Pirates Win Season Opener Against Towson
Down by eight with 2:01 remaining in the game, Towson was faced with a fourth and seven and a chance to tie the game. Quarterback Conner Frazier threw a strike right into the hands of his receiver Sam Gallahan, but the ball was jarred loose by East Carolina safety Terrell Richardson. That proved to be the final chance for Towson as ECU converted a first down and took a knee to seal the 28-20 victory. Richardson’s hit on Gallahan saved the game, but the rushing attack, led by Chris Hairston, got ECU the production needed to win. Hairston finished the game with 154 yards rushing on 18 total carries and also scored all four ECU touchdowns. The first score came off a 45-yard scamper on the first drive of the game. The Pirates (1-0) got on the board early, scoring touchdowns on their first two drives. Full of bubble screens and read options, quarterback Blake Kemp got in a groove early in his first game as a Pirate. “I was a little nervous earlier in the week,” said Kemp. “I spoke with my dad about things and he was able to calm me down. It was a little bit too close for me, but it was fun and kept me into it. The run game, offensive line, they all played great. Love those guys up front and Chris did a great job pounding the rock.” Kemp finished the game 29-of-37 and tallied 230 yards. His longest pass coming on a 19-yard completion to Isaiah Jones in the middle of the field. Running the same style offense in junior college, Kemp felt comfortable in his first game in Greenville. “I thought Blake did a good job of running our offense and getting the ball to guys, getting us into the right play and I was really proud of how he handled the situation. It was a pretty big deal taking over this offense after the past two quarterbacks we had in it,” said head coach Ruffin McNeil. Towson scored on its first two drives of the game. its first score came off the arm of Connor Frazier, who threw a 30-yard strike to Brian Dowling in the end zone. The Tigers also capitalized on a field goal opportunity and were only down by four going into the half. The Towson offense was led by a strong performance by running back Darius Victor. The junior running back carried the ball 28 times and totaled 137 yards. McNeil knew that the Towson running back would be a threat coming into the game. “Victor is a rolling ball of butcher’s knives,” McNeil said. “He’s maybe 5-foot-6 maybe 227, 230 pounds. He’s done that against everyone.” Down 28-13 in the fourth quarter Towson’s offense would get back into the game, thanks to the duo of Frazier and Victor. Frazier capped off a 75-yard drive with a touchdown on a one-yard quarterback keeper. On their next possession they would threaten ECU again and have a chance to take the lead. In the end the deciding play of the game rested on the defenses shoulders, more specifically Richardson’s shoulder. After allowing scores on the first two drives, McNeil thought the settled down. “I thought early, after the last two drives, we settled down and started doing our jobs,” said McNeil. “Sometimes guys try to do too much, which I get happens, but the last drive speaks for itself.” ECU gained 440 yards with a balanced offensive attack. The historically pass-heavy offense totaled 37 pass attempts and 34 rushes.
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