Homecoming | Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium | Attendance: 43,065 | TV: ESPNN

ECU 30, Tulsa 17 | Inside Game Day | Photo Gallery... | Post-game Audio...

>>>  AAC SCOREBOARD  >>> ..... Friday: BYU 38, Cincinnati 24 ..... Houston 42, Tulane 7 ..... ..... Saturday: USF 28, UConn 20 ..... ECU 30, Tulsa 17 ..... Memphis 37, Ole Miss 24 ..... Temple 30, UCF 16 ..... .....

Inside Game Day
Saturday, October 17, 2015

By Al Myatt

Ball 'Hawk' boosts Pirates

East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill embraces former players Justin Hardy, left, and Lamar Ivey after the Pirates' Homecoming win over Tulsa on Saturday. (W.A. Myatt's photo gallery...)


Post-game Audio

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill spoke with reporters after the Pirates' Homecoming win over Tulsa on Saturday (recorded by Al Myatt; file photo): Select audio clip...


Kevin's Keys to the Game

East Carolina comes into today's American Athletic Conference contest with Tulsa at 3-3, while the Golden Hurricane has a 3-2 record. The Pirates are 1-1 in the AAC and Tulsa is 0-1, making this a pivotal game for both both teams in terms of their conference championship ambitions. ... More from Kevin Monroe...



Home sweet Homecoming for Pirates

Al MyattHomecoming at East Carolina is a party that will attract around 50,000 guests. ECU coach Ruffin McNeill is in charge of the entertainment. McNeill and the late Ed Emory are former Pirate players who have gone on to become head coaches at their alma mater ... More from Al Myatt...



ESPN stumbling into uncertain future

ESPN's ascent to juggernaut status in sports media may have reached its pinnacle and begun its decent. Demographic, technological and competitive forces are eating away at the network's core revenues ... More from Danny Whitford...



So, this IS a 2-quarterback system

Against Southern Methodist and Virginia Tech it was James Summers that played the leading role. Many weren’t buying into Coach Ruffin McNeill’s ‘two-quarterback’ system. ... More from Brian Bailey...

Audio: Ruff Weekly Presser

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill met with reporters on Monday for his weekly press conference. (Audio courtesy of Pirate Radio 1250; archive photo): Select audio clip...

View Pirate Radio 1250 Programming Lineup

Audio: The Brian Bailey Show

The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Brian's guest this week was ECU OLB coach Duane Price (right): Replay show...

View Pirate Radio 1250 Programming Lineup


Greg Vacek's Monday Infographic



Brigham Young outlasted East Carolina, 45-38, Saturday evening before a crowd of 60,186 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. BYU freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum, who rallied the Cougars to dramatic victories over Nebraska and Boise State to start the season, again delivered late-game heroics ... Details and data from Greg Vacek...


By Al Myatt
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Game Day Photo Gallery...

Audio: Coach Ruff postgame...

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GREENVILLE — Everything seemed to feed off one game-changing play in East Carolina's 30-17 American Athletic Conference football win over Tulsa on Homecoming Saturday.

The Golden Hurricane was moving the ball as advertised after taking the opening kickoff and traversing from their 19 to the ECU 12 over the manicured turf of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Tulsa came in averaging 568 yards of total offense and 36.6 points per game.

Coach Phillip Montgomery's first-year team had not been playing weak sisters either. They piled up 603 yards of offense in a 52-38 loss at Oklahoma the third game of the season.

The Golden Hurricane wanted their offense on the field as quickly as possible. They became only the fourth ECU opponent in the last 44 games to receive the opening kickoff.

The first four minutes and 14 seconds made it look like the Pirates might have to match the visitors in an offensive showdown.

Then senior corner Josh Hawkins changed the flow. He intercepted Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans in the end zone.

Hawkins wasn't content to take a touchback and give the ECU offense the ball at its 20. Hawkins saw a lot of the green grass that the Pirates had conceded as Tulsa converted twice on third down and once on fourth down on the first series.

Being a former running back of some note – Hawkins led Forsyth County in rushing as a senior at Glenn before walking on at ECU – he began a sprint upfield. He semi-hurdled a sliding Tulsa tackling attempt at the ECU 20 and the defense quickly formed an escort at midfield.

"It was fun seeing the defense block," said Fred Presley of the defensive front.

"He reverted," said Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill of Hawkins' dormant skills. "He started pointing out for his blockers."

Hawkins took his ninth career pick 100 yards to the house to the delight of most of the 43,065 paid attendance.

Before starting quarterback Blake Kemp took the field, ECU had a 7-0 advantage when it looked like the left-hander might have to lead the Pirates back from an early deficit.

"That was like Christmas," Kemp said. "That takes a lot of pressure off the offense."

While ECU and Pirate Nation were amped, there was a perceptible deflation on the north sideline.

"It affected us, no doubt," Montgomery said. "Anytime you have that type of momentum swing. ... We had a great drive going in there. ... That almost put us into a deep coma until the fourth (quarter) when we finally got a couple of things going."

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By the time Tulsa avoided a shutout, the Pirates had made ample use of their two-quarterback system.

Kemp completed eight of 12 passes for 78 yards, the bulk of it on a 90-yard drive that produced a 24-yard field goal by Davis Plowman for a 10-0 lead.

James Summers came in during the second quarter and was 11 of 16 for 127 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Summers ran 12 times for 44 yards with a 6-yard carry for a score after Evans was sacked at his own 4-yard line on a desperation fourth down conversion attempt with 2:08 to go.

Hawkins led off a day on which the defense had the offense's back. ECU converted just four of 15 third downs.

Plowman contributed 12 points, including a career-long 41-yard field goal.

Senior Chris Hairston had 18 carries for 82 yards and caught a scoring pass from Summers.

Senior mike linebacker Zeek Bigger was in on 13 tackles after shedding the padded cast he had been wearing to protect a broken thumb.

"My last Homecoming," Bigger noted.

It was a feel-good afternoon for the most part. McNeill was not sure how seriously defensive lineman Demetri McGill might have been hurt when he was helped off the field as the Pirates coach met with media following ECU's 10th straight homecoming win.

McNeill said his eyeballs might start sweating when he talked about all the former players who had come back for the occasion. McNeill said he checked in with his former Pirate coach, Pat Dye, and Pat Dye Jr., this week.

The tone will soon change for ECU in preparation for a Thursday night matchup with Temple at home, but the Pirates had fun in the sun on Saturday.

First-year ECU offensive coordinator Dave Nichol called a play in the second quarter that looked like it could have come out of former OC Lincoln Riley's bag of tricks.

Summers lateralled to Jones, who spun and threw a spiral downfield that Davon Grayson latched onto for a 34-yard gain to the Tulsa 33.

"Maybe we need three quarterbacks," Jones said with a smile.

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10/18/2015 01:54:54 PM