Wave goodbye

Published 10:31 pm Saturday, October 29, 2011

East Carolina’s Jeremy Grove (53), Daniel Drake (59) and Damon Magazu (right) surround Tulane’s Albert Williams (25) during the first half at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville Saturday afternoon. (AP Photo/The Daily Reflector, Scott Davis)

GREENVILLE — There were no NCAA records for Dominique Davis this week, but the quarterback did manage to throw for 329 yards and one TD while running for two scores to lead East Carolina 34-13 victory over Conference USA foe Tulane on Saturday.
A week ago, Davis completed 26 straight passes to set a new NCAA mark for consecutive completions during ECU’s 38-35 win over Navy. Against Tulane, the senior quarterback was not quite as sharp, but he did hit on 29 of his 46 pass attempts to lead East Carolina to its first three-game winning streak since it topped Southern Miss, N.C. State and Marshall, respectively, last October.
“I’m very happy about the win, it was a team win and that’s been very big for us and that’s been the mantra for us since about three Sunday’s ago,” East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill said.
East Carolina senior WR Lance Lewis caught Davis’ lone TD pass, and with that reception, the JUCO transfer from East Mississippi CC s became the Pirates’ all-time leader in touchdown catches with 22.
“It feels great,” Lewis said. “To came here for only a year-and-a-half and set the record for scoring means a lot. I look at it as a team record because without my teammates I could not have done it.”
The Pirates entered Saturday’s game with the 32nd ranked pass defense in the nation and on Saturday they surpressed the Green Wave attack as quarterback Ryan Griffin completed only 16 of his 32 pass attempts for 132 yards and was sacked four times and intercepted once by sophomore safety Damon Magazu.
Kyle Tudor led ECU with 11 tackles, while Lee Pegues, Michael Brooks, Marke Powell and Derrell Johnson each recorded a sack. McNeill said good things happen when the front seven works well with the back four.
“Great pass rush equals great pass coverage, great pass coverage means great pass rush. It works hand and hand,” McNeill said.
East Carolina jumped out to a 7-0 lead when Davis guided the team on a nine-play, 69-yard drive that was highlighted by a 16-yard pass to Lewis and another to Zico Pasut that put the Pirates on the Green Wave 8-yard line. Two plays later, Davis faked a handoff and ran off tackle to his left to score from four yards out at the 4:08 mark in the first quarter.
The Green Wave was able to get its first points of the game thanks to a fumble by ECU WR Mike Price, who ran an end-around and was bobbling the ball as he was hit at the Pirates’ 40-yard line. The ball popped loosed and into the hands of Trent Mackey, who ran it back to the 5-yard line before he was tackled.
The ECU defense stood tall and limited Tulane to 20-yard field goal by Cairo Santos to cut the Pirates’ lead to 7-3.
Thanks to an 11-yard punt by Ben Ryan that allowed Tulane to start its possession at ECU 48-yard line, the Green Wave would take its first and only lead of the game when running back Orleans Darkwa rumbled up the gut of the defense for a 7-yard TD run and a 10-7 advantage early in the second quarter.
Ryan had two punts on Saturday that traveled a combined 35 yards, which led to him being pulled in favor of Phil McNaughton. In three attempts, the junior from Austrailia averaged 41.7 yards per punt with a long of 51.
After Darkwa’s score, Tulane’s lead would not last long as the Pirates responded on their ensuing possession with a six-play, 75-yard drive that featured a career-long 29-yard run by Davis that led Lewis’ record-setting two-yard TD reception and a 14-10 lead.
From there, the ECU defense surrendered only three points while getting adding two Michael Barbour field goals, a 6-yard TD run by Davis in the late in the third quarter and a 1-yard scoring run by Michal Dobson with a little over two minutes left in the game.