|Ula Tolutau carries the ball at ECU (Karl B. DeBlaker, AP)|
Four plays from the BYU Cougars' game at East Carolina (ECU) stick out as the game changing plays.
1. Adam Pulsipher fumble recovery at the ECU 28-yard line (9:28, 1st Quarter).
Zane Anderson forced the fumble for the Cougars at the end of a 14-yard pass completion. It looked like the Cougar defense was going to get the +3 turnover margin needed for victory.
With the ball already in scoring position, BYU was able to take an early 7-0 lead, which would help keep the Cougars in the game for the next two quarters.
2. ECU quarterback Thomas Sirk 1-yard touchdown run on 4th and Goal (3:09, 1st Quarter).
Giving up the touchdown on 4th and Goal did more than create a tie game. It told the Pirates offense this game was different than its six losses. They were not over matched.
This drive was followed up by a field goal, which gave ECU the upper hand. BYU would have to play catch up the rest of the game.
3. Ula Tolutau dropped for a 2-yard loss on 3rd and Goal at the 2-yard line (0:02, 2nd Quarter).
Right before halftime BYU could have recaptured the lead. Despite facing the worst defense in the nation, the Cougar offense hadn't looked any different than Tanner Mangum's previous three starts. BYU couldn't score a touchdown on a sustained drive.
With 4:14 to play in the half, BYU put together a sustained drive. The Cougar offense drove 70 yards in four minutes. For all their struggles, they just had to go two more yards to take a 14-10 halftime lead. BYU couldn't get it done in the trenches, and Tolutau lost two yards.
Kicking the field goal tied the game, but it gave momentum to ECU. The Pirates came out of the locker room and scored on their next four possessions, while not allowing BYU to get close.
4. Mangum's incomplete pass to Jonah Trinnaman on 4th and Goal (9:09, 4th Quarter).
Trailing 26-10 in the fourth quarter, it was now or never for BYU to make a comeback. BYU drove the ball 80 yards to reach the ECU 4-yard line. With nine minutes left, BYU would be in a good position, if the offense got in the end zone.
The pass to Trinnaman was broken up, and the Cougars' fate was sealed. Although the Cougar defense got the ball back just a minute and a half later, BYU was now desperate. That resulted in Mangum forcing a throw downfield into quadruple coverage. Of course, that pass was intercepted. ECU quickly scored to take a 23-point lead.
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