A 19-16 loss to Cincinnati on senior day was not the way that East Carolina wanted their season to end. Despite the defense having an outstanding day, a win was not in the cards for the Pirates.
With that said, let's take a look at the good, bad, and ugly of the East Carolina Pirates in a loss to Cincinnati.
- Hanging Around: The Pirates, with an unnatural number of silly mistakes, probably should have been down for a majority of this game. The excellent play of the ECU defense forced three field goal attempts (1 missed) and a missed PAT. They did everything they could to keep East Carolina in the game.
- Punting: You could make a case that Worth Gregory was the MVP of this team in 2015. He again came up with excellent play with three of his four punts landing inside the opponents 20-yard line. Even with the other punt that was returned to the 34-yard line, starting field position for Cincinnati after Gregory's punts was the 16-yard line. Davis Plowman even got into the act with one punt that was downed at the Bearcats 14-yard line.
- Missed opportunities: Two drives got well into Cincinnati territory and ended in a punt. A first half drive got to the 23 before a holding penalty and a loss of yards on offense moved them back to the 40 yard line, necessitating a punt. The other saw ECU face a fourth down at the Cincinnati 33-yard line and decide to go with a quick punt. The punt only went 14 yards and the Bearcats immediately responded with a field goal on the ensuing drive. Lost points and missed opportunities killed the Pirates.
- Third down defense: For the most part, the Pirates defense played well in holding an explosive Beatcats offense to only 19 points. The part where they struggled was on third down. Cincinnati converted 15-22 third downs for a 68% conversion rate. While they never win the TOP, that is a major reason that ECU lost the time of possession battle by 12 minutes in this game.
- Running the ball: When Blake Kemp is your leading rusher on the day, that is not a good sign. The team, as a whole, only rushed for 68 yards on 18 carries. Chris Hairston ended his ECU career with a seven carry, 21 yard game versus Cincinnati. The only bright spot was Anthony Scott's 19 yards, but he only got two carries on the day.
- Personal Foul Penalties: Two personal foul penalties changed the game completely away from an East Carolina win. The first was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on James Summers after a touchdown that tied the game at 16. It moved the PAT attempt back 15 yards with ECU missing the kick. The second was a 15-yard penalty with Cincinnati at their own 31-yard line and under two minutes left in the game. It jump started the Bearcats to nearly midfield and an eventual game winning kick.
- The Pirates season comes to an end with the 19-16 loss to Cincinnati. East Carolina ends their season one win short of bowl eligibility at 5-7.