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Defense drives big momentum shift

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BYU's KJ Hall is brought down by ECU safety Korrin Wiggins on Saturday night at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Things have gotten away from East Carolina during the third quarter of football games this season.

Not against BYU, which came from Provo, Utah, to Greenville as nearly a touchdown favorite and left a 33-17 loser to the Pirates during homecoming night for a positive boost for the Pirates to take into their bye week.

The home team’s much-maligned defense played a huge role in the third quarter, which saw ECU turn a 10-10 halftime score into a 19-10 lead. It became a decisive 26-10 advantage for the Pirates (2-6) early in the fourth.

BYU (1-7) had three offensive drives start in the third quarter — they ended in a punt, missed field goal and another punt.

The Pirates, on the other hand, connected on Jake Verity field goals in each of their three turns with the ball in the third.

“The best motivation on the field can be when the offense goes out there and does their job — gets a field goal or anything — and we know that this (defensive) stop can be a game-changer,” said linebacker Aaron Ramseur, a redshirt freshman who continued his mid-season emergence and led the Pirates with 12 total tackles. “It always feels good when you are playing for a reason.”

East Carolina was outscored by a total of 103-45 during the third quarter of its first seven games this season.

After Verity’s 42-yard FG to open the second-half scoring against the struggling Cougs, ECU’s defense forced a three-and-out. The big play was a sack by Colby Gore on a cornerback blitz on second-and-7 for a loss of 8 yards.

The Cougars’ second offensive drive featured a 46-yard pass play, but ECU’s defense stood strong in its own territory from there and a 41-yard field goal sailed wide left to hold a 16-10 lead.

“I think we knew we wanted to put on a show for our fans,” Gore said. “We were trying to keep things going, so they would be into it more. I think there was a lot of that, and just excitement and energy. It was exciting.”

The teams exchanged blows evenly during the first half. ECU held a 195-153 edge in total yards at halftime, but it grew to a 331-215 advantage after three quarters.

BYU finished with a 421-413 final edge thanks to late yardage while the Pirates were salting away the time remaining.

Ramseur was complemented by Jordan Williams and Devon Sutton with 10 tackles apiece. Linebacker Cannon Gibbs had ECU’s lone turnover forced with an interception during the fourth quarter.

“I thought we were a little more aggressive at corner, which is something I’ve been wanting to see,” ECU coach Scottie Montgomery said. “I want us to make plays on the ball and play the ball a lot better, more than just playing the man and letting the guy make plays on us.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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