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East Carolina (2-0) at Virginia Tech (0-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 18th, 1:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lane Stadium/Worsham Field (66,233) -- Blacksburg, Virginia. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: ECU 2-0, VT 0-1. Away Record: ECU 0-0, VT 0-0. Neutral Record: ECU 0-0, VT 0-1. Conference Record: ECU 2-0, VT 0-0. Series Record: Virginia Tech leads, 10-5.
GAME NOTES: The Virginia Tech Hokies will try to build up some confidence following a stunning loss, as they go for their first win of the season this weekend against the East Carolina Pirates in non-conference action at Lane Stadium.
The Hokies entered the season ranked No. 10 in the nation, but after just two weeks they can no longer be found in the Top 25. Following a heart-breaking 33-30 loss to third-ranked Boise State in the opener, Tech appeared to have the right opponent in place to rebound nicely. James Madison however, had no intentions of rolling over and the FCS program instead stunned the Hokies, 21-16, in Blacksburg this past weekend. The loss snapped Tech's 32-game home winning streak against non-conference foes, while also sending the Hokies to their first 0-2 start since 1995. Frank Beamer's club still has plenty of time to turn things around, but a seventh straight double-digit win campaign is now in serious jeopardy.
ECU, on the other hand, enters the game unbeaten under first-year head coach Ruffin McNeill, as the program is off to a 2-0 start for only the third time since 1990. Both victories took place at home and in Conference USA play, with the Pirates following up a thrilling 51-49 season opening win over Tulsa with a much easier 49-27 triumph of Memphis last weekend. This game however, is the first of three straight on the road for ECU, which will also face North Carolina and Southern Miss on the trip.
As for the all-time series, Tech holds a 10-5 advantage over ECU and that includes a 16-3 victory in Greenville last season.
QB Dominique Davis accounted for five TDs, as the Pirates blew past Memphis over the weekend. A first-year starter at ECU, Davis threw for 244 yards and three TDs, while adding two more scores on the ground. It was nice follow up for Davis, who totaled six TDs, including a game-winning 33-yard TD pass on the last play, against Tulsa in the opener. Jonathan Williams added a career day in the win over Memphis, as he toted 17 times for 109 yards and a score, while catching six balls for 50 yards. Dwayne Harris also had six receptions that went for 54 yards and a TD, after snaring seven passes for 121 yards and two scores in the opener.
After yielding 579 total yards to Tulsa in the opener, ECU's defense aimed to improve and the unit did so by limiting Memphis to 413 yards. Many of those yards came with the game well out of hand, so the effort by the defense was even better then the numbers would indicate. ECU also forced Memphis into three turnovers, in addition to recording five sacks. Dustin Lineback enjoyed a career day to pace the defense, as he turned in 13 tackles, including three for a loss, to go with 1.5 sacks. Derek Blacknall also got involved with an INT that he returned 46 yards for a score.
Turnovers did in the Hokies, as they had three costly mishaps in a shocking loss to JMU this past weekend. QB Tyrod Taylor was picked late in the third quarter, with JMU posting the go-ahead points on the ensuing drive, while Darren Evans fumbled on the Dukes' 12-yard line late in final period. JMU would go on to run out the clock following the Evans' fumble with 5:23 remaining. Tech did rush for 238 yards, but managed only 124 yards through the air. Ryan Williams paced the ground game with 91 yards on 20 carries, while Taylor added 86 yards on 13 totes. Taylor also hit on 10-of-16 pass attempts with one TD through the air, but he did account for two of the team's turnovers. Chris Hazley hit on all three of his field goal attempts for Tech, which didn't make the most of its opportunities in JMU territory.
Tech's defense wasn't all that bad for a second straight week, but the unit hasn't played up to its level yet either. For the second game in a row the defense was burnt for a big play, allowing a 77-yard TD run to JMU after giving up a 71-yard TD scamper to Boise State in the opener. The Hokies also failed to force a single turnover, although they did do a nice job in limiting JMU to just 235 total yards. Of those yards, only 114 came on the ground, including the 77-yard run, and it took JMU 41 attempts to gain that yardage. Bruce Taylor paced the defense with 10 stops, including four TFLs, while Steven Friday had seven tackles and one of the team's two sacks.
The Hokies are coming off an embarrassing loss and things aren't about to get any easier against a confident ECU club. Still, Tech should come out with something to prove and its ground attack and defense will make the difference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 35, East Carolina 17
09/15 10:52:39 ET