Bonesville Mobile (Alpha Rev. 1.2a*)

Smartphone Home  |  Laptop/Desktop Home

Inside Game Day
Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014

By Al Myatt

Owls become Temple of Doom

Al Myatt
2014 Bonesville.net
All rights reserved.

Ruff Post-game Audio...

PHILADELPHIA The statistics told a convoluted tale after 60 minutes of college football at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, on Saturday.

When East Carolina outgains an opponent 432 to 135 in total yardage, the assumption would be that the Pirates won handily.

Turnovers and penalties dictated a different result as Temple stunned ECU 20-10 in an American Athletic Conference football game.

The Pirates fumbled seven times on a cold and rainy afternoon, losing five.

When the yellow flags were totaled up, ECU had 12 for 120 yards. When the Pirates were set to go for a fourth-and-one at the Owls 35 on their first possession, an illegal procedure moved the ball back five yards and ECU decided to punt.

The Pirates were moving the ball again on the second series, having driven from their 45 to the Temple 24 when an ECU fumble was returned 63 yards for a touchdown by Tavon Young as the Owls took a 7-0 lead with 7:20 left in the first quarter.

The play set a tone. Temple (5-3, 3-2 AAC) came into the game having generated 19 turnovers, which ranked ninth in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The scoop six put the hosts in their comfort zone as much as the brisk conditions.

"You don't want to fall behind on the road, even though we have at times," said Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill. "Sometimes that ball takes a funny bounce. Instead of being down, it popped out of the first defender's hands."

One need only to think back to the 17-7 deficit at South Florida at halftime to figure that ECU was still in it even after the Owls went ahead 14-0 after recovering Breon Allen's second lost fumble at the Pirates' 40.

A personal foul penalty on ECU boosted Temple's second touchdown drive.

ECU managed to avoid a scoreless first half as Warren Harvey kicked a 39-yard field goal with 5:20 left to cut Temple's lead to 14-3. The Pirates had to settle for three after driving from their 17 to the Temple 20 where a chop block infraction created a first-and-23.

The ECU defense went three and out before the Pirates drove again from their nine to the Temple 30 before Chris Hairston lost a fumble.

Hairston ran 21 times for 153 yards, getting more work than customary after Allen's fumbles.

"We haven't played in these conditions all season," Hairston said. "This was the first time. The ball was a little more slippery than it usually is, but that's no excuse. We still have to protect the ball. ... When you got into the pile, they were all ripping the ball, trying to get it out. Every play. ... Our coaches emphasize ball security a lot. You still have to hold on to the ball with two hands in traffic."

The Owls blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt by the Pirates after ECU had driven 57 yards on its first series of the second half. Temple used a pass interference penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction on the same play to move from the ECU 27 to the Pirates' 7 on their third scoring drive. A 2-yard scoring run by Kenneth Harper pushed the Owls' led to 20-3 with 4:36 left in the third.

The chance for a comeback, such as the one that produced a 28-17 win at USF, was diminishing.

A holding call negated a first down at the ECU 40 on the Pirates' next possession. ECU closed within 20-10 with 2:15 remaining on a 2-yard run by Marquez Grayson but the ensuing onside kick was unsuccessful.

"We didn't play Pirate football," said mike linebacker Zeek Bigger, who came into the game as the AAC leader in tackles. "We'll go home and get ready for our next game."

ECU quarterback Shane Carden completed 24 of 41 passes for 217 yards.

"They handled the weather better than we did," Carden said. "The ball was slicker in the first half because it was raining harder. ... We just had too many negative plays that hurt us."

The Pirates have outgained every opponent this season, including host South Carolina (453-441) in ECU's only previous loss (33-23) on Sept. 6.

ECU (6-2, 3-1 AAC) visits Cincinnati (5-3, 3-1) in a key league game on Thursday, Nov.13, at 7 p.m. (ESPN2). That will be at Paul Brown Stadium, ECU's third NFL venue this season, as the Bearcats' campus facility, Nippert Stadium, is being renovated. McNeill said the Pirates would take a break and return to practice Wednesday after meeting today.

The ECU coach said the program is following a predetermined schedule in its preparation for an ESPN-driven slate that still includes a Friday game at Tulsa (Nov. 28) and a Thursday night home game with Central Florida on Dec. 4. The Pirates have one traditional Saturday date remaining at home with Tulane on Nov. 22.

While a month in the national rankings likely will come to an end, the Pirates still control their fate in the AAC championship picture. Connecticut's 37-29 win over UCF leaves no unbeaten teams in the league.

The conference race has always been the focus.

"Like I told the team, I don't coach for rankings and never have," McNeill said. "We have a vision and a goal. I'm pleased with (the rankings) but we could never control how we're chosen.

"The season is not over. That's the first thing you have to tell kids. We have games left and we can still accomplish a lot."

McNeill said the loss would present opportunities for teaching as game tape is evaluated and the Pirates go forward.

E-mail Al Myatt.

PAGE UPDATED 10/20/15 04:04 AM.

Copyright Bonesville.net. All rights reserved. No content on this site may be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in any fashion without explicit written permission from the editor. Information from Bonesville staff members, East Carolina University, the American Athletic Conference and other sources were used in composing and/or compiling the articles and data on this site. This site is editorially independent and is not affiliated with East Carolina University or the American Athletic Conference. View Bonesville.net's privacy policy. For advertising or other information, e-mail editor@bonesville.net. *You are viewing an alpha version of Bonesville Mobile. You may view this trial version of Bonesville Mobile at no charge. After alpha and beta testing are completed, a subscription version of Bonesville Mobile will be available at a nominal price. The business model of Bonesville Mobile contemplates the incorporation of minimal and non-obtrusive advertising.