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Pirates hang on to top Cougars

By By The Associated Press
HOUSTON — Chris Johnson rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns to lead East Carolina to a 37-35 win over Houston on Saturday night.
East Carolina (2-3, 1-1 Conference USA) led 34-21 in the third quarter and held on late as Houston (2-2, 1-1) missed two field goals in the game’s final two minutes.
Houston’s Donnie Avery returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to cut East Carolina’s lead to 37-35 on the final play of the third quarter.
Avery also caught nine passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns.
But Houston’s comeback fell just short as T.J. Lawrence missed a 37-yard field goal with 1:55 left. His 38-yard attempt with three seconds remaining went wide right.
East Carolina trailed 21-20 at halftime, but took the lead for the good on its first possession of the third quarter.
Rob Kass threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Lee to put East Carolina ahead 27-21 with 13:24 left in the third.
Johnson scored his second touchdown of the game on a 43-yard run that gave the Pirates a 34-21 cushion.
Houston cut into the lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by Anthony Alridge with 4:26 left in the third.
Alridge rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
Houston’s Case Keenum threw two interceptions in the first half that set up East Carolina’s first two touchdowns.
Keenum, who threw a 64-yard TD to Avery in the first quarter, was replaced by Blake Joseph in the second quarter.
Keenum’s second interception set up Patrick Pinkney’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris that gave the Pirates a 13-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Joseph, who was 24-of-29 for 250 yards, threw a 36-yard TD pass to Avery to put Houston ahead 14-13.
East Carolina took a 20-14 when C.J. Wilson blocked a 49-yard field attempt, and Zack Slate returned it to the Houston 11.
Two plays later, Brandon Simmons scored on a 1-yard run.
Joseph threw a 5-yard TD pass to Alridge to give the Cougars a 21-20 halftime lead.
EAST CAROLINA 37, HOUSTON 35
East Carolina 0 20 17 0 — 37
Houston 7 14 14 0 — 35
First Quarter
Hou—Avery 64 pass from Keenum (Lawrence kick), 3:33.
Second Quarter
ECU—C.Johnson 14 run (Hartman kick), 14:53.
ECU—Harris 20 pass from Pinkney (pass failed), 12:23.
Hou—Avery 36 pass from Joseph (Lawrence kick), 7:38.
ECU—B.Simmons 1 run (Hartman kick), 2:15.
Hou—Alridge 5 pass from Joseph (Lawrence kick), :09.
Third Quarter
ECU—T.Lee 34 pass from Kass (Hartman kick), 13:24.
ECU—C.Johnson 43 run (Hartman kick), 8:15.
Hou—Alridge 4 run (Lawrence kick), 4:26.
ECU—FG Hartman 33, :10.
Hou—Avery 100 kickoff return (Lawrence kick), :00.
A—0.
ECU Hou
First downs 14 23
Rushes-yards 40-173 46-139
Passing 156 345
Comp-Att-Int 11-26-1 30-41-2
Return Yards 53 51
Punts-Avg. 9-40.0 7-31.1
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-1
Penalties-Yards 9-65 8-72
Time of Possession 24:59 35:01
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING—East Carolina, C.Johnson 24-147, Lindsay 5-21, Pinkney 5-14, B.Simmons 1-1, Team 2-(minus 3), Kass 3-(minus 7). Houston, Alridge 21-89, Ganaway 8-28, Joseph 12-27, Kohn 1-1, Gilbert 2-(minus 2), Keenum 2-(minus 4).
PASSING—East Carolina, Pinkney 5-14-1-46, Kass 6-12-0-110. Houston, Joseph 24-29-0-250, Keenum 6-11-2-95, Team 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—East Carolina, C.Johnson 4-24, J.Bryant 3-57, T.Lee 1-34, Harris 1-20, Hickman 1-16, Sonnhalter 1-5. Houston, Avery 9-189, T.Williams 6-53, Alridge 5-43, Harvey 4-27, Hafner 3-24, Gilbert 1-4, McDaniel 1-3, Scourten 1-2.