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GREENVILLE, N.C. (hokiesports.com) – East Carolina quarterback James Summers rushed for 169 yards and threw for 110 yards, helping the Pirates rally from a 14-0 deficit to beat Virginia Tech 35-28 in a non-conference game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday.
The loss marked the Hokies’ second straight to the Pirates, who downed the Tech in Blacksburg last year. Tech lost in Greenville, North Carolina, for the first time since 1992.
“The good thing for us is we’re getting ready to enter conference play,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “Everything is still there … the ACC championship, the Orange Bowl … the whole deal is still there. But we’ve got to become a better football team to enter into that mix. It’s vey obvious what we need to do.”
East Carolina scored 28 consecutive points at one stretch after the Hokies scored two touchdowns off Pirate turnovers.
Tech trailed 35-21 after a 41-yard touchdown run by Summers with 3:43 left in the third quarter. The Hokies cut into that lead, getting a 5-yard touchdown run by Brenden Motley with 8:18 left in the game. The big play came on a 60-yard completion from Motley to Cam Phillips, and the touchdown capped a 95-yard drive.
Tech had two more chances to score in the final five minutes. One drive ended when Bucky Hodges couldn’t corral a fourth-down pass from Motley that would have given the Hokies a first down in ECU territory. The final chance came at the end of the game when Tech got the ball to its 41 and tried a “Hail Mary” that fell incomplete.
Motley led the Hokies with 366 of their 439 yards of offense. He completed 20 of 35 for 281 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 85 yards and a score.
“When you look at it, in the first half, there were two scores we let get away,” Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “The difference between winning and losing is one to two, sometimes three or four plays, and that’s where we were at today. We were down in the low red [zone] and had an opportunity to I believe tie the game up, and we had a misfortunate read. The next thing you know, it’s a turnover. You’re right there, and we didn’t put it away.
“The fact of the matter is I like this team. I like this group. If we can eliminate a few things, we’ve got a chance to move the ball. When you look at it, regardless of the situation and regardless of the penalties, we left some plays out there that would have helped our team win. We don’t have any excuses. We’ve got to get better.”
Summers, who went into the game as the backup to Blake Kemp, rushed for his 169 yards on 21 carries, and he completed 5 of 8 for the 110 yards and a score. East Carolina finished 410 yards.
“I thought, for the most part, we were in pretty good shape, but we missed a bunch of tackles,” Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “A couple of times, we had him [Summers] in the hole, and we missed the tackle. Those are some areas we have to look at to make sure we’re not collision hitting because we don’t teach that. Then they made a couple of big plays down the field, and that turned out to be the deciding factor in the game. We’re disappointed right now, but we’ll regroup and get ready to go.”The Hokies will begin conference play next Saturday against Pittsburgh at Lane Stadium. Kickoff is slated for noon.