Patrick Pinkney threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jamar Bryant with 1:41 left in the fourth quarter, and No. 14 East Carolina rallied for a 28-24 victory against Tulane on Saturday.
The Pirates (3-0, 1-0 Conference USA) vaulted into the national rankings _ and national spotlight _ by upsetting Virginia Tech and West Virginia in consecutive weeks, then barely escaped having Tulane (0-2, 0-1) pull the same trick on them.
The Pirates overcame four turnovers and a running game that managed only 52 yards.
Pinkney completed 22 of 32 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns, and the Pirates improved to 3-0 for the first time since 1999. ECU secured the victory when Pierre Bell intercepted Kevin Moore's pass at the Green Wave 45 with 28 seconds left.
Ross Thevenot kicked a 28-yard field goal with 13:40 left in the fourth quarter to put Tulane up 24-21.
Pinkney drove the Pirates 80 yards in nine plays for the winning score as Tulane lost its 34th consecutive game against a ranked opponent.
The Green Wave last beat a ranked team in 1982 when they defeated No. 12 LSU 31-28.
Moore was 21-for-37 for 236 yards and a 47-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Williams in the third quarter that tied it at 14.
Williams finished with eight catches for 138 yards, and Andre Anderson ran for 82 yards and two touchdowns.
Brandon Simmons' broke a 7-7 halftime tie for East Carolina with a 3-yard touchdown run, capping the first drive of the second half.
The Pirates regained the lead, 21-14, on the next possession as Pinkney's screen pass to Norman Whitley turned into a 51-yard touchdown with 5:45 remaining in the third quarter.
Anderson's 1-yard TD run late in the third quarter tied the score again.
East Carolina's C.J. Wilson blocked Tevenot's 46-yard field-goal attempt and Quentin Cotton returned the ball 44 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 12:16 remaining in the second quarter.
Evan Lee's fumble recovery at the East Carolina 10 set up Tulane's first score, a 1-yard run by Anderson with 59 seconds left in the first quarter.
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