Tigers fall to East Carolina 41-7
Oct. 13, 2012
GREENVILLE, N.C. - In a match-up of Conference USA East Division foes, East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden passed for 308 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Pirates to a 41-7 league victory Saturday before a Homecoming crowd of 45,137 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Carden was on target most of the contest, connecting on 25 of his 33 pass attempts. Justin Hardy and Justin Jones were Carden's main targets. Hardy had six receptions for 137 yards and two scores, and Jones added five catches for 80 yards and three touchdowns.
The Tigers offense got in a rhythm late in the game, resulting in a touchdown and another drive deep into Pirate territory.
The Memphis scoring drive began early in the final quarter, and Tigers quarterback Jacob Karam directed a nine-play, 76-yard possession that culminated in a Jai Steibthree-yard touchdown run. The score was the first of Steib's Memphis career.
Karam was 2-of-4 passing for 50 yards on the drive, including a 44-yard connection with Marcus Rucker to open the possession. An Eric Mathews 12-yard pass to Jesse Millesonon a 3rd-and-4 play from the Pirate 15 yard line kept the possession alive for the Tigers.
On their final possession, the Tigers did not score, but moved the ball deep into East Carolina territory as time ran out. Memphis started on its own 34 yard line and moved inside the Pirate 10 on the strength of Steib's ground game. Steib picked up 28 of the Tigers' 57 yards on the 12-play drive.
The Tigers got in a hole early when East Carolina hit pay dirt on its first two possessions. On the fourth play of the game, Carden hit Hardy across the middle around the Memphis 45 yard line, and Hardy out-raced the Tigers secondary to the end zone for a 7-0 Pirate lead.
After a Memphis punt, the Pirates scored on the their second possession when Carden hit Jones in the end zone from 39 yards out to increase the home team's advantage to 14-0 with 7:30 left in the opening quarter. The scoring striking came after the Memphis defense pushed the Pirates back to a 3rd-and-22 situation as the result of an Akeem Davis10-yard sack.
The Tigers' best scoring chance early on came in the final five minutes of the first quarter. After a second Memphis punt gave East Carolina the ball on its own 20, Tigers defensive lineman Kendrick Golden forced a fumble on East Carolina's first play from scrimmage, and Ricky Hunter recovered the loose ball at the Pirate 22. Memphis, though, was unable to move the ball, and Tyler Spurlock's37-yard field goal attempt missed right.
In the second quarter, the Memphis defense held the Pirates to only 67 total yards and forced three Pirates' fumbles, but the Tigers managed to recover only one. The lone score in the quarter was a Warren Harvey 37-yard field goal to extend the East Carolina lead to 17-0 just before the half.
The Pirates, though, responded to Memphis' tough second quarter defense with an offensive explosion in the third period. Carden threw two more touchdowns - 11 yards to Hardy and 14 yards to Jones - and Harvey added a 45-yard field goal for a 34-0 lead to break the contest open. Carden tossed his fifth touchdown pass of the game early in the fourth quarter.
Karam paced the Memphis offense with 14-of-23 passing for 153 yards, and his top target was Rucker, who had seven catches for 88 yards. With his seven receptions, Rucker moved into the No. 9 spot on the Tigers all-time catches list. Keiwone Maloneadded four receptions for 29 yards.
Vintavious Cooper led the Pirate ground attack with 96 yards on 16 carries.
Memphis managed 281 total yards, while East Carolina had 369 total yards. The Tigers defense shut down the Pirates rushing game, allowing only 61 yards on the ground, and added six sacks. The Tigers' six sacks were the most since a Sept. 27, 2008, contest versus Arkansas State.
Cannon Smith led the Tigers defense with nine total stops, and Davis added eight total tackles and one sack. Martin Ifediled the squad with 3.0 TFL (18 yards) and 2.5 sacks (17 yards) to go along with five hits.
Gabriel Woullard led the Pirates defense with 10 total stops, 2.0 TFL (9 yards) and 1.5 sacks (7 yards).
The Tigers return to action Oct. 20 when they welcome UCF to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium for Homecoming. Game time is 7 p.m. (CT), and the contest is slated for a Comcast Sports South (CSS) broadcast.