ECU outkicked by Tulane in 36-33 OT loss
Cairo Santos kicked five field goals, including a 42-yard game winner in overtime, to give Tulane a 36-33 win over East Carolina in a Conference USA matchup Saturday.
Both teams matched each other with two overtime touchdowns but East Carolina's third possession drive stalled and Harvey missed a 42-yard field goal, giving Tulane the opening it needed to send Santos in for the game-winning score when it took over the ball.
"As a kicker, you always like the games that you kick a lot and it was actually a lot of fun going out there," said Santos, who credited quarterback Devin Powell with guiding the team to victory. "If it came down to me, I just want to win for my team and I did it for them."
In overtime, East Carolina scored on its opening play with a 25-yard pass from Shane Carden to Reese Wiggins. Tulane responded with a 25-yard TD pass from Powell to Ryan Grant, then followed up with a 7-play drive capped by a 6-yard TD pass from Powell to Grant. East Carolina then scored on a 2-yard rush by Cooper, but it's follow up drive fell short.
"Without a doubt I set up for the field goal on the first play," said coach Curtis Johnson, "because when you have the best kicker in the nation, that's what you do."
The victory gave Tulane its first three-game winning streak since 2004.
The Green Wave (5-2, 3-0) relied on Santos, and a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown by Derrick Strozier, to keep the game close as East Carolina (4-2, 2-1) racked up 543 total yards of offense, including 480 yards passing and a touchdown by Carden.
Although East Carolina dominated the passing game, with Carden completing 41 of 55 passes, the contest largely became a kicking duel. Santos, the defending Lou Groza Award winner, hit five of his six attempts in the game, while Harvey hit four of seven.
The Pirates struck first with a 21-yard field goal by Harvey, followed by a 30-yarder in the second quarter, and a 22-yarder and a 26-yarder in the fourth quarter. Vintavious Cooper tied the game at 19 on a 2-yard touchdown run and East Carolina drove the ball to the Tulane 25 in the final moments of the fourth quarter but Harvey was unable to hit the 42-yarder.
Santos hit field goals in each quarter of regulation.