Saturday, November 30, 2019

ECU Closes Out 2019 Season With Loss to Tulsa on Senior Day

GREENVILLE – It was Senior Day at ECU on Saturday afternoon. The hometown Pirates were graduating fifteen players in Coach Mike Houston’s first season at the helm. It was not the goodbye that the home team was hoping for as the visiting Tulsa Golden Hurricane amassed 669 total yards on their way to a 49-24 defeat of the Pirates.

After ECU punted on their first possession, Tulsa responded immediately with a 64-yard Shamari Brooks run to get the Golden Hurricane in the red zone. The Pirates defense stiffened up and eventually stuffed Tulsa on a fourth down and one for a loss of four yards. The ECU offense couldn’t take advantage of the momentum, though, and punted it back to the visitors.

It took until ECU’s fourth drive of the game before they found any momentum offensively. Utilizing a series of Ahlers tosses and Demetrius Mauney runs, the Pirates were able to break open the scoring with a 51-yard field goal. Tulsa immediately responded when Zach Smith found Sam Crawford, who raced sixty-six yards down the right sideline to retake the lead and awaken the Golden Hurricane offense.

Tulsa added two more Zach Smith touchdowns in the first half, one a 29-yard pass to Keylon Stokes and the other a four-yard toss to Keenen Johnson. The Johnson touchdown was particularly heartbreaking for the ECU faithful as it was the exclamation point on ten-play, ninety-two-yard drive. The seventeen-point margin carried into the second half.

ECU thought they had turned the momentum when Davondre Robinson picked off a Tulsa pass on the third play of the half, but a Pirate fumble on the ensuing play gave the ball right back to the Golden Hurricane. Four plays later, Tulsa freshman running back TK Wilkerson scooted in from ten yards out and the home team found themselves facing a four-score deficit for the first time in over a month.

Ahlers and the Pirates finally found pay dirt midway through the third quarter, capping a twelve play, seventy-five-yard drive with a three-yard pass to Blake Proehl in the back corner of the end zone. It was the first of two scoring passes on the day for the sophomore signal-caller. Keylon Stokes forty-one-yard kickoff return helped Tulsa get back in scoring position quickly and when Zach Smith connected with Shamari Brooks for his fourth touchdown of the day, it was out of reach for the Pirates.

Notable North Carolinians
Holton Ahlers (Conley) – the sophomore threw for three scores and led the team in rushing
CJ Johnson (Conley) – the receiving half of the “Conley Connection” amasses 141 yards on six catches and one touchdown
Blake Proehl (Providence) – the sophomore receiver from Charlotte scored two touchdowns on the day

Noteworthy notes
After a run of six straight ECU wins in the series since 2008, Tulsa has now won the last two games between the two AAC foes.
The winning team in this series has scored at least 44 points in six of the last seven games in the series.
Tulsa quarterback Zach Smith was 21- of 30 on the day for 331 yards and five touchdowns. This was part of a very balanced attack for the Golden Hurricane who rushed for 338 yards.

Next Week
Both teams’ seasons are complete, and they will finish with matching 4-8 records.