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ECU, Tulane set for on-campus matchup

Georgia Tech Tulane Football

In this photo taken Sept. 4, 2014, Yulman Stadium is viewed in New Orleans, La. The opening of the stadium brought college football back to Tulane's campus for the first time since 1974. (AP Photo/Brett Marrtel)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Friday, November 9, 2018

Yulman Stadium only seats 30,000 people, but coach Willie Fritz describes it as a perfect fit for Tulane football.

Most importantly to Fritz and the Green Wave, it is on campus.

East Carolina has played Tulane in New Orleans six times, going 3-3 in those contests held in the massive New Orleans Superdome, and Saturday’s game at Yulman Stadium will be the Pirates’ first experience of facing Tulane in a venue totally dedicated to the Green Wave.

“We feel like it is a game-changer and is right in the middle of campus and seats 30,000, but every seat is a perfect seat,” said Fritz, a third-year coach whose team has won two straight games for a 4-5 season record, while ECU is 2-6 (0-5 in the American Athletic Conference) and enters on a four-game losing streak. “It’s easy for the students to get to. Sometimes when you get in those big stadiums and you are sitting up top, there can be kind of a rumor of a game going on down there on the field. That was probably the case for us at the Superdome.”

Fritz went on to say that he probably wouldn’t be at Tulane if it were not for Yulman Stadium. It opened Sept. 6, 2014, during a loss to Georgia Tech and has been mostly half-full for games this season.

Tulane’s last home game was a Oct. 20, a 27-23 loss to SMU with an announced crowd of 13,987.

“I wouldn’t have taken the job, to be honest with you, if we didn’t have this on-campus stadium,” said Fritz, who formerly was the head coach at Georgia Southern and before that Sam Houston State. “They did a really nice job with it.”

Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium was at about one-fourth of its 50,000 capacity last Saturday for the Pirates’ 59-41 loss to Memphis. 

But boosted by its season ticket sales, ECU ranks third in the conference in average home attendance at 33,854, a figure that does not represent people actually in attendance at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium amid the Pirates’ fourth straight losing season.

Unbeaten national darling UCF is the league-leader at 42,888, followed by South Florida’s average of 34,695. Tulane’s average attendance is 16,797.

The Pirates, who are 0-2 on the road this year, are the only American team that has played less than three road games.

ECU coach Scottie Montgomery has stressed turnover ratio again this week, and his team continuing to surge forward on offense with standout freshman quarterback Holton Ahlers. ECU’s only giveaway against Memphis came on a muffed punt return by Trevon Brown.

Tulane, which is coming off a surprising 41-15 rout at USF, is a 13.5-point favorite over the Pirates.

“If we go on the road and turn the ball over, guys, it will be a tough slate,” Montgomery said. “No matter where you are, turning the ball over is what hurts you. South Florida turned the ball over against (Tulane) in some ways you typically don’t see.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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