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Sunday, December 10, 2023


Cougars pulverize Pirates for sixth straight win

Charles Sims ran for a team-high 84 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.    Brianna Leigh Morrison  |  The Daily Cougar

The Cougars are known for their high-powered offense that often has to make up for the miscues its  defense.

In a bit of role reversal the much-maligned defense complemented the offense as UH defeated ECU 56-3 Saturday at Robertson Stadium.

“We executed in all phases,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “We made plays when we needed to offensively. We got everybody involved. We were able to run the ball extremely effectively early in the game, which helped us get into a rhythm offensively. We were able to pressure the quarterback, we gave up some yards but all in all it was a great team effort.”

The Pirates were limited to 21 rushing yards on 30 attempts. The Cougars (6-0, 2-0 Conference USA) recorded four interceptions and nine sacks, and they did it without key starters in the secondary in Chevy Bennett, D.J. Hayden and Colton Valencia

After ECU senior quarterback Dominique Davis threw his third pick, he was replaced by sophomore Rio Johnson. Sumlin said the defense used a variety of ways to fluster the Pirates.

“We blitzed them, we rushed,” Sumlin said. “We played some different looks in the back end and up front. We went to what amounted to a four-down front with two lineman as pass rushers.”

With the Pirates (1-4, 1-1) threatening in the second quarter, linebacker Phillip Steward grabbed his first interception of the game with 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter. That led to a 4-yard touchdown run from running back Charles Sims to extend the UH advantage to 25.

On ECU’s ensuing possession, Davis threw an interception to freshman linebacker Derrick Mathews. Quarterback Case Keenum led an 8-play, 35-yard drive capped off by an 8-yard touchdown reception by Patrick Edwards with 3:54 to go in the first half.

The Pirates received the kickoff to start the quarter, and had possession for one play before turning it over again. Senior running back Michael Hayes responded with a 19-yard touchdown run to make it 42-3.

UH will get its first bye week of the season next week, giving players hampered by injuries time to recover.

“Nobody is 100 percent,” Sumlin said. “Every team is playing without guys, and everyone is playing with guys who are a little dinged up. The bye comes at a good time for us, and we’re going to take advantage of it.”

The Cougars’ next matchup is the Homecoming game against Marshall (2-4, 1-1) on Oct. 22 at Robertson Stadium.

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