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Howe provides 100-yard effort

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East Carolina's Hussein Howe heads to the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown run during the second quarter at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday night.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Tulane and East Carolina are both near the bottom of the college football rankings in run defense, which played out as expected Saturday night at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Both starting running backs had career games on a night when Tulane escaped with a 31-24 overtime win for its first-ever victory in Greenville. For the Pirates, that meant Hussein Howe running to the tune of 108 yards on 14 carries for the Pirates’ first 100-yard rusher this season.

Tulane got 189 yards from Dontrell Hilliard to spur a Green Wave total rushing advantage of 325-161 over slight underdog ECU (2-8, 1-5 American Athletic Conference), which also saw its sophomore starting running back from Jacksonville, Fla., make five receptions for 36 yards in his best game yet as a Pirate.

But it also came on a night that ended in crushing fashion, when freshman power back Darius Pinnix was stuffed just before the goal line on an inside run to end the game and give the Wave (4-6, 2-4 AAC) the OT win.

“The stats don’t matter if we lose,” Howe said of his performance, which included an average of 7.7 yards per rush. “It’s always a hard feeling losing a tough one like that in overtime, but I’m also proud of the way we fought out there today.”

Howe had four carries in OT with the hosts trailing 31-24. His helmet came off during the fourth rush, which resulted by rule in having to sit out a play, and he didn’t return to the field.

“We wanted to give it to our big back (Pinnix) and get it behind our offensive line because we felt like our line did a great job to that point running the ball with inside zone and outside zone,” Pirate coach Scottie Montgomery said of the final play.

Hilliard had Tulane on track for a win for most of regulation. He burst 60 yards to paydirt in the second quarter for a 14-7 lead, and his 26-yard scoring run late in the third created a 24-14 cushion.

ECU came in ranked 125th in the nation out of 130 in rush defense, and Tulane was 120th.

Tulane was on a four-game losing streak. During that streak, Hilliard averaged 72.75 ground yards per outing.

The Pirates were able to negate some of the rushing yards they gave up with turnovers on defense, including an interception by 6-foot-2, 299-pound interior lineman Jalen Price after a tip by fellow lineman Tyree Owens.

Saturday’s rushing total was the Pirates’ third-highest of the season. It also came a week after they ran 24 times for 36 yards in a blowout loss at Houston.

Hilliard’s 60-yard TD run up the middle in the second quarter was the 10th touchdown of at least 60 yards that East Carolina has allowed this season.

Howe posted a career-long run of 22 yards on ECU’s opening drive. He bested that in the second quarter with a 25-yard burst on which he stumbled inside the 10-yard line but kept his footing and got in for the score to tie the game at 14-14.

“That felt good,” he said. “The line opened a big hole up — it was a big crease — and I just went through it.”

Seldom-used Derrell Scott was in the Pirate backfield to start the third quarter and on third down he bounced to the outside for 27 yards for his career-long run and ECU’s longest of the night.

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

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