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NCAA Game Summary - East Carolina at Tulsa

(Saturday, December 6th)

Final Score: East Carolina 27, Tulsa 24

Tulsa, OK (Sports Network) - The East Carolina defense came away with seven turnovers, as the Pirates claimed the Conference USA Championship with a 27-24 win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Chapman Stadium.

Norman Whitley ran for 104 yards and a touchdown for the Pirates (9-4, 6-2 C- USA), who stormed to their first conference title in 32 years by winning six of their final seven games. Pat Pinkney completed 10-of-24 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown.

Tulsa (10-3, 7-1) quarterback David Johnson entered the game as the nation's top-rated passer, but he picked the wrong time to turn in perhaps the worst performance of his career. Johnson was intercepted a career-high five times and also lost a fumble, accounting for six of Tulsa's season-high seven turnovers. He threw several other near-interceptions that bounced off of defenders' fingertips. Tarrion Adams had a strong performance out of the backfield, carrying 28 times for 120 yards and two TDs.

Johnson was intercepted on the first play of the game while attempting to go deep, and ECU responded with a nine-play, 83-yard drive, punctuated by Pinkney's 13-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Gidrey.

On Tulsa's next possession, Johnson was intercepted by Travis Simmons, who returned it 72 yards for a score to put the Pirates on top, 14-0. It was the first time all season that Johnson was intercepted on back-to-back drives.

The Golden Hurricane were much more methodical on their next possession, as they marched 72 yards in 14 plays, with Adams plunging into the end zone from the one-yard line.

Tulsa kicker Jarod Tracy later booted a 37-yard field goal to make it a 14-10 game with 11 seconds to play in the first quarter.

The Golden Hurricane took a 17-14 lead at the 10:40 mark of the second quarter, when Adams capped an 11-play, 58-yard drive with another one-yard touchdown run.

ECU tied the score at 17 on a 32-yard field goal by Ben Hartman with 4:46 remaining in the half, which was set up by a fumble recovery deep in Tulsa territory.

The Golden Hurricane fumbled away their first possession of the second half, and on the very next play, Whitley broke free for a 69-yard touchdown run to give ECU a 24-17 lead. Tulsa was held off the scoreboard for the entire third quarter, marking only the fourth time this season that the nation's top offense has been shut out in a quarter.

But Tulsa tied the score at 24 on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Jacob Collums with 8:56 to play in regulation.

ECU answered with a 12-play, 53-yard drive that took 7:13 off the clock, as Hartman accounted for the deciding score on a 36-yard field goal with 1:43 to play.

The Pirates, who scored their first 24 points off Tulsa turnovers, are headed to the Liberty Bowl. Tulsa will await its bowl fate after posting back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in school history.

12/06 16:44:37 ET

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