A statistical look at ECU and their big playmakers.
ECU 28, Tulane 23 - Recap and Reaction
After a sluggish first drive, Tulane offense took advantage of 2 defensive stops after driving 54 yards and scoring on a 13 yard throw from Ryan Griffin to Xavier Rush. The Wave's defense did a solid job in the first quarter, blanketing ECU's receivers and forcing a turnover on downs and 2 punts on the Pirate's first 3 possessions. Tulane looked to make a bigger dent in the lead when a Josh Rounds reception looked like it was going deep into ECU territory only to be called back on a misjudgment by the referees, citing his knee was down. Tulane tried a fake punt on 4th down and did not convert. ECU turned the good field position into points, with Shane Cardon hitting Justin Hardy for a 7 yard touchdown to tie the game.
The second quarter was more of the same with Tulane's defense having success keeping the ECU drives contained. Halfway through the quarter the offense drove down the field and extended their lead 10 to 7 with Cairo Santos hitting a 23 yard field goal. ECU had their answer, however, methodically working down the field and scoring on a 5 yard run from quarterback Shane Carden, putting them ahead 14 to 10. It looked like ECU would put more points on the board before half, but Shakiel Smith jumped a ECU wide receiver and took an interception from Tulane territory down to ECU's 28 yard line. Cairo Santos field goal attempt hit the left upright, but took a favorable bounce and went in and the halftime score stood at 14 to 13 in favor of ECU.
ECU got on the board first in the second half, scoring on a 5 yard run from Reggie Bullock early in the 3rd quarter. Tulane struggled out the gate in the 3rd quarter, but finally put together a drive that put Cairo Santos in range to cut the ECU lead to 21 to 16.
The Pirates looked to take control of the game in the 4th quarter, mounting a drive into Wave territory but a favorable bounce dropped the ball right into Jordan Batiste's lap while he laid on his back, giving the Wave the ball back and a chance to take the lead. The drive lead to nothing other than a 3 and out, forcing another Tulane punt. Tulane's offensive inefficiency took a toll on an already depleted defense, forcing them to be on the field for much of the 2nd half. Their tiredness opened the gate for ECU to march down the field and widen their lead 28 to 16 on a 11 yard throw from Carden to Danny Webster.
Tulane made things interesting late in the game, scoring with 1:22 on the clock on a 31 yard throw from Griffin to Wilson Van Hooser. However, it was too little too late as the Wave failed to recover the onside kick and ECU kneeled it to seal a 28 to 23 victory.
- The offensive line problems reappeared today, with Griffin taking multiple hits and 6 sacks. ECU was not allowing much downfield, hence the many short completions and short routes. Just could not find that deep play with the poor protection and ECU playing deep coverage.
- Josh Rounds showed some flashes today, especially on the big play that was incorrectly called back. Think he can be a solid contributor as a speedier back in the coming seasons.
- The defense did enough in the 1st half and early in the 2nd half to keep the team in the game, but as the offense could not get anything moving they eventually wore down and were listless on ECU's final possessions. Couple that with multiple injuries along the line and to Logan Hamilton and Dominique Robertson getting knocked out and it was not a recipe for success. Though time of possession was in favor of Tulane by 4 minutes, the second half did not reflect that trend as the Wave's defense was out there for way too long.
- There are some questions about the management on the hurry up possession with Tulane down 26 - 17. Did not seem to be any urgency and there were some poorly used timeouts. Those timeouts could have provided a chance to make a defensive stop.
- Cairo Santos remained perfect on the year. According to the Lou Groza Award's twitter, there is only one other kicker in NCAA history that has been perfect through 20 attempts.
- Hopefully the team can go out on a high note against Houston. There is obviously a youth movement going on and some momentum would be a good thing to carry into the spring.
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