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WOODWARD: Pirates still in bottom tier of AAC

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East Carolina's head coach Mike Houston, right, and other coaches watch from the home sideline at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday. South Florida won the game 45-20 to drop ECU's American Athletic Conference record this season to 0-4.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, October 28, 2019

East Carolina football players, coaches and fans could envision a breakthrough win leading up to Saturday's game against South Florida at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

How would they celebrate an American Athletic Conference victory against a team not named Connecticut? Would the postgame emotions be especially raw? What would be the updated path to a six-win regular season and maybe even a bowl game?

Tyler Snead returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and a 7-0 ECU lead.

A perfect start. It was happening.

But the rest of the day for the Pirates was a blur.

USF dizzied ECU, winning 45-20 behind 347 rushing yards to keep ECU winless in the American Athletic Conference. Four losses by an average margin of defeat of 20 points.

Saturday's result was ECU's most surprising of the season, and it shouldn't drastically change the optimism for the Pirates under first-year coach Mike Houston, but it reinforced he came into a long-term rebuilding project and this year is not going to feature much success in the AAC.

Among all the blurriness, which included a weak homecoming crowd that only weakened as the game progressed and the Bulls built a tidy storm to hover over the hosts, was the creation of a clear line. The Bulls are still fighting to remain in the middle portion of the AAC pecking order, above the three-team lowest tier consisting of Tulsa, Connecticut and East Carolina.

Tulsa had a senior-laden team in 2016 and enjoyed a 10-win campaign, but during the 2017 and '18 seasons, the Golden Hurricane, UConn and ECU posted an 8-40 combined league record.

This year the trio is 0-12 in league play -- each team at 0-4 -- and Tulsa has been the most competitive in games. On the same day that ECU couldn't run with the Bulls, Tulsa missed a game-winning field goal at the final buzzer for a 42-41 loss to league champion hopeful Memphis.

UConn is in its final year in the American, and the Pirates hope this is their final season of being in contention for last place in their division.

ECU has a 3-5 record and still should best the 3-9 record it finished with each in 2016, '17 and '18.

The Pirates will play both Connecticut and Tulsa in late November. Those are fitting games to end the regular season.

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

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ECU

November 12, 2019

East Carolina basketball's road-heavy start to the season continues tonight against Appalachian State.

It is the first in-state opponent for ECU, which beat Virginia Military Institute a week ago and then lost Friday night at Navy, 62-57. App. State also is 1-1.

East Carolina at Appalachian State,…

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November 12, 2019

Ninety-four points, zero wins.

East Carolina’s football team was dealt that harsh reality in its first two games of November, scoring 43 in a three-point loss to Cincinnati at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and then on Saturday producing even more points — 51 — but also allowing more in a…

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November 11, 2019

SMU quarterback Shane Buechele had options on the final offensive play Saturday to finish off a 59-51 win against East Carolina.

It was fourth-and-3 with 55 seconds remaining at the Pirate 39-yard line. ECU had already taken its final timeout, and SMU then called a timeout after shifting to a pooch…

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Clemson, obviously, would be No. 1. South Carolina would be fourth thanks to its win over Georgia.

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Tucked in a super clean and sometimes sleepy nook in Dallas is the campus at SMU, a private school that has stirred to life this fall behind a nationally ranked football team that provides excitement for its tidy, polite fan base with a fun-to-watch, prolific offense and an outside-the-box…

E Carolina SMU Football

November 09, 2019

DALLAS — East Carolina competed for four quarters against a ranked team for the second straight week, yet a similar feeling and still winless this season in the American Athletic Conference after a 59-51 defeat to No. 23 SMU.

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E Carolina SMU Football

November 09, 2019

DALLAS — Tyler Snead, all 5-foot-7 and 167 pounds of him, chased and nearly grabbed NCAA history Saturday afternoon at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in East Carolina football's 59-51 loss at SMU.

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E Carolina SMU Football

November 09, 2019

DALLAS — SMU continued its banner football season, giving some of its longtime fans more memories of the 1980s with an offense that produced droves of points and yards again at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

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November 09, 2019

Seth LeDay's jumper with 14 seconds to play in the second half on Friday night pulled the East Carolina basketball team within a point of Navy, but when the Pirates fouled in the final minute, the Midshipmen made their free throws to preserve a 62-57 win in the Veteran's Classic in Annapolis.

The…

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November 09, 2019

Q: What is your favorite from of social media?

A: Probably Instagram, because I just like looking at the pictures.

Q: Could you kick with your left foot?

A: I could, but it would probably hurt. I don’t think I could very well, maybe like 12 yards. If my other leg fell off or something and I…

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