East Carolina's football season ended in disappointing fashion Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, falling 49-24 to Tulsa. Here are three answers from the ECU-Tulsa game:
1. How much does Tulsa have left in the tank? A lot, which surprised me and probably a lot of other people.
It's easy to call this ECU's most disappointing game of the season versus a team that came to Greenville with a 3-8 record two days after Thanksgiving. It was similar to the Pirates' 45-20, homecoming setback to South Florida.
The Pirates scored the first points of the game on a Jake Verity field goal late in the first quarter, but the Golden Hurricane bounced back in dominating fashion with 28 straight points before the Pirates scored again to make it 28-10 during the third quarter. Tulsa responded -- again -- rallying to an insurmountable 42-10 advantage during the first minute of the fourth.
2. Who wins the turnover battle? ECU did with one interception (Tank Robinson) and one fumble recovery. Tulsa had one fumble recovery, but the turnover battle did not really factor into the game's outcome. The driving force behind the Hurricane's rout was a 669-383 final advantage in total yards.
Pirate quarterback Holton Ahlers did play a turnover-free game, completing 27-of-48 passes for 308 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He finished his sophomore campaign with a 21-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio and his 3,387 pass yards rank fourth all-time in ECU single-season history.
3. What is the impact of the ECU defensive line? Senior interior player Jalen Price exploded into the Tulsa backfield for a fourth-down stop on Tulsa’s first offensive possession. Kendall Futrell also brought down a sack in the first quarter, improving his season total to 11, but Tulsa’s offense still very much overwhelmed the Pirate defense.
Futrell and Alex Turner each finished with three tackles in their final game. The Pirates' leading tacklers were Robinson and freshman Juan Powell, each with 10. Tulsa had five tackles for loss compared to three by the Pirates.