These three questions were asked in preview coverage of East Carolina’s opening football game against No. 13 UCF.
The Pirates scored the first touchdown of the game, but they trailed by 20 points at halftime en route to a 51-28 loss. Here are the answers to the three questions:
1. Does UCF score 45 points?
UCF freshman running back Johnny Richardson went untouched to the end zone with 3:59 left in the game for the Knights to pass the 45- and 50-point barriers. His 31-yard touchdown run made it 51-21.
The key to the game was UCF’s run of 41 straight points that started around the midway point of the first quarter and lasted into the third. Dillon Gabriel’s fourth touchdown pass was a 9-yarder to Jaylon Robinson, making it 41-7 with 9:57 left in the third period.
Robinson’s first TD reception was 64 yards in the second quarter when the Oklahoma transfer shifted out and up the sideline easily behind the Pirate secondary. He caught the ball and headed to the end zone as ECU safety Juan Powell hobbled and gave chase.
“With all those guys on offense, they always are going to have that ability to make the big play,” Pirate coach Mike Houston said of the Knights, who scored an even 100 points in their two games this year.
The Pirates stopped UCF’s 41-0 run when Holton Ahlers threw to C.J. Johnson across the middle of the field and Johnson shook off a few tackle attempts to charge to the end zone for a 37-yard score late in the third quarter. Johnson was limited to two receptions, 52 yards and his TD.
2. How many quarterbacks play?
The third quarterback, UCF backup Quadry Jones, took over the Knight offense with his team leading 44-21 with 8:09 remaining in the game.
Only two QBs — the starters Ahlers and Dillon Gabriel — attempted a pass. Ahlers played the entire game for the Pirates.
Gabriel led the high-powered UCF offense, which often had the Pirates scrambling pre-snap in the opening half. He was 32-of-47 for 408 yards and four touchdowns for his second straight 400-yard game in as many weeks.
“As the game went on, obviously, I feel like their tempo got us just a little bit,” ECU linebacker Xavier Smith said.
The Knights' offense also did not commit a turnover.
3. Who leads ECU in rushing yards?
Veteran returnee Darius Pinnix started at running back, but it was certainly a committee approach to the Pirates’ finishing with a 244-224 edge over UCF in rushing yards.
The Pirates turned to speedy freshman Keaton Mitchell often in the second half, setting him up for a team-high 66 yards on eight carries. The Pirates played four running backs -- Pinnix, Mitchell, Rahjai Harris and Chase Hayden -- in various spells and situations.
Pinnix received the most carries with 13 for 39 yards. He had a rushing touchdown and caught a receiving TD for a 7-0 lead.
The opening touchdown drive included a 19-yard ground burst by Ahlers. The Pirate QB, who finished with 55 rush yards, then lofted a swing pass to Pinnix for a 17-yard touchdown.