GREENVILLE — Tulane was limited to its lowest point total of the season but managed to edge offensively-challenged East Carolina for a 13-10 American Athletic Conference victory at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday.
A 26-yard field goal by Valentino Ambrosio 46 seconds into the fourth quarter accounted for the only points of the second half and provided the winning margin.
Ambrosio tied the score at 10 with a 21-yarder as the first half expired after a reprieve from video review had given the Green Wave one second. The teams had headed to the locker rooms and the marching band was ready to take the field for its halftime show when it was determined that Michael Pratt had thrown incomplete with one tick remaining.
ECU went for a 4th-and-6 at the Tulane 45 on its final series when Alex Flinn’s pass intended for Chase Sowell was broken up by Jarius Monroe. Sowell wanted a pass interference call. It appeared there was contact as Monroe reached around the receiver to make the deflection.
The Green Wave did not relinquish possession over the final 7:17, converting two third downs and a fourth down to keep the ball away from the Pirates.
“It had a chance to be a pretty special night,” said ECU coach Mike Houston after emerging from a grim postgame meeting with his team.
The Pirates slipped to 1-8 overall and 0-5 in league play. Tulane moved to 8-1 and 5-0.
East Carolina was held scoreless for the final 46 minutes and 13 seconds after generating some optimism among a crowd of a 33,765 by jumping out to a 10-0 lead.
Andrew Conrad had a 27-yard field goal to conclude ECU’s first series.
Gerald Green completed a 78-yard drive with a 1-yard carry as the lead grew to 10-0 with 1:47 left in the first quarter.
The Pirates had just 47 yards of offense the rest of the game.
“The defense making adjustments and getting farther into the game and just having that consistency, it’s a combination of those things,” said ECU quarterback Alex Flinn of the offensive lull.
Flinn said the Wave changed its coverage after the scoring drive, which included a 32-yard pass to Jsi Hatfield and a 22-yard gain to Sowell.
The Green Wave, ranked No 21 in the coaches and Associated Press polls this week, were No. 24 in the first College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday.
The defending AAC and Cotton Bowl champions were favored by 16.5 points but never approached the spread as ECU developed the 10-0 lead and relied on its defense to stay within striking distance of an upset.
“I appreciate the stadium tonight,” Houston said. “The students, the way they support our program. The fans. … Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium was rocking in the fourth quarter.”
Veteran Green Wave quarterback Michael Pratt cut the lead to 10-7 with 4:08 left in the first half on a 9-yard touchdown pass to Lawrence Keys III.
The Wave moved from its 35 for a 1st-and-goal at the ECU 3 at the close of the first half. A stand by the Pirates defense made the visitors settle for the tying boot by Ambrosio on fourth down.
Linebacker B.J. Davis was in on nine stops with five solo tackles to pace the ECU defenders.
Tulane led 368-190 in total yards and had a 38:12 to 21:48 advantage in possession time.
Neither team had a turnover.
Pratt completed 16 of 25 for 213 yards. Keys made three catches for 77 yards. Makhi Hughes ran 25 times for 105 yards for Tulane.
Rahjai Harris gained 52 yards on 13 rushes for the Pirates. Flinn completed 10 of 18 for 120 yards. Jaylen Johnson’s five catches totaled 40 yards. Rahjai Harris had 13 rushes for 52 yards.
ECU visits Florida Atlantic (4-5, 3-2) on Sat., Nov. 11, for a 4 p.m. kickoff (ESPN+).
“I’ve got a great bunch of kids,” Houston said. “They played their tails off. They prepared all week, very, very well. They came out very confident, very aggressive. They gave us a chance and that’s what makes it a tough one to swallow.”