Rentschler Field | East Hartford, CT | Attendance: 23,168 | TV: ESPNU

UConn 31, ECU 13 | Inside Game Day | Photo Gallery... | Post-game Audio...

>>>  AAC SCOREBOARD  >>> ..... Friday: UConn 31, ECU 13 ..... ..... Saturday: Cincinnati 52, UCF 7 ..... Navy 29, USF 17 ..... Tulsa 40, SMU 31 ..... Houston 34, Vanderbilt 0 ..... Memphis 41, Tulane 13 ..... Notre Dame 24, Temple 20 ..... .....

Inside Game Day
Friday, October 30, 2015

By Al Myatt

Friday night loss hard to figure

ECU running backs coach and special teams coordinator Kirk Doll is in deep thought before Friday night's American Athletic Conference game at Connecticut. (Al Myatt's photo gallery...)


Ruff Post-game Audio

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill spoke with reporters after the Pirates' loss to AAC East foe Connecticut (recorded by Al Myatt; file photo): Select audio clip...


Kevin's Keys to the Game

The East Carolina Pirates come into today's American Athletic Conference game at 4-4 while the Connecticut Huskies are 3-4. Both teams are well into their conference schedules and are in desperate need of an AAC win after coming off league losses. ... More from Kevin Monroe...



'Play the next play'

Al Myatt

It was not a happy group of East Carolina football players that left Bagwell Field after a 24-14 loss to No. 21 Temple Thursday night. The Pirate supporters among a crowd of 39,417 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium were frustrated, too. ... More from Al Myatt...



AAC hoops has its day

ORLANDO, FL The three-year-old American Athletic Conference continues to make a name for itself. The league currently has three of the Football Bowl Subdivision's unbeaten football teams.

Houston, Memphis and Temple are all 7-0. The Tigers are ranked No. 16 by the Associated Press, the Cougars are No. 18 and the Owls are No. 21 going into a high profile matchup on Saturday in Philadelphia with Notre Dame.

As good as its going on the gridiron, the AAC has been even better in basketball. ... Story, pictures & audio from Al Myatt...

Pictured: The American Athletic Conference basketball championship trophy was on display at the league's media day on Tuesday at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL. (Photo by Al Myatt; more pictures on this page...)

Media Day Audio Clips

ECU coach Jeff Lebo, AAC commissioner Mike Aresco & ECU senior guard Prince Williams...


Ruff & Co. 'chopping wood'

The East Carolina football season is down to four games. There have been plenty of highs and probably just as many lows for this ECU team, which stands at 4-4 heading to the final month. ... More from Brian Bailey...

Audio: Ruff Weekly Presser

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

Audio: The Brian Bailey Show

The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Brian's guests this week were WNCN sportscaster Todd Gibson (left) and Fayetteville Observer sportswriter Sammy Batten (right): Replay show...


By Al Myatt
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Game Day Photo Gallery...

Audio: Coach Ruff postgame...

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EAST HARTFORD, CT What happened to East Carolina at Connecticut on Friday night?

Maybe the loss to Temple beat the Pirates again.

Coach Ruffin McNeill acknowledged that the physicality of last Thursday night's 24-14 home setback was a factor going forward.

Perhaps the loss to the Owls took away confidence and left ECU flat.

Maybe the incentive to win the American Athletic Conference East Division was missing.

Connecticut, quarterbacked by N.C. State transfer Bryant Shirreffs, was ready to seize the opportunities that the Pirates presented, including four interceptions.

Maybe it was too cold for ECU to play its best. Maybe the role of the underdog inspired the Huskies, as it has so many times for the Pirates.

ECU's game-long search for offense led to a 31-13 loss to the Huskies at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field.

The offense struggled to overcome penalties and turnovers. The defense gave up big plays, like a 90-yard touchdown run by Arkeel Newsome, who carried 25 times for 179 yards with two scores.

UConn converted seven of 14 first downs. The Pirates converted five of 15. ECU went for it three times on fourth down and was successful once.

There was little to sugar coat a decisive defeat from a team that came in at 3-5 on the season and 1-3 in the league.

ECU (4-5, 2-3) even had the extra point blocked after its first touchdown.

The question going forward is whether the Pirate ship is taking on water and sinking or are the season and a bowl trip salvageable?

ECU needs to win two of its four remaining games to become eligible for a postseason trip.

McNeill cited the value of being home next Saturday (7:30 p.m. vs. South Florida) in terms of having a routine game week for a change.

This wasn't Florida, Navy, Brigham Young or Temple, who have a combined 24-4 record with losses to some nationally-elite teams. UConn had lost five of its last six, but the Huskies played great in some new gray uniforms.

The Pirates showed some life in completing a 49-yard drive with a 2-yard scoring run by Blake Kemp to pull within 24-13 with 9:25 left in the game.

UConn answered with a 66-yard scoring march capped by a 3-yard run by Shirreffs, who was flipped into the end zone by the Pirate pursuit.

The Pirates were in trouble after a 23-yard scoring pass by Shirreffs to tight end Alec Bloom gave the Huskies a 17-6 lead with 3:38 left in the third quarter.

Going into the fourth quarter, ECU's offense had not scored a point since late in the first half of the preceding game against Temple. The Pirates played James Summers most of the way at quarterback at UConn until Kemp came in late.

Summers ran and came up short on a fourth down that preceded UConn's Shirreffs to Bloom scoring connection.

UConn muffed a punt catch but recovered at its own 10 and went ahead 24-6 on the next play, the 90-yard touchdown run by Newsome with 1:51 left in the third quarter.

When Kemp came in late in the third quarter, the problems continued as his second pass was picked off. Kemp finished seven for 11 for 50 yards with three picks.

Summers was 12 for 21 for 87 yards with one interception.

"Definitely, lack of execution," Summers said. " ... You can only get better. Getting worse is not an option. ... We've got to stick together. The team knows that and we're going to get better. We've got to get better."

Summers didn't totally slight UConn's role in the stunning outcome.

"They played well," said the Pirates quarterback. "They played fast out there on the field. They're well-disciplined. When you're disciplined and know your spot, you're already there."

One bright spot was the return of Marquez Grayson, who ran nine times for 87 yards for ECU. Chris Hairston had 12 carries for 67 yards.

Isaiah Jones led the receivers with nine catches for 85 yards.

The Huskies led 10-6 at the half. The Pirates took the initial lead on a 32-yard interception return by DaShawn Amos with 5:15 left in the first quarter.

Bobby Plowman's extra-point attempt was blocked.

UConn got within 6-3 with 22 seconds left in the opening period as Bobby Puyol hit a 45-yard field goal.

The Huskies drove 94 yards in 12 plays to take the lead on a 2-yard carry by Newsome with 7:44 remaining in the half after a pass interference call on the Pirates' Josh Hawkins moved the ball from the ECU 10-yard line to the Pirates 2.

The Pirates had a 157-138 lead in total yardage in the first 30 minutes. The Huskies led 404-340 for the game.

"The first half I thought we needed some answers from our offense," McNeill said. "I thought our defense played extremely well in the first half."

Matters obviously got out of hand for ECU in the second half.

"You can't turn the ball over," McNeill said. "I thought we had some opportunities for some makes there early."

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11/01/2015 12:27:02 AM