for this game

Pinkney rallies East Carolina past Tulane

Sep 14, 2008 - 1:38 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- A week after East Carolina celebrated an upset win over West Virginia, the 20th-ranked Pirates barely survived their Conference USA opener.

Patrick Pinkney tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jamar Bryant with 1:40 remaining Saturday as East Carolina rallied for a 28-24 victory over Tulane, which also was beginning conference play.

East Carolina (3-0, 1-0 C-USA East), which thinks it can challenge for a BCS bid this season, improved to 3-0 for the first time since 1999 - but not before it got all it could handle from the Green Wave. The Pirates also overcame four turnovers.

"This win was a team effort," Pinkney said. "We give Tulane credit. Their defense played hard and they were very physical. They are a good football team and they will win a lot of games this year."

In Tulane's 20-6 loss to Alabama last week, the Green Wave allowed two touchdowns on special teams and were victimized again Saturday. Quentin Cotton returned a blocked field goal 44 yards to give East Carolina a 7-0 lead.

Tulane erased seven-point deficits on three occasions as they teams traded scores and took a 24-21 lead on Ross Thevenot's 28-yard field goal 1:20 into the fourth quarter.

But Pinkney drove the Pirates 80 yards on nine plays for the winning score. He got the drive going with a 27-yard completion to Darryl Freeney to the Tulane 48, then ripped off a 14-yard run for another first down.

"They kept fighting and believing and I was really proud of the way those guys hung in there," East Carolina coach Skip Holtz said. "I thought they did a good job in getting in there and competing."

After Tulane (0-2, 0-1 C-USA West) gained one first down on its final possession, linebacker Pierre Bell sealed the win with an interception at midfield in the final minute, handing the Green Wave another tough loss.

"They made plays when they needed to and we didn't," Tulane linebacker Logan Kelley said. "They had some people step up when they needed to and we didn't."

Pinkney completed 22-of-32 passes for 260 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. His 52-yard TD strike to Norman Whitley gave East Carolina a 21-14 lead with 5:45 left in the third quarter.

But Tulane pulled even for the third time on Andre Anderson's 1-yard TD plunge less than three minutes later.

"We made a zillion mistakes," Holtz said. "We turned the ball over. It was five times inside the 40-yard line when you count the roughing the passer penalty. You just can't do that to a defensive football team (like Tulane)."

Kevin Moore completed 21-of-37 passes for 236 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for the Green Wave, including a 47-yard TD strike to Jeremy Williams.

"They didn't really give us much of a chance on that last possession," Moore said. "You have to make plays. We had them on the ropes."

"I think it's just a learning experience," Tulane coach Bob Toledo said of the Green Wave's inability to close out a game. "I think it speaks volumes for East Carolina. They know how to finish a game."