132 yards and scored three touchdowns and Brady White threw for 362 yards and three scores as Memphis cruised to a 59-41 win over ECU Saturday afternoon in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
It was ECU's sixth loss in eight tries despite 449 yards of passing and three touchdowns from Pirate freshman quarterback Holton Ahlers who also led the team in rushing with 57 yards. Trevon Brown added ten receptions for 193 yards and two scores but the ECU defense gave up 639 yards of total offense which was slightly better than the 556 that ECU was able to muster.
"You can't make mistakes. It's not offense, defense or special teams, we're one team. Today we lost and we came up short and that's on everyone," Ahlers said after the game, "Every rep is getting slower and slower and the coaches are doing a great job with me. I believe in the guys around me to make plays and the guys up front to protect me."
Ahlers talked about what he takes out of a game where his team lost despite putting up some pretty big numbers.
"Just keep believing in the system. The coaches have done a good job. They've put in a system that we believe in a lot and we're just going to keep working and stay in the film room. We're going to be alright. We're Pirates and I came here because of that. We're not going to back down to anyone and we're not going to. We're not going to give up, we're going to keep pushing and we're going to be alright."
Senior wideout Trevon Brown also says he has a lot of confidence in the ECU offense. It's just a matter of putting it all together and limiting mistakes.
"We did what we do every week on offense. I think we're a top five offense, but we just didn't come out with the win," said Brown, "We just have to come back to practice and get better tomorrow. Every day is a great day to get better."
Henderson got plenty of help from fellow Memphis running back Tony Pollard who racked up 89 yards on the ground in his own right while Damonte Coxie added ten catches for 176 yards to go along with two touchdowns for the Tigers who move to 5-4 with the victory.
"We're closing the gap, but almost is one of the saddest words in the world. Almost doesn't matter. It was a much tighter game than what the final score ended up being. In the third quarter there was a couple of drives there that we didn't start well," said third year ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery, ''We had a mental error on a third down snap where we jumped offsides and that was critical. We also had an error in a route that was critical and those are the things you can't do if you're going to be successful in beating a team like Memphis or a team in our conference."
"We are getting better. We've got to fix a few things on offense and defense and special teams but we can do that down the stretch. I would be remiss without saying Henderson is one of the better players we've seen," said Montgomery, "He is definitely a National Football League back."
The game was still close in the third quarter when ECU tied the game at 31 apiece on a 31-yard Ahlers to Trevon Brown touchdown strike. Then after a Pat Taylor one-yard touchdown for Memphis, the Pirates trimmed the lead to four on a 47-yard field goal from Jake Varity who also hit a 52 yarder just before halftime.
But a dropped ball on what looked to be a sure interception from Gerald Springer in the defensive secondary for ECU(2-6/0-5 AAC) was followed by a pair of quick Henderson touchdown runs that put what was a close game out of reach.
"That was a huge play in the game. We started something this week where we had a take away photo. We wanted to bring the whole team together on the sideline after a takeaway and take a picture just like we did on the touchdown shoot," Montgomery said, "That's why all eleven kids were coming to the sideline because that's what it takes to get a touchdown and that's what it takes to get a turnover. We just didn't create a turnover. I think they put one ball on the ground, we didn't get it. We put one ball on the ground and they got it. We've got to find a way to create some turnovers."
The closest ECU was able to get from there was eleven points on an Ahlers to Tyler Snead 13-yard touchdown pass with just under five minutes to go before Tony Pollard's one-yard touchdown put the game out of reach for the Tigers.
"We were there in a lot of spots to tackle and didn't tackle them as well as we have tackled. Henderson did present some problems for us. He is a really good player. We've got to get to the point where we're making plays on those guys collectively," said Montgomery.
Tank Robinson had twelve tackles and Devon Sutton added eleven to lead the ECU defense that had to fight through too much adversity in the second half to close the deal. Strong safety Tyrez Lindsey led Memphis(5-4/2-3 AAC) with 11 tackles to go along with ten more from linebacker Curtis Akins.
ECU hits the road next week to take on Tulane in New Orleans in a must win situation if the 2-6 Pirates want to fight back to bowl eligibility by the end of the season.
After the game Scottie Montgomery addressed the press where he took questions about the loss to Memphis.