Four Downs: BYU

ECU fell at the hands of BYU Saturday night in Utah. The 45-38 loss puts the Pirates at 3-3 on the season. Here are my four downs from ECU's final non-conference game of the season.

FIRST DOWN: MANGUM WILLS TEAM TO VICTORY

Just when the game looked all but over for BYU — the Pirates had just tied the game at 38 late in the third and the Cougar offense had no answer with freshman Beau Hoge behind center — Tanner Mangum hobbled back out onto the field for one final gasp.

What happened next just might put Mangum in BYU lore. A 10-play, 75-yard drive, chewing up 3:42 of the final four minutes to cement the Cougar victory effectively ended East Carolina’s chances of stealing a big, road victory. Mangum, a freshman who spent two years doing mission trips before suiting for the Cougars, had injured his leg on a slide during the third quarter. Up to that point the BYU offense was rolling, Mangum was picking apart the Pirate secondary and the Cougars, up by 17, looked likely to cruise to a victory.

The wonky leg inhibited the effort and after a series of ineffective drives, including an ugly and costly interception by Hoge, Mangum with his team robbed of all momentum and the lead, brought them back from the jaws of defeat.

It was a gutsy performance, if ever I’ve seen one. It perhaps personified Mangum’s season — two Hail Mary touchdown wins, replacing Heisman hopeful Taysom Hill, all while clearly inserting himself as the catalyst of the team.

He finished the game 24-of-33 with 332 yards and three touchdowns. Few doubted if he’d enter the game, and for all we know one hit by an ECU defender on the final drive could’ve made matter worse. It was certainly a risk taken by BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall but it paid off in the form of 45-38 win.

SECOND DOWN: SUMMERS FAILS TO GRAB JOB, KEMP BACK IN THE BATTLE

Here we go again. Just when it looked like a fine performance by James Summers could’ve potentially won him the starting quarterback job, things only became more unclear thanks to his struggles.

His worst outing of the season, just 69 total yards and 2-of-6 passing, put him on the bench late in the second quarter. Enter the almost-forgotten, fellow-JUCO Blake Kemp.

Kemp, the less dynamic of the two, orchestrated an impressive two-minute drill drive late in the half and kept the Pirates within one score going into the half. From there, it was his game to lose. Kemp finished 28-of-36 with 371 yards and two touchdowns in just over two quarters of action. It resembled that of a prototypical ECU quarterback and effectively inserted him back into the conversation.

In what was once viewed as inevitable — the more athletic, dynamic and dangerous Summers would take a stranglehold on the job thanks to his running ability — Kemp raised the question as to whether or not the answer is nearly so arbitrary.

We all know less about the position now than we did going into the game.

THIRD DOWN: ECU SECONDARY OVERMATCHED, OUTWORKED

It was the matchup to watch going into the game. ECU’s injury-plagued secondary versus BYU’s tall, strong receivers.

The Cougars’ 341 yards through the air should tell the tale.

With safety Bobby Fulp forced to play corner thanks to injuries to Rocco Scarfone and Corey Seargent, BYU knew that the secondary would be vulnerable. The Cougars took advantage of it early and often and started keying in on senior cornerback Josh Hawkins.

Hawkins finished with a team-leading nine tackles on the day, which isn’t necessarily encouraging for a corner. Matched up with 6-foot-6 receiver Mitch Matthews for a majority of the night, the smaller Hawkins was picked on from the opening drive. Matthews finished with 72 receiving yards on the night and the Cougars attempted deep ball after deep ball, often times with success thanks to its size on the outside.

Even on the final drive, with Mangum moving the ball at will, ECU’s secondary failed to make any kind of a statement and Cougar receivers had plenty of space to navigate.

Defensive coordinator and secondary coach Rick Smith won’t be happy with his group’s performance in this game. Nine different BYU receivers hauled in a pass and it cost them in the end.

FOURTH DOWN: ECU RECEIVERS DO DAMAGE OF THEIR OWN

Don’t let the BYU receiving core totally overshadow ECU’s. The Pirates had six receivers of their own end up on the stat sheet and they collectively hauled in 385 yards worth of passes.

Even for a school accustomed to such impressive receiving performances, the one put up in Provo, Utah Saturday night should not go unnoticed. Isaiah Jones was his usual self, bringing in 10 passes for 95 yards and a late score. Trevon Brown flashed his explosiveness from the get-go and became Kemp’s favorite target. He finished with six receptions, 84 yards and a score. Bryce Williams, taking on more of a slot role thanks to Jimmy Williams’ injury, had a five-reception, 87-yard night.

BYU’s defense is no slouch, either. Also take into account the necessity for a successful air attack following the early deficit, and the Pirates receiving performance stands out as a highlight in a tough loss.

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