NEW ORLEANS (WNCT) — East Carolina’s football team was looking for its second straight victory and a chance to improve its AAC record against a much-improved Tulane team.
It didn’t exactly turn out so well.
The Pirates were fresh off their 48-28 victory over South Florida days after Hurricane Ian forced the game to be moved to Boca Raton, Fla. On Saturday, ECU dropped a 24-9 decision to the Green Wave, who were coming off an overtime win against the Houston Cougars.
The Pirates won last year’s game at home, 52-29. The Green Wave, which came in as one of the top defenses in the country, was ready for revenge this year.
ECU made some mistakes, and Tulane made some great plays that led up to the final score. Let’s take a look at them:
Holton Ahlers, who the week before completed 31 of 41 passes for 465 yards and six touchdowns to earn AAC Offensive Player of the Week honors, threw two costly second-half interceptions.
In the third quarter, Ahlers tried to hit Jsi Hatfield in the back of the end zone, but it was picked off. Three plays later, the Green Wave scored again as Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt hit wide receiver Deuce Watts for 35 yards, then followed with a 44-yard touchdown, giving Tulane a 21-9 lead.
With 11:12 left, just as soon as the Pirates were about to hit Green Wave territory, Ahlers tried to throw over the middle, but it was intercepted off a deflection. Tulane then converted on that drive, nailing a 42-yard field goal for a 24-9 lead.
Pratt, who did not play in the big win over Houston due to a shoulder injury, proved to be healthy as he threw for a career-high 326 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third.
Despite getting sacked five times in the second half, he finished 27 of 34 with zero interceptions.
Pratt and wide receiver Duece Watts applied the backbreakers on consecutive plays in the third quarter as Pratt’s passes were perfectly placed, even in the tight coverage.
In the fourth quarter, ECU’s top cornerback, Malik Fleming, went down with an injury and had to be helped off the field.
Fleming had his 16th consecutive start, totaling four tackles (three solo), a tackle for loss and a pass breakup last week in the Pirates’ win over USF.
ECU kicking woes continue
Owen Daffer nailed a 27-yard field goal in the first quarter to give ECU a 3-0 lead. Tulane came back with a touchdown to start the second quarter to make it 7-3. The Pirates responded with a five-play, 64-yard drive, capped off by an Ahlers-to-CJ-Johnson touchdown. However, Daffer missed the extra point.
Tulane then scored again for a 14-9 lead. Daffer came in right before the half to kick a 46-yard field goal but it is blocked.
Lack of offense in second half
The offense seemed sluggish in the second half. The Pirates didn’t score again and finished with one of its worst outings of the season. The team finished with the lowest scoring output since the NC State season opener, a 34-6 loss, in 2019.
On top of that, there was also an illegal man downfield penalty that took a touchdown off the board.
Next weekend for their homecoming game, the Pirates will host the Memphis Tigers. They are coming off a bye week after a 24-3 AAC win over Temple.
The game will begin at 7:30 p.m.