Ahlers’ TD tosses lead East Carolina past South Florida
Holton Ahlers tossed three touchdown passes to help East Carolina post a 44-24 victory over South Florida on Saturday night in an American Athletic Conference matchup at Tampa, Fla.
Rahjai Harris rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, and CJ Johnson caught three passes for 99 yards and two scores for East Carolina (1-2, 1-1 AAC).
Darius Pinnix also caught a touchdown pass, and Jake Verity kicked three field goals while the left-handed Ahlers was 17-of-26 passing for 222 yards for the Pirates.
Johnny Ford rushed for two touchdowns for South Florida (1-3, 0-2). Jordan McCloud completed 26 of 35 passes for 298 yards, and Latrell Williams caught eight passes for 93 yards.
The victory was just the second for East Carolina in 11 meetings with the Bulls.
The Pirates outgained South Florida 432-398.
After the teams combined for 48 first-half points, the defenses carried the way in the second half.
East Carolina scored the first points of the half with 10 seconds left in the third quarter when Ahlers threw a 14-yard strike to Johnson to extend the lead to 38-17.
Verity added fourth-quarter field goals of 42 and 37 yards to boost the margin to 27, while the Bulls were unable to score until backup quarterback Noah Johnson found the end zone on a 15-yard scramble with 31 seconds left.
Ahlers threw two touchdown passes and Harris rushed for two scores as East Carolina held a 31-17 halftime lead.
Ford’s 8-yard run gave South Florida a 7-3 lead with 9:12 left in the first quarter before the Pirates scored the next 21 points. Ahlers threw touchdowns passes of 2 yards to Pinnix and 75 yards to Johnson as East Carolina led 17-7 after the first stanza.
Harris broke loose on a 42-yard scoring scamper with 13:18 left in the half.
Ford scored on a 7-yard run to cut the Bulls’ deficit to 24-14 with 4:58 remaining, but Harris answered with a 10-yard scoring run to push the margin to 17 before South Florida’s Jared Sackett kicked a 31-yard field goal with 33 seconds left to end the first-half scoring.
–Field Level Media