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Comeback Falls Short For Pirates: BYU 45, East Carolina 38

Giving a great effort, the Pirates were nearly saved by a relief quarterback for the third straight game before falling at the end to BYU.

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Watching a valiant comeback fall to the wayside, the East Carolina Pirates could not stop BYU one last time in falling 45-38 in Provo Saturday night.

Giving the start to James Summers after his back to back relief wins, the Pirates jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on a 34-yard touchdown run by the quarterback. ECU added another touchdown on a punt that was blocked by Trevian Hicks and recovered by Yiannis Bowden in the end zone. A successful PAT by Davis Plowman gave ECU a 14-0 lead.

BYU responded to the quick start by East Carolina with a 10-play, 75-yard march downfield. The drive was capped by a 22-yard pass from Tanner Mangum to Algernon Brown that cut the ECU lead to 14-7. After a three and out by the Pirates, BYU came up with a blocked punt of their own, recovering at the ECU one-yard line. Three plays later, Brown had his second touchdown of the day and we were tied at 14.

East Carolina could not respond, going three and out and punting again to the Cougars. After a Worth Gregory punt to the BYU 32-yard line, Mangum again led the Cougars on a touchdown drive, this time 10 plays and 68 yards. Mitch Matthews was the recipient of the touchdown pass that gave BYU a 21-14 lead.

Another poor offensive possession by ECU gave the ball again to BYU late in the first half. Seven plays later, Mangum found Terenn Houk for his third touchdown pass of the day, extending the Cougars lead to 28-14.

Going in a different route, ECU inserted Blake Kemp at quarterback for the final drive of the first half. Kemp provided the Pirates with a spark, going 6-7 for 64 yards on the drive. The drive ended with Kemp finding Trevon Brown for a one-yard touchdown pass to pull East Carolina within 28-21 at the half.

Looking to seize momentum to start the second half, ECU’s defense could not tackle Brown yet again. This time, Brown scampered 53 yards for a score, his third of the day. A successful PAT brought the BYU lead back to 14 at 35-21. The Cougars added a 37-yard field goal on their next drive to take a 38-21 lead. BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum injured his hamstring and left the game following that series.

Somehow surviving three consecutive possessions with a turnover and only giving up three points, Kemp led the Pirates on a six-play, 82-yard drive. Chris Hairston capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to pull the Pirates within ten points at 38-28. After trading punts, the Pirates again found room versus the BYU defense in moving 63 yards on six plays. Kemp found Isaiah Jones for a seven-yard touchdown pass to pull ECU within three at 38-35.

East Carolina’s defense finally made a big play, with Yiannis Bowden intercepting BYU backup quarterback Beau Hoge and returning the ball to the BYU 43. Five plays later, Plowman hit another field goal, this time from 34 yards, to tie the game at 38 with 4:01 left in the game.

BYU needed one last response to the Pirates, boosted by quarterback Tanner Mangum re-entering the game despite a bad hamstring. The freshman added to his already legendary status with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that saw the Cougars get to the ECU nine-yard line. Algernon Brown capped the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run to give BYU a thrilling 45-38 win.

East Carolina has no time to dwell on this loss with the high octane offense of Tulsa heading to town next Saturday.