Sept. 29, 2007
HOUSTON -T.J. Lawrence missed a game-winning 38-yard field goal with eight seconds left as the University of Houston football team dropped a 37-35 decision to East Carolina Saturday in Conference USA action on John O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium.
Houston (2-2, 1-1 C-USA) came back from a 13-point deficit to get within two, but the Cougars saw their Robertson Stadium-record, six-game home winning streak come to an end. The Pirates (2-3, 1-1 C-USA) earned their fourth win in five tries in Houston.
Lawrence missed three field goals in the game, going wide left from 37 yards and wide right from 38-yards on Houston's final two drives of the game. He also had a 49-yard attempt blocked by ECU's C.J. Wilson with 2:24 left in the first half. Zack Slate recovered the block and ran it back 50 yards to the Houston 11-yard line.
ECU's Chris Johnson finished with 153 yards rushing on 24 carries with a pair of touchdowns to lead all players. He had TD runs of 13 yards in the second quarter and 43 yards midway through the third.
His 43-yard run put UH into a 34-21 hole with 8:15 left in the third quarter. On UH's next drive, Anthony Alridge scored a four-yard run with 4:26 left in the quarter to pull within 34-28, but ECU's Ben Hartman made the margin nine, 37-28, with his 33-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in the quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Donnie Avery ran the ball back 100 yards for a touchdown, tallying the third 100-yard return in UH history and fourth in C-USA history. Ricky Wilson (2003) and Ronnie Powledge (1963) are the two other Cougars to accomplish the feat.
The return closed out the scoring for the night as East Carolina was forced to punt on four of its last five drives. The Cougar defense came up big in the final quarter, holding the Pirates to 15 yards on their final five drives of the night.
Avery finished with a C-USA-record 350 all-purpose yards, eclipsing the previous league mark of 347, set by TCU's Cory Rodgers in 2004. Avery had 189 yards receiving, 161 return yards and three touchdowns.
After a slow start to the game, UH got on the board first with 3:33 left in the first quarter when Case Keenum found Avery on a 64-yard strike down the sideline. The Pirates answered seven seconds into the second quarter with Johnson's first touchdown run.
Keenum left the game in the second quarter with a bruised hand. He had 95 yards passing with a touchdown. He was replaced by Blake Joseph who finished 24-of-29 with 250 yards, 42 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Joseph found Avery on a 36-yard touchdown pass with 7:38 left in the half and later connected with Alridge on a five-yard pass with nine seconds in the half to bring UH to within 21-20 at the half.
The Cougars rolled up 484 yards of total offense, had 23 first downs compared to ECU's 14 and controlled the time of possession 35:01 to 24:59.
Alridge finished with 94 yards rushing, 43 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Teric Williams had six catches for 53 yards.
Rocky Schwartz and Phillip Hunt led the defense with nine and eight tackles, respectively. Schwartz also forced a fumble. Brendan Pahulu finished the night with one-and-a-half sacks, two tackles for loss and an interception.
ECU's Quentin Cotton had 14 tackles, leading all players. He was one of four Pirates to tally double-digit stops, along with Pierre Bell (12), Travis Williams (10) and Van Eskridge (10).
Houston heads back on the road next week, facing No. 22/24 Alabama at 2:07 p.m. CDT in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Fans can hear the game live on 790 AM The Sports Animal with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action, Ted Pardee providing color analysis and Chuck Brown reporting from the sideline. The pregame show is slated to begin one hour before kickoff.
Fans also can follow live stats and video by clicking on the GameTracker and All-Access links at UHCougars.com.