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Game No. 8: ECU 34, Tulane 13


Inside Game Day
Saturday, October 29, 2011

By Al Myatt

Not Mr. Perfect, but more than good enough

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

GREENVILLE — It seems like the less East Carolina's Dominique Davis tries to be perfect, the better he plays. Davis was not only effective with his arm on Saturday in a 34-13 homecoming win over Tulane, the senior quarterback helped beat the Green Wave with his feet.

He completed 29 of 46 passing attempts for 329 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Davis also ran eight times for a net of 43 yards with scoring runs of five and six yards.

"Some of it was designed plays by Lincoln (Riley, offensive coordinator)," said ECU coach Ruffin McNeill of Davis' rushing forays. "Some of it was Dominique trying to make a play."

Davis had a career-longest 29-yard run in the second quarter and passed for over 300 yards for the third straight time in ECU's three-game winning streak. He set NCAA records for consecutive completions in a 38-35 Pirates win at Navy last week.

Davis's 1-yard scoring pass to Lance Lewis completed a 75-yard drive with 11:09 left in the second quarter and put ECU ahead to stay at 14-10.

"I'm not trying to be Mr. Perfect anymore," Davis said. "I'm doing my job and that's it. I'm going out there with confidence and trusting myself, believing in myself and believing in my receivers to make the plays."

The Pirates improved to 4-4 overall and 3-1 in Conference USA going into an important Conference USA home game with Southern Miss on Saturday at 4 p.m.

ECU's air game was bolstered by some young receivers. Sophomore Reese Wiggins had five catches for 75 yards. Freshman Danny Webster had five receptions for 56 yards and sophomore Derrick Harris, younger brother of former Pirate star Dwayne Harris, had three catches for 15 yards.

"It wasn't a crisp win but wins aren't easy," Davis said. "It's very hard to win these days. You've got to keep grinding. Our front seven on defense and our O-line on offense did a great job of staying physical and staying the course. Reese Wiggins stepped up and Derrick Harris. We knew what (Harris) was capable of doing. He just needed his shot to get in."

Davis said the Pirates were motivated after getting to .500 after a 1-4 start.

"It just makes us more hungry," he said. "We've got a big conference game next week that we'll look forward to. We've got a 24-hour rule but after that we'll get ready for Southern Miss. ... A winning streak like we're on helps our motivation."

ECU trailed Southern Miss 20-0 last season but rallied for a 44-43 victory in Hattiesburg. Davis connected with Lewis on a pair of 46-yard touchdown passes in the comeback. Lewis had six catches for 39 yards and the go-ahead score against the Green Wave. Davis threw completions to 10 different receivers on Saturday going through his progressions and making accurate deliveries.

Lewis said the Pirates have matured.

"We're playing for the name on the front of our jersey (East Carolina) and not the name on the back (individual player names)," said the senior wide receiver, whose 22nd touchdown catch in his ECU career set a school record, surpassing Larry Shannon's 21 from 1994 to1997.

"We've really found our identity in just being excited and just playing for one another," Davis said.

Chilly day

Temperature at kickoff time was 43 degrees with 13 mile-per-hour winds out of the northwest. It was considerably cooler than home games earlier this season and served to thin out the crowd of 49,410, some of whom opted for watching the game in the comfort of their domiciles on WITN-TV 7.

Coach Ruffin McNeill said the wind was a factor in which way he opted to kick off. Davis said the conditions didn't really affect the players.

"On the field when you're playing, the weather is not really a factor," said the ECU quarterback. "The weather wasn't that bad today. If you're running around like that, you'll stay pretty warm."

Punting change

After Ben Ryan averaged just 17.5 yards on a pair of first-half punts, Australian punter Phillip McNaughton booted three times for the Pirates in the second half for an average of 41.7 yards.

"I take special teams very seriously," Coach McNeill said. "We work on special teams, probably more than anybody in the country, probably equal to what Coach (Frank) Beamer (Virginia Tech) does. That's probably from my special teams coordinator background. I believe the defensive coverage teams are there to give our defense great field position.

"Our offensive return teams are there to give our offense great field position. Are we there yet? No, but we're doing some positive things. We had two punts and we didn't give our defense very good field position. We had to give somebody else a chance to do it. We love Ben but we love McNaughton, too. He works as hard as Ben in practice so he deserved the opportunity.

"He came out and did a pretty good job."

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10/30/2011 03:36:58 AM


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