The ECU Pirates had no answer for the Rice Owls offense giving up 410 yards on the ground. With the loss and UCF beating Tulane 62-14, The Knights have eliminated the Pirates in the race for the East Division championship.
Rice outscored East Carolina 14-3 in the third quarter Saturday, breaking open a close game on the way to handing the Pirates a 62-38 Conference USA loss at Rice Stadium.
Junior Dominique Davis completed 21 passes on his way to 308 yards while accounting for four touchdowns, three through the air. His nation-leading 34 touchdown passes are an ECU single-season record and the seventh most in a year by a Conference USA quarterback. Additionally, his 42 touchdowns responsible for leave him six short of entering the C-USA single-season top-five list.
Senior inside receiver Dwayne Harris, the East Carolina career leader in receptions (250) and receiving yards (2,876), made seven catches for 119 yards. He also tallied 184 all-purpose yards, giving him 1,222 in this season's seven C-USA games (174.6 APY/G). He also surpassed Ketric Sanford (Houston/5,817/1996-99) for seventh on the league's career all-purpose yardage list as Harris now has 5,942.
Another Pirate receiver, junior Lance Lewis, hauled in seven balls to bring his total to 70 this season, the fifth most in a year in ECU history. Lewis also totaled a career high with a team-best 126 receiving yards in the game.
After ECU (6-5, 5-2) punted on its first possession, Rice (3-8, 2-5) took the ball at its own 26 and went the distance, using 12 plays in 5:16 to assume a 7-0 advantage after Jere Eddington cashed in with a two-yard touchdown run. The Pirates answered right back, tying the contest under a minute later when Davis hooked up with Lewis for 47 yards as the receiver beat the Owl defender one-on-one. Lewis now owns the ECU single-season record for touchdown receptions with 11.
With the first quarter winding down, Rice quarterback Taylor completed a four-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald following a 44-yard run by Sam McGuffie to put the home team back in front by seven.
The Owls forced East Carolina to punt on the ensuing drive, taking the ball back at their own 36. Rice would run six plays, driving down to the Pirate one-yard line before the first quarter clock ran out.
Eddington opened the second period with his first touchdown run of the day, finding the endzone and putting the Owls up by 14. Rice then extended its advantage to 27-7 after Travis Bradshaw picked off Davis and Eddington ripped off an 88-yard run right up the middle on the Owls' third play after the turnover. However, Josh Smith blocked the extra point - the first stuff of his career.
ECU cut the deficit to just six at halftime, out-scoring Rice 21-7 the rest of the way. Matt Milner provided a key defensive play with under two minutes remaining, forcing a fumble and taking the ball 50 yards down to the Owl 19. Three plays later, Jonathan Williams scored from two yards out to leave the score at 34-28 heading into the break.
Rice scored on its opening possession of the third quarter to establish some breathing room as Sam McGuffie ran 17-yards to the endzone to make it 41-28 at the 11:24 mark.
Michael Barbour converted a 31-yard field goal after the ensuing 12-play drive that took 4:12 off the clock but the Owls responded with McGuffie's second touchdown of the day with 7:12 left in the period, a 66-yard toss from McHargue down the right sideline that would cap off the third-quarter scoring at 48-31.
After Rice stretched its lead even further with two touchdowns in the first 6:11 of the final quarter, Davis finished a seven-play drive with a one-yard run that sliced the Owl lead to 62-38 at the 6:40 mark. That would be the final score of the contest as Rice kept the ball and ran out the clock.
East Carolina plays its final regular season game Friday, Nov. 26, hosting SMU at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The Pirates will honor their seniors before the contest, which is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and will be nationally televised on CBS College Sports.