The East Carolina Pirates rode a great defensive effort in route to a 30-17 win over Tulsa. What looked good, what looked bad, and what was ugly about the win over the Golden Hurricane?
Defense Comes Up Big: The final numbers show that ECU gave up 463 yards on the day, but numbers are not always truthful. Before a lot of garbage time yardage (242 fourth quarter yards), ECU held the high-octane Golden Hurricane offense to barely over 200 yards. Adding in a 100-yard pick-six by Josh Hawkins and 13 tackles from Zeek Bigger, the ECU defense played very well.
Special Teams: The Pirates punting game has been excellent in 2015, save one blocked punt versus BYU. Worth Gregory punted eight times for a 42.4 average, but more importantly, five of his eight punts landed inside the Tulsa 20-yard line. Davis Plowman was 3-3 for the day on field goals with makes from 23, 24, and 41 yards. Three of Caleb Pratt’s kickoffs were downed for touchbacks. ECU looks so much better as a team when the kicking game is playing well.
Getting The Win: If the Pirates want to go bowling, games like Tulsa are must win games. ECU took care of things in impressive fashion in this dominant win. Getting to 4-3 puts the Pirates in great position to get to six wins and a bowl berth.
Third And Fourth Down Defense: The Pirates were not good at converting third downs on offense, but were bailed out by a defense that held Tulsa to 7 of 24 on third and fourth down conversions. That is a 29.1% conversion rate. The defense did a great job at getting off the field.
Third Down Conversions: The Pirates were only able to convert 4 of 15 third down conversions on the day. If not for a dominant performance by the ECU defense, this statistic could have hurt the Pirates much more.
Fourth Quarter Play: It was evident with a 23-0 lead in the fourth quarter, East Carolina took their foot off the pedal in the final 15 minutes. That nearly came back to bite them as Tulsa scored ten straight points and had the ball with a chance to cut the lead to 23-17. The ECU defense came up big with back to back fourth down stops, but it shouldn’t have been that close.
First Quarter offense: The Pirates offense went through a first quarter stretch that included three possessions for a total of 11 plays and 26 yards. Tulsa was even worse during that stretch with a pick-six given up followed by their next 14 plays totaling 66 yards and four punts. Combined, Tulsa and East Carolina ran 25 offensive plays for 92 yards (3.7 yards per play) during the middle of the opening quarter.
Play Of The Game:
Hawkins taking the interception 100 yards the other way for a touchdown. That gave the Pirates an early 7-0 lead and confidence to dominate the Golden Hurricane.
A Thursday night matchup versus the undefeated Temple Owls. This should be a fun AAC matchup with the Pirates opening up as a two-point favorite.