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East Carolina's Offense Struggles In 31-13 Loss to Connecticut

Showing a bit of a hangover from the end of last week's loss to Temple, East Carolina never could get the offense rolling in a disappointing loss to Connecticut.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Unable to get anything going offensively until it was too late, the East Carolina Pirates sputtered to a 31-13 loss to the Connecticut Huskies.

This result will come with a bit of controversy as many felt that the Pirates stuck too long with Summers at quarterback before going to Kemp late in the game. That argument seemed to be killed with Kemp throwing interceptions on three of his four drives late in the game.

After a slow start to the game with punts in the first two possessions of the game, the ECU defense got things started with an pick-six. DaShawn Benton intercepted a UConn pass and took it back 32 yards for a touchdown. A blocked extra point gave East Carolina a 6-0 lead.

The Hukies then took over the game with back to back scoring drives, the first scoring a field goal and the second scoring a touchdown. In the first drive, UConn drove the ball 37 yards before being stalled at the ECU 45. Bobby Puyol came one and nailed a 45-yard field goal to cut the ECU lead to 6-3. After another Pirates punt, the Huskies then went on a methodical 12-play, 94-yard drive that was capped by a two-yard Arkeel Newsome touchdown run to give UConn a 10-6 lead with 7:44 left in the half.

The Pirates offense finally showed signs of life in the final two drives of the first half, before both came to a screeching halt. ECU moved to the UConn 33-yard line and faced a fourth and two. James Summers was sacked, giving the ball back to the Huskies late in the half. After a UConn three and out, ECU had one last shot, moving to the UConn 30 before Summers was intercepted by Jamar Summers.

The game went to the half with UConn leading 10-6.

With field position at the 49 yard line in their second drive of the second half, many were calling for a patented quarterback change that had sparked so many turnarounds this season. Instead Summers again came out, driving to the UConn 33 before being sacked for the second time on fourth down to end the drive. This time, UConn got the ball on their own 34-yard line.

Eight plays after the defensive stop, UConn added to their lead with a touchdown pass from Bryant Shirreffs to Alec Bloom to extend the lead to 17-6 in favor of the Huskies. Another three and out by the ECU defense pinned UConn at their own 10-yard line. One play later, the Pirates were in big trouble as Newsome sprinted 90 yard for another touchdown. A successful PAT made the lead 24-6 in favor of UConn.

Blake Kemp finally got his chance with the Pirates trailing by 18 points and proceeded to throw interceptions on each of his first two drives. Following a turnover by UConn, Kemp finally found some success and hit Marquez Grayson for a 44-yard pass play to get to the Huskies five. Three plays later, ECU pulled within 24-13 on a two-yard touchdown run by Kemp.

Needing a one big defensive stop to have a chance at pulling out a win, ECU could not slow down Newsome yet again. The Huskies ran an eight-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a touchdown run by Shirreffs to put the game away at 31-13. Another interception by Kemp, the fourth ECU turnover of the night, put a bow on a miserable night in East Hartford, Connecticut with the Pirates falling 31-13.

Falling to 4-5 with the loss, the Pirates made securing a bowl berth much easier with three games remaining: USF, at UCF, and home versus Cincinnati. ECU will need to win two of those three games to earn bowl eligibility.