(Saturday, September 27th)
Final Score: Houston 41, (23) East Carolina 24
Greenville, NC (Sports Network) - Case Keenum racked up 399 yards on 36-of-44 passing with three touchdowns and one interception, as Houston upended No. 23 East Carolina, 41-24, in a Conference-USA bout.
Bryce Beall added 132 yards on 22 carries and two scores for the Cougars (2-3, 1-0 C-USA), who snapped a three-game slide. Patrick Edwards caught 11 balls for 146 yards and a touchdown, while Kierrie Johnson had four grabs for 104 yards and a TD.
Mark Hafner also found the end zone for Houston. Ben Bell was 2-of-4 on field goals and 5-for-5 on extra point attempts in the win.
Pat Pinkney garnered 100 yards on 10-of-20 passing with one touchdown and one pick for the Pirates (3-2, 1-1), who have now dropped two straight contests and will likely drop from the Top 25. Rob Kass was 5-for-8 with 49 yards and an interception in relief of an ineffective Pinkney.
Brandon Simmons gained 86 yards on 19 touches and scored once in defeat. Alex Taylor had three catches for 58 yards and Dwayne Harris hauled in five balls for 52 yards.
Nursing a seven-point lead late in the third, Houston held ECU to a three-and- out and the Pirates punted to begin the final stanza. On the second play from scrimmage, Keenum hit a wide-open Johnson on a sideline pass and the receiver dashed 84 yards unscathed into the end zone for a 31-17 lead with 14:06 left in regulation.
During the Pirates' ensuing drive, Houston's Quint Williams intercepted Kass at the 47-yard line and ran it all the way down to the ECU three. Beall lost two yards on first down, but stormed five yards into the end zone on second down for a 38-17 advantage two minutes later.
A missed 27-yard field goal by Bell led to a 12-yard touchdown reception by Jamar Bryant with 8:06 to play that pulled ECU as close as 38-24.
With 3:48 showing on the clock, Bell atoned for his earlier miss as he connected on a 32-yard kick on 4th-and-1 to give Houston a commanding 41-24 lead.
Houston had 621 yards of total offense and 25 first downs, while ECU had only 275 yards and 13 first downs.
Houston took a 7-0 lead just past the 10-minute mark of the first quarter. On 1st-and-goal from the ECU five, Keenum took the ball on a quarterback keeper but coughed up a fumble that Van Eskridge recovered for the Pirates.
On ECU's very next play, Pinkney was picked off by Brandon Brinkley and the Cougars took over on the ECU 21. On 2nd-and-13 Keenum found Edwards for a 24- yard scoring strike.
The Pirates were forced to punt on their next possession, but on Houston's ensuing drive, East Carolina's Emanuel Davis picked off a Keenum pass for an 11-yard touchdown. The score tied the game at 7-7 with 6:28 left in the opening stanza.
The Cougars responded with a five-play, 78-yard drive that lasted just under two minutes and was capped as Beall ran around the right end for a 21-yard touchdown to make it a 14-7 affair.
After recovering a fumble in Houston territory late in the first, ECU embarked on a drive that bridged the first two quarters. Ben Hartman closed out the six-play, 20-yard trek with a 26-yard field goal that made it 14-10 just three seconds into the second frame.
With 2:40 left in the half, Houston took over at its own 20-yard line. Keenum drove his team all the way down to the ECU 11-yard line, highlighted by a 29- yard quarterback keeper. On 1st-and-10, Keenum connected with Hafner for an 11-yard TD strike to send the game into the intermission with the Cougars leading 21-10.
After forcing a Houston punt in the third quarter, ECU started a drive at its own 30. New quarterback Kass hooked up with Harris for a 41-yard pass all the way down to the Houston 18. It then took Simmons three attempts to find the end zone, finally scoring on a four-yard scamper around the right end with just over six minutes left in the third, pulling the Pirates within 21-17.
Bell's 24-yard field goal gave the Cougars a 24-17 advantage with 1:32 left before the final stanza.
The win ended Houston's 18-game losing streak against ranked opponents since a 56-49 OT win against No.20 Southern Mississippi in November of 1996. The triumph was the Cougars' first road win against a ranked foe since edging No. 3 Texas, 29-15, in November of 1984...ECU holds a 5-4 edge in the all-time series...The Cougars never trailed at any point in the game.
09/27 21:59:26 ET