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UCF-ECU: Three answers

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East Carolina fans cheer in the stands during a game against UCF at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, October 21, 2018

These three questions appeared in The Daily Reflector’s Pirate Gameday section previewing East Carolina’s home football game against 10th-ranked Central Florida, which ended with UCF pulling away for a 37-10 victory on homecoming night at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Here are the answers, and more insight from the game.

1. Who wins the turnover battle? This was the deciding factor in the game. UCF forced five turnovers, while producing a turnover-free night on offense for the Knights to stay undefeated. UCF had a redshirt freshman, Darriel Mack, surprisingly play the entire game at quarterback and he wasn’t asked to do much, but was mostly smooth and calm in engineering the offense. Three of ECU’s final four offensive possessions resulted in three straight fumbles and then a turnover on downs. Freshman quarterback Holton Ahlers’ lost fumble came early in the fourth quarter and on the UCF 1-yard line when the Knights led 23-10. It provided a good teaching moment for Ahlers on ball security and decision-making, but it also was a critical one in the Pirates’ bid for an upset win.

2. How is the atmosphere? It was much better than last week, and especially loud early in the game when East Carolina got off to a fast start and had early momentum. The announced attendance was 31,159. A week earlier in a similar night-game situation, but Ahlers not starting at QB and Houston not ranked, the attendance was 29,851 for ECU’s game against the Cougars played during a dud environment. That was mostly not the case for the UCF-ECU matchup.

3. What is the score at the end of the first quarter? ECU led 3-0, which was a positive for the Pirates after they trailed 14-0 in each of the previous two games. UCF finished with four three-and-outs on offense, two of which came during its first three drives. But UCF then took control of the game with a 20-0 second quarter and it never looked back, holding off the Pirates’ comeback attempt during the second half. East Carolina was overmatched against a top-10 opponent, but leading at the end of the first quarter stopped a recent slow-start trend and was a good sign for the Pirates.

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

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