Oct. 29, 2011
GREENVILLE, N.C. - A strong second half, both offensively and defensively, vaulted East Carolina to a 34-13 victory over Tulane Saturday afternoon in front of an announced crowd of 49,410 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on the Pirates' homecoming.
Tulane (2-7, 1-4 C-USA) trailed 17-13 at halftime in the blustery Fall weather conditions, but ECU (4-4, 3-1 C-USA) managed two second-half touchdowns and a field goal and held the Green Wave scoreless to pull away with their third straight victory and send Tulane home with a sixth straight loss.
The Green Wave collected 178 yards on 33 plays in the opening two quarters, but was held to just 88 yards on 33 plays in the final two quarters. ECU gained 461 yards of total yards for the game, including 336 through the air.
"In a tight game in this environment against a quality team like East Carolina, you need to make the most of your chances," Tulane interim head coach Mark Hutson said. "We knew this would be a tough challenge because they weathered a tough non-conference schedule and they are hitting their stride.
"Defensively, we knew they would get their passing yards and we wanted to rally up and keep their receivers in front of the chains and tackle. We did that for the most part, but their quarterback had another outstanding game and made several plays with his feet. He was able to get loose on the some read-zone plays in the redzone and score. We need to correct this because we're going to see more read-zone offenses down the road. The defense made several stops inside the redzone and held them to field goals."
Orleans Darkwa once again provided the bulk of the offense for the Green Wave. The sophomore running back gained 89 yards on 15 carries and scored the only touchdown of the afternoon. He rattled off a long rush of 21 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry.
"I feel like we were able to execute early," Darkwa said. "We were able to drive and our defense forced a turnover. But when we got in the redzone, we needed to score more than three points. We need to score touchdowns when we get down there and make the most of our opportunities."
Freshman Robert Kelley added 31 yards on the ground on seven carries to go with his 111 kickoff return yards for 142 all-purpose yards, the seventh 100-plus yard game for the Tulane freshman.
ECU opened the scoring with a nine-play, 69-yard drive that resulted in a five-yard run by quarterback Dominique Davis on the team's second possession of the game with 7:59 remaining in the first quarter. The Pirates' drive started after Tulane kicker Cairo Santos' 48-yard field goal attempt went wide right.
Tulane got on the board with a 20-yard field goal by Santos that followed an ECU fumble recovered and returned by junior linebacker Trent Mackey to the Pirates' five-yard line.
"We had a pretty good game defensively," Mackey said. "We gave good effort and played hard, but just came up short."
The Green Wave then took the lead with a two-play, 47-yard drive that ended with a seven-yard run by Darkwa. Santos' extra point gave Tulane a 10-7 lead. The drive began after ECU's punter, Ben Ryan, managed only an 11-yard kick.
The Pirates retook the lead on the ensuing drive when Davis found Lance Lewis on a crossing route for a one-yard touchdown strike with 11:09 left in the second quarter.
Santos answered with his second of two field goals of the day, a 26-yarder with 5:48 left in the half, cutting the deficit to one, 14-13.
An ECU 35-yard field goal from the foot of Mike Barbour with 4:32 left in the second completed the scoring for the first half, giving the Pirates a 17-13 lead at the break.
Including that Barbour field goal, ECU outscored Tulane 20-0 the rest of the way.
Davis finished the game for the Pirates with 329 passing yards on 29 of 46 with one touchdown. He also added 43 yards on the ground with two touchdowns on eight carries.
Tulane will once against serve as the homecoming opponent next Saturday when they visit SMU in Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas for a 2 p.m. CT kickoff.