ECU defense holds Tulsa to just 24 points

Published 2:33 pm Sunday, December 7, 2008

By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
Dekota Marshall set the tone early.
On the first play from scrimmage, Marshall intercepted Tulsa quarterback Dave Johnson, and it was a sign of things to come.
With a conference championship on the line, East Carolina played its best defense of the season, creating seven turnovers, sacking Johnson four times and holding Tulsa’s high-powered offense to a season-low 399 yards as the Pirates captured their first conference campionship in 32 years with a 27-24 win over the Golden Hurricane.
East Carolina’s defense simply rattled Johnson behind constant pressure from its front four.
All season long, the Pirates have relied on C.J. Wilson, Zack Slate, Jay Ross and Linvall Jospeh to get pressure on the quarterback. And they had their best outing when it mattered most.
The foursome combined for 27 tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-a-loss, three sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass break-up.
Most of the Pirates’ domination came in the second half, as East Carolina turned the heat up and held Tulsa — the No. 2 ranked scoring offense in college football (49.3 points per game — to just seven points.
The biggest beneficiary of the pressure on the quarterback was the Pirates’ secondary, which came up with five interceptions and a forced a fumble. Marshall, Van Eskridge (2), Travis Simmons and Leon Best all had interceptions, as the Pirates tied the record for most interceptions under coach Holtz.
It was just a dominant performance, by a dominant defense.