Cougars hit stride at the right time, roll ECU

Written by Ryan Musich
HOUSTON, Texas—Your Houston Cougars came out firing on all cylinders Saturday afternoon, and you could sense a new beginning. Quarterback D’Eriq King made his first home start on homecoming day and did he ever not disappoint, leading the Coogs to a 52-7 AAC victory.

King came out firing, moving the offense downfield quickly. He led Houston on an 11 play 75-yard drive that resulted in a rushing touchdown from King. Houston quickly went up 7-0. After a quick 3 and out from ECU, King and the Cougars offense emphatically and rapidly went back to work.

Later in the first quarter, off of a Terrell Williams interception, Duke Catalon found a big hole and, would hit it hard as he would hit paydirt. Catalon’s touchdown extended the Coogs lead to 14-0.

ECU went on to replace their starting quarterback Thomas Sirk, and Gardner Minshew took over. Talk about a shot in the arm, Minshew came in and played fantastically. After making it look easy, Houston’s defense had trouble with Minshew for quite awhile. In the second quarter, Minshew led the Pirates on a 16 play 70-yard drive, which really helped Minshew’s day get off to a hot start.

Houston’s King would develop a bond with Wide Receiver Steven Dunbar on the day. The two connected for quite a few big plays as in the first half, King linked up with Dunbar for a beautiful 32-yard floater down the sideline that would put Houston in position to score on that drive. Running back Mulbah Car would finish off that drive with a touchdown.

The two teams traded blows to start the second-half. Minshew would drive ECU down the field at will on the Pirates first possession out of the half. Gardner Minshew found Trevon Brown for his second touchdown of the game, but right after that King would hit Steven Dunbar for a quick slant route, and Dunbar made a house call for six. The catch and run went for 75-yards.

Minshew quickly tried to answer on the next Pirates drive, but he would fumble the ball on the handoff. Houston recovered and capitalized on the very next play. King found Bonner again on another huge play through the air. On a 62-yard catch and run, the Coogs continued to raise the Pirates deficit. Houston was on top 42-17.

Kicker Caden Novikoff extended Houston’s lead to 45-17, and that was the score at the end of the third quarter. Minshew would continue to come up short on drives in the second half. In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, Minshew was picked off by Senior Brandon McDowell, as McDowell returned it 74-yards for the score. Coogs continued to roll as the score was 52-17.

This game belonged to the Houston offense. I’ve mentioned many times that King has given this offense the revival it needed. Another part of the Cougars offense I haven’t mentioned was the running game. Catalon and Car did a fantastic job today. Houston decided to pass a lot today which left the backfield not getting a lot of carries.

This team is ready to make a run at the American Conference Championship and with a new quarterback in the mix, the sky is the limit for this team.

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