Pirates look for first bowl win since 2000 season
Published 7:26 pm Sunday, December 23, 2007
By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — After luaus, beaches and volcanoes, the East Carolina Pirates get down to some football tonight.
The Pirates (7-5) will battle the No. 24 Boise State Broncos (10-2) in the Hawaii Bowl. The game at Aloha Stadium, which kicks off at 8 p.m., will be televised on ESPN.
The Pirates, 7-6 overall in bowl games, will be looking for their first bowl victory since a 40-27 win over Texas Tech in the 2000 galleryfurniture.com Bowl.
Boise State, 5-2 in bowl appearances, took a thrilling 43-42 overtime win against Oklahoma in last year’s Fiesta Bowl.
The Broncos, which won nine straight before falling 39-27 to Hawaii in the regular-season finale, are playing in a bowl game for the sixth straight year.
The Pirates are averaging 30.2 and allowing 29.8 points per game.
ECU is gaining an average of 377.9 yards of offense (206.6 passing and 171.3 rushing) and surrendering 436.4 yards (290.6 passing and 145.8 rushing) on defense.
On the other side, the Broncos are scoring an average of 42.8 points and allowing 20.0 per game. Boise State picks up, on average, 475.7 yards of offense (283.5 passing and 192.2 rushing) and gives up 326.5 yards (211.6 passing and 114.9 rushing) on defense.
Quarterback Taylor Tharp and running back Ian Johnson, whose 2-point conversion run gave the Broncos the win over Oklahoma last year, spearhead the Boise State offensive attack.
Tharp, an All-Western Athletic Conference Second Teamer, has completed 259 of 379 passes (68.3 percent) for 3,070 yards. He’s thrown 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Johnson, an All-WAC First Team running back, has rushed for 1,030 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Jeremy Avery has 603 yards rushing and eight scores on the ground. D.J. Harper has added 373 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
Jeremy Childs has been Tharp’s favorite target, hauling in 82 passes for 1,045 yards and nine touchdowns. Childs won’t play in the game after getting suspensed earlier this year.
Titus Young and Austin Pettis each have 37 catches. Young’s receptions have been good for 592 yards and five scores, while Pettis has accumulated 376 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
Johnson has 25 catches for 312 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield.
All-WAC Second Teamer Kyle Brotzman has been accurate in the kicking game for the Broncos. He’s converted 15 of 17 field goal attempts and all 61 of his PATs.
Kyle Gingg leads the Broncos with 86 tackles and three fumble recoveries. All-WAC First Teamer Marty Tadman has 83 tackles.
Dallas Dobbs, who has 65 tackles, leads the Broncos with three interceptions.
Mike Williams, who has 26 tackles, leads Boise State with six quarterback sacks.
Chris Johnson leads the Pirate backfield with 1,200 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. He has 34 catches for 496 yards and five touchdowns. The ECU senior, named the All-Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Year, is also averaging 28.5 yards per kick return.
The Pirates will continue to rotate quarterbacks Rob Kass and Patrick Pinkney.
Kass has completed 95-of-172 passes (55.2 percent) for 1,128 yards. The sophomore has thrown nine touchdown passes and four interceptions.
Pinkney has clicked on 109-of-181 passes (60.2 percent) for 1,240 yards. The junior has thrown 10 touchdown passes and four interceptions.
Jamar Bryant leads the ECU receiving corps with 42 catches for 626 yards and six touchdowns.
Phillip Henry has added 27 grabs for 279 yards.
Multi-threat Dwayne Harris has 25 receptions for 224 yards and two scores, along with 173 rushing yards and a touchdown. The freshman is averaging 8.4 yards per punt return.
Other Pirates with double-digit receptions are Steven Rogers (24 for 246 yards and two scores), Davon Drew (19 for 196 and two touchdowns) and Juwon Crowell (10 for 144 and a score).
Van Eskridge leads the ECU defensive unit with 96 tackles. Pierre Belle, tied with Leon Best, Jerek Hewett and J.J. Milbrook for the team-lead with two interceptions, is next on the list with 88 stops.
Fred Wilson has 78 takedowns, while Travis Williams has 69 and Quentin Cotton 63, including 11 for loss.
Zack Slate has 48 tackles, including a team-best 11.5 for loss. That includes 4.5 quarterback sacks.
C.J. Wilson (35 tackles, 9.5 for loss) leads the Pirates with six quarterback sacks and 12 QB hurries.