11/06/09 — Va. Tech sinks ECU

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Va. Tech sinks ECU

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 6, 2009 1:49 PM

GREENVILLE -- Following last season's stunning defeat at the hands of East Carolina in Charlotte, Virginia Tech was not about to overlook the Pirates a second time.

The Hokies' vaunted defense flexed its muscle and physically punished the Pirates 16-3 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Thursday night.

The contest was far from flawless as both teams played for field position, took a significant number of penalties and turned the ball over on multiple series.

"It's not enough to play hard, you have to play smart," East Carolina head coach Skip Holtz said. "Some of those penalties weren't out in the open, or obvious, but they certainly were costly."

Neither team could muster much offense in the second half.

East Carolina (5-4 overall) never made it inside the red zone after the intermission, while Virginia Tech (6-3) managed just a field goal in the game's final moments following a Patrick Pinkney interception.

"We knew this would be a low-scoring game," said Holtz. "I am proud of how our defense competed. We had opportunities to make some plays in one-on-one situations and we couldn't come down with the ball."

The bowl-eligible Hokies (6-3) controlled the tempo in the opening half, but came away with little to show for their efforts due to a turnover at the East Carolina 1-yard line.

With his team ahead 6-0 early in the second quarter, Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor broke free and raced toward the end zone. As he lunged for the goal line, Taylor lost his handle on the ball and the fumble rolled out of the back of the end zone for an automatic touchback.

After a failed Pirate possession, Taylor shouldered the load on the Hokies' ensuing drive and scored on a 13-yard run.

East Carolina put together its best series of the half in the two-minute offense as Pinkney led the Pirates down the field for a 24-yard field goal by Ben Hartman as the second quarter expired.

Pinkney finished with 16 completions for 167 yards and one interception. Dominique Lindsay led the Pirates with 69 yards rushing on 13 totes.

Taylor managed the Hokies' offense to the tune of 17 completions for 137 yards through the air and 68 additional yards on the ground. Ryan Williams carried the ball 26 times for 179 yards and eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark.

East Carolina committed three turnovers and drew eight flags for 80 yards.

"It's frustrating to lose because I thought we played pretty well overall," said Holtz. "There are a lot of guys in the locker room right now that played well enough for us to win tonight."

The Pirates return to action Nov. 15 at Tulsa in a rematch of last year's Conference USA championship game won by ECU.