These three questions were part of preview coverage for the East Carolina-Tulsa game. ECU lost 34-30 in the final minute late Friday night for a difficult loss for the Pirates (1-4, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) amid controversial moments. The AAC followed Saturday with a release acknowledging an officiating error on a replay review that should have confirmed an ECU fumble recovery.
Here are the answers to three questions:
1. ECU run-pass ratio?
The Pirates had significant and effective balance, especially during the first half. They finished the game with 50 pass attempts and 28 rushes, and a 456-428 edge in total yards.
Quarterback Holton Ahlers and running back Rahjai Harris (21 carries) again thrived to keep the opposing defense off balance. Ahlers was 38-for-50 for 330 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Harris rushed for 118 yards and had a go-ahead TD reception in the fourth quarter on a fourth down, making it 30-27 Pirates.
Most statistics were overshadowed, however, by Tulsa’s game-winning drive, after the Harris TD, that featured a late pass interference flag thrown on a fourth down incomplete pass, a fumble recovery by ECU reversed after replay review and a questionable sliding fourth-down reception confirmed after a review.
Saturday’s release by the league included this clarification on the fumble: “After reviewing the video of the play, the conference has determined that the judgment of the replay official was incorrect. The ball carrier did not regain possession of the ball, and the ruling on the field awarding the ball to East Carolina should not have been reversed.”
ECU multiple times was on the verge of a signature 30-27 victory over a Tulsa team that instead prevailed and improved to 3-0 in league play.
“I’ve coached almost 200 games as a head coach in my life, 100-plus at the college level, and I’ve never seen anything like that in my entire life,” Pirate coach Mike Houston said.
Ahlers was especially accurate early in the game, setting the tone for the Pirates to lead most of the night. He completed 23 of his first 25 passes.
Tulsa didn’t take its first lead until it was 27-23 on a Hurricane TD with 9:14 left to play. ECU was up 17-3 at halftime.
“I’m not surprised by it and I thought Holton was sharp all week and he’s a really good player,” Houston said.
2. Any interceptions?
The first throw by Tulsa senior Zach Smith was overthrown and sailed into the arms of ECU safety Warren Saba, who returned the ball to the Tulsa 42-yard line. Harris had a long run on the ensuing possession and the Pirates got in the end zone on a 16-yard pass to Tyler Snead for a 7-0 lead.
It was Saba’s second INT of the year. Shawn Dourseau had the Pirates’ other interception in the opening half.
The Pirates lost two fumbles and Ahlers threw one interception. The INT set Tulsa up inside the ECU 5, and a Golden Hurricane field goal made it 20-20 — the final tie — with 4:15 left in the third quarter
Each team committed three turnovers. ECU converted 10 points off turnovers and Tulsa had six.
3. What time is it over?
It was a 3 hour and 40 minute game, ending officially at 12:45 a.m. (EST). The ball kicked off at 9:05.
Houston was asked frequently about the fourth quarter and how the Pirates might react to the emotional ending. Tulsa scored 14 points in the fourth and ECU scored 10.
“As long as these kids stay together and keep fighting for each other, it’s going to happen,” he said. “I’m tired of saying that, though. We are all ready to celebrate and ready to get over the hump.”