ECU breaks up conversion pass to win in overtime vs. Memphis; Pirates now bowl eligible for first time since 2014 season

ECU Pirates

Memphis defensive back Tyrez Lindsey (22) pressures East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers (12) during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian via AP)

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Keaton Mitchell scored on a 24-yard run in overtime then the Pirates broke up a conversion pass to send East Carolina to a 30-29 win over Memphis on Saturday.

After Rodrigues Clark scored on a 20-yard run for Memphis, the Tigers went for two. Seth Henigan rolled to the left and, under pressure, threw into a crowded end zone where the pass was easily batted down.

The win gave East Carolina bowl eligibility for the first time since the 2014 season and its highest overall win total (6-4, 4-2 American Athletic Conference) since 2014. It was also the Pirates’ third straight win.

The Tigers (5-5, 2-4) rallied to tie in regulation when David Kemp made a 24-yard field goal as time ran out. The kick capped a 15-play, 69-yard drive that included two fourth-down conversions.

ECU’s Rahjai Harris scored from a yard out with 1 1/2 minutes remaining to finish a 16-play, 75-yard drive that took nearly seven minutes and gave the Pirates a 23-20 lead.

East Carolina outgained the Tigers 502-341 and rolled up 32 first downs to Memphis’ 15. The Pirates’ scoring drives in regulation were 65 yards or longer.

But the Tigers turned two interceptions by Jacobi Francis into scoring passes and their defensive line had six sacks, led by Wardalis Ducksworth with 2 1/2.

Memphis’ longest drive of the day — eight plays and 80 yards — ended with Hanigan’s shovel pass to Sean Dykes and a 20-16 lead in the third quarter.

Henigan threw for 233 yards with three touchdowns — including a 75-yarder to Eddie Lewis — and an interception.

Holton Ahlers threw for 313 yards but had the two interceptions for the Pirates. Tyler Snead caught 13 passes for 113 yards and went over 1,000 for the second straight season, only the third Tiger to do so.

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