Houston Upsets No. 23 East Carolina

By Yolande Lezine
Updated: September 29, 2008

HOUSTON — The Houston Cougars opened up Conference USA play by defeating No. 23 East Carolina 41-24 before 43,641 at Dowdy Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, South Carolina.

This was Houston’s first win over a ranked opponent since 1996, when they knocked off No. 20 Southern Mississippi. Playing their fourth straight road game after Hurricane Ike sent them out of town for a week, the Cougars dominated ECU on both sides of the football.

Quarterback Case Keenum was 36 of 44 for 399 yards and three touchdowns. Keenmum threw TD passes to Patrick Edwards, Bryce Beall and tight end Mark Hafner. The offense got a huge lift from freshman running back Beall, who had a career-high 132 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the game.

The defense, led by senior defensive end Phillip Hunt, forced three turnovers, while limiting the Pirates to 1-of-13 on third-down conversions.

“I couldn’t be more proud of how this team responded today, based on everything that we’ve been through,” Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “To go on the road in a packed house and beat a ranked opponent is a big deal.”

Houston, who improves to 2-3 (1-0 C-USA) will have a bye week this weekend and return in action on Thursday, October 9th when they host UAB.