ECU comeback bid falls short at Tulane

Reversed call helps send Pirates to another frustrating defeat, 24-18 in New Orleans

Trevon Brown, shown here in a game earlier this season, caught two touchdown passes for ECU on Saturday (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

  NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Darnell Mooney caught six passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns to help Tulane hold off East Carolina 24-18 for its third straight victory on Saturday.

  Tulane (5-5, 4-2), which had never posted three consecutive victories in the American Conference, won three in a row for first time since 2013.

  Justin McMillan, who passed for 372 yards, threw three touchdown tosses of over 70 yards as Tulane rolled to a 21-10 lead early in the third. McMillan hit Mooney on an 86-yard scoring strike to start the scoring, nailed Terren Encalade on a 73-yarder in the second and connected with Mooney again, this time on a 79-yard touchdown toss early in the third.

  The Green Wave still had to hold off ECU (2-7, 0-6) as Holton Ahlers nailed Trevon Brown on TD tosses of 80 and 31 yards as the Pirates closed to 21-18 early in the final quarter.

  ECU had four possessions with a chance to take the lead, but were never able to convert.

  The Pirates’ best opportunity to take the lead late ended by the slightest of margins. On fourth-and-9 from the ECU 35, Ahlers’ heave downfield as he eluded defenders was caught by Brown at the Tulane 37. But as Ahlers was on his back on the field after taking a shot to the ribs, officials reviewed the play and determined that Brown’s right foot was on the sideline and called the pass incomplete.

   “Heart-breaking,” Pirates coach Montgomery said. “The drive with Trevon making a play on the sideline, I thought that was going to be a defining moment for the season, and it didn’t happen. Right there at the end, our guys just battled. That was one of the gutsiest performances we’ve had. They played for one another, they played for us, they played for ECU, they played for Pirate Nation tonight.”

  Merek Glover eventually booted a 33-yard field goal to give Tulane a little more breathing room, 24-18, with 7:35 remaining.

  Ahlers threw for 360 yards and ran for another 67. Brown caught eight passes for 161 yards.

ECU’s best opportunity to take the lead late ended by the slightest of margins.