TULSA, Okla. (AP)--Dominique Lindsay ran for a career-high 172 yards, Darryl Freeney had a career-best 152 yards receiving and East Carolina maintained its lead in Conference USA's East Division with a 44-17 victory over Tulsa on Sunday night.
In a rematch of last season's conference championship game, the Pirates (6-4, 5-1) dominated on offense in the first half and then sealed the game with three defensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Patrick Pinkney threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns, to Lindsay and Freeney. East Carolina is a game ahead of UAB, Southern Miss and Central Florida with two games left.
Tulsa (4-6, 2-4) is in jeopardy of missing out on a bowl after losing five straight.
Damaris Johnson, the nation's leader in all-purpose yardage, got the Golden Hurricane back in the game after the Pirates had built a 20-point lead in the first half. He returned a kickoff 57 yards and then had catches on back-to-back plays, the second going for 9 yards and a touchdown that brought Tulsa to 23-17 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter.
East Carolina couldn't get its offense going again after amassing 401 yards in the first half, but Emanuel Davis stepped in front of G.J. Kinne's pass to Johnson and cut across the field before weaving his way into the end zone to provide some extra cushion.
Tulsa got the ball to the 7 on its ensuing possession, but Kinne's pass on fourth-and-6 bounced off of nose guard Linval Joseph's helmet and fell incomplete. Levin Neal then picked off another Kinne pass and brought it back 57 yards to put the game away with 2:23 remaining. Defensive tackle Jay Ross added a 49-yard return of Kinne's fumble 46 seconds later.
Kinne finished with 236 yards on 23-for-46 passing with two touchdowns and the two interceptions. Johnson had 14 catches for 135 yards.
Lindsay and Freeney both surpassed the best performances of their career before the first half was even over. Lindsay had 150 yards on 20 carries while Freeney had seven catches for 146 yards. Both also caught touchdown passes-- Freeney a 37-yarder and Lindsay a 12-yarder--as the Pirates built a 20-0 lead.