ECU 34, Tulane 6

GREENVILLE, N.C. — ECU (7-3, 4-2 AAC) bounced back from consecutive road losses to defeat the Tulane Green Wave (3-8, 2-5 AAC) 34-6 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

With Isaiah Jones’ 4-yard touchdown catch at the end of the first quarter, East Carolina had all the points it needed to close out the Tulane Green Wave Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The defense gave up only six points and the Pirates coasted to a 34-6 victory.

After starting the game with a field goal, ECU drove 90 yards in 10 plays to cap off its first touchdown with a 4-yard completion to Jones for the walk-in score. With the victory, ECU snapped a two-game losing streak and notched its seventh win of the season, improving its record to 7-3 with two games remaining in the regular season.

ECU’s standout offensive players continued their storied careers as quarterback Shane Carden threw for 358 yards on 31 of 44 passing, which included his touchdown strike to Jones. Wide receiver Justin Hardy caught nine passes for 104 yards, giving him 89 catches this season and an FBS-record 355 for his career.

The Pirate defense came to play as they held the Green Wave to just 24 yards on the ground and kept Tulane out of the end zone for the duration.

As a team, this is the first time ECU has kept an opponent from reaching pay dirt since 2008 when it defeated West Virginia, 24-3. But the Pirate defense, specifically, pitched a shutout against N.C. Central in the opening game, but a scoop and score fumble recovery gave the Eagles a touchdown to show.

“That’s big for our defense,” said senior linebacker Brandon Williams, who had 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks for the Pirate defense. “Just holding them to two field goals gave our defensive momentum by stopping them and knowing they couldn’t get in the end zone.”

The 34-6 victory by the Pirates extends ECU’s record in the overall series against Tulane to 11-3. The Green Wave has never won in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium as they have lost all eight contests in Greenville.

ECU blitzed Tulane considerably on second down throughout the game and Green Wave quarterback Tanner Lee was off balance because of the pressure. The freshman completed 58 percent of his passes (25 of 43), was picked off once and sacked four times. The Pirates only garnered one interception, but numerous were left on the field.

“It felt great because that was something we worked on,” said linebacker Zeek Bigger, who registered 10 tackles Saturday evening. “We tried to make him throw bad passes and make bad plays, which he did and we didn’t [capitalize] on some like we should. I was one of them on two of his throws.”

Bigger notched his sixth game with double-digit tackles this season. ECU forced seven punts by Tulane and held the Green Wave to a dismal 5 of 18 on third down.

“That was a great performance by our guys,” said Head Coach Ruffin McNeill. “They just kept stepping up and playing good football…our kids battled and found a way to get it done.”

A stumbling block for the Pirates for much of the season has been the battle against penalties. Tonight ECU only committed five penalties for 40 yards, which is much like its last game against Cincinnati where Ruffin McNeill’s team had five for 38. Also, the kicking game stepped in and contributed a perfect effort as Warren Harvey knocked in both of his field goal attempts, as well as his four extra points.

On the ground the Pirates racked up 139 yards between five different players. Breon Allen had 74 yards and a touchdown and Marquez Grayson chipped in 39 yards and a 7-yard scamper midway through the fourth quarter. Grayson, the redshirt freshman running back, has scored a touchdown in three straight games and four of the last five for ECU.

While the game was somewhat overshadowed by Hardy breaking the FBS receptions record, fellow wide receiver Cam Worthy had another superb game as he caught seven passes for 115 yards. It is his fourth 100+ yard performance this season.

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