Pirates scare up win over Blazers

Published 8:52 am Sunday, October 28, 2007

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — There were a few tricks for the Blazers and plenty of treats for Pirate fans.
Patrick Pinkney was scary good for East Carolina, undoubtedly causing some nightmares for UAB in a 41-6 thumping. Pinkney came off the bench and fired the pumpkin around at will, throwing for 159 yards and two touchdowns on just seven throws in front 41,125 fans Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The way Chris Johnson and Jonathan Williams ran around and through defenders, it looked like the Blazers were trying to tackle ghosts. Johnson galloped for 79 yards and a touchdown, while Williams hoofed his way for 63 yards and a score.
Jamar Bryant was devilish all game. He snared six passes for 14 yards and a touchdown.
Dwayne Harris conjured up some wickedness of his own, finishing with 96 yards on five punt returns, including a jaw-dropping 38-yarder.
It all led to the fourth straight Conference USA win for the Pirates (5-4, 4-1), who stayed atop the C-USA East standings. ECU is a half-game ahead of Southern Miss, who plays host to UCF tonight.
UAB (2-6, 1-3) dropped its second straight and fourth in the last five games.
The defense, which held the Blazers to 296 yards of total offense and just 3-of-16 on third-down conversions, kept UAB out of the end zone. It was the first time the Pirates have held an opponent without a touchdown since a 38-0 win over Duke on Sept 2, 2000.
The Pirates wasted little time in jumping on the Blazers. Van Eskridge came up with his first interception of the season, picking off Sam Hunt (12-of-29 for 94 yards and two interceptions) on UAB’s third play from scrimmage.
Four plays later, Williams, a former standout at J.H. Rose High School, scored his first college touchdown on a 35-yard scamper.
It was the first time all season that the Pirates scored first.
Williams played a part in ECU’s next score as well. His 41-yard kickoff return, coming after a 42-yard field goal by UAB kicker Swayze Waters, set up Ben Hartman’s 36-yard boot that gave ECU a 10-3 lead.
Pinkney guided the Pirates to their next score. His 45-yard strike to a diving Bryant was the key play in the drive, which was capped by Dominique Lindsay’s 3-yard burst up the middle. Williams added a bruising 14-yard run during the march, which helped put ECU ahead 17-3.
Waters’ second field goal, a 44-yarder midway through the second quarter, pulled UAB within 17-6.
The Pirates answered with a 27-yard field goal by Hartman that gave the Pirates a 20-6 halftime lead. An electrifying run by Harris set up the score.
Harris looked like he was going to be tackled for a 10-yard loss on a reverse, but the freshman danced around, darted past a defender, reversed field and turned the play into a dazzling 27-yard gain.
Brandon Thornton’s 35-yard run got the Blazers into ECU territory early in the third quarter. However, Wilson sacked Hunt for a 4-yard loss. The Blazers were forced to try a 47-yard field goal, which Waters pushed to the right to keep it a 20-6 game.
ECU rode that momentum to cover 71 yards in five plays. Johnson started and ended the drive with 20-yard runs. A 16-yard pass from Pinkney to tight end Jay Sonnhalter was sandwiched in between.
Johnson’s touchdown, which gave him 34 career touchdowns and 204 points, tying him for fifth all-time with Dave Alexander (1963-65), gave ECU a 27-6 advantage.
Pinkney made it a 34-6 game with his first touchdown pass since the Houston game, a span of four games. The ECU back-up quarterback fired a perfect strike to Bryant for 52 yards.
Pinkney was at it again a short time later, firing a 7-yard scoring strike to Steven Rogers for a 41-6 advantage.
Travis Williams, Pierre Bell and Fred Wilson tied for team-high honors with six tackles apiece. J.J. Milbrook also picked off a pass for ECU.
For the Pirates, who return to action next Saturday at Memphis, they were good.
Scary good.