GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- Paul Smith rushed for two touchdowns and
threw for another to lead Tulsa to a 31-10 win over East Carolina
The Golden Hurricane (5-1, 2-0 Conference USA) continued its
best start since 1982 and recorded second-best final tally of the
Smith finished 15-of-21 through the air for 124 yards with on
interception. He also finished with 42 yards on nine rushes.
"Everybody did a good job. It wasn't anybody in particular,"
Smith said. "We made plays when we had to."
Smith moved into seventh place on Tulsa's career passing list
with 4,431 passing yards, surpassing Jeb Blount (1972-75).
The Tulsa defense, leading C-USA with only 268 yards allowed per
game, gave up 241 total yards to the Pirates (2-4, 1-2). Tulsa held
East Carolina to 126 rushing yards.
"The biggest thing has been us coming out and stopping the
run," Tulsa linebacker Chris Chamberlain said. "It starts with
that and the guys up front have been playing great. It allows the
linebackers to make the plays."
Chamberlain led Tulsa with eight tackles.
"Our defense played well," Tulsa coach Steve Kragthorpe said.
"We took away the run and forced them to pass, which is what we
wanted to do coming into the game."
Tulsa took advantage of a fumble by East Carolina running back
Brandon Simmons on the Pirates' second possession of the game. It
took five running plays to go 29 yards as the Golden Hurricane
jumped to a 7-0 lead with 7:44 left in the first quarter.
East Carolina tied it at 7-7 early in the second quarter when
James Pinkney slipped through the middle of the defense to score on
a five-yard keeper. Pinkney finished 13 of 27 for 92 yards through
the air and with seven carries for 34 yards.
Tulsa retook the lead 14-7 with 28 seconds before halftime after
driving 76 yards when Smith scored his second touchdown on
The Golden Hurricane went up 17-7 on a 41-yard field goal by
Jarod Tracy at 8:30 in the third quarter.
Courtney Tennial, who rushed 22 times for 88 yards and a
touchdown to lead Tulsa's ground attack, scored on a one-yard dive
to make it 24-7 with 12:56 left in the game as the Golden Hurricane
offense took 7:37 to go 91 yards on 17 plays.
"I thought that in the second half they just wore us down,"
East Carolina coach Skip Holtz said. "We just couldn't stop them.
It's obvious why they are conference champs, Liberty Bowl champs
and why they're sItting on top of the pedestal right now in our
Tulsa finished with 234 yards on the ground, including 160 in
the second half.
"Our offensive line did an incredible job," Tennial said.
"They let us grind it out."
East Carolina's second scoring drive was spurred by a 32-yard
scramble by Pinkney, which was his career-long rush. Robert Lee hit
a 31-yard field goal with 11:19 left in the game to make it 24-10.
Tulsa's final score came on a seven-yard pass from Smith to Ryan
Bugg with 5:49 left in the game.