ADA, Okla. – Clinging to seven point lead with 41 seconds remaining, junior safety Devin Price picked off ECU quarterback Rocky Moore in the end zone to give the Tigers a 31-24 win over East Central and claim their ninth straight season opener. Kris Oliver scored three rushing touchdowns and Austin Warford threw for 221 yards and a touchdown.
Both teams were held scoreless on the first two possessions. East Central got on the scoreboard first on their third offensive possession of the first quarter. They moved 75 yards on five plays, including a 47-yard pass from ECU quarterback Rocky Moore to Nathan Pickett. Moore found an open receiver in the end zone three players to put them up 7-0 with 2:15 left in the first quarter.
Ouachita answered in the second quarter with a four play, 60-yard drive. Warford found Evian Hill on a 43-yard strike to open the drive and put the Tigers on the ECU 12 yard line. Three plays later, Warford hit Ke’Vontae Pope at the goal line for a six-yard touchdown reception to tie it up 7-7.
Ouachita regained possession with 4:49 left in the second quarter. The Tigers drove 53 yards in six plays, highlighted by three receptions of 15 plus yards and a five yard touchdown run by Kris Oliver. ECU got the ball back with 2:00 minutes left in the half. They drove down to the Ouachita 25 yard line but were stopped on a second and 10 by a great open field tackle from Luke Holt to keep the clock running. A fumbled snap on the next play forced a 47-yard field goal attempt that fell short. Ouachita ended the first half with a 14-7 lead.
Ouachita opened the second half with a scoring driving stretching 75 yards. A 34-yard reception by Evian Hill moved the Tigers into the ECU side of the field. Oliver would cross the goal line on an eight-yard run for his second rushing score of the game.
Trailing 21-7, East Central answered quickly moving 84 yards on four plays. Moore hit Nathan Pickett for an 82 yard reception on the second play of the drive. Moore threw his second touchdown pass of the game to make it a 21-14 Ouachita lead.
Ouachita increased their lead to thanks to the big leg of freshman kicker Cole Antley. His 46-yard field goal capped of a 10 play, 46-yard drive and gave Ouachita a 10 point lead. The Tigers held ECU on their next possession, but a fumble on the punt return gave ECU the ball on the Ouachita 31 yard line. On the next play, ECU connected on their third touchdown pass to cut the lead to 24-21.
East Central scored on their first possession in the fourth quarter with a 28-yard field goal to tie the game 24-24 and seemed to have momentum going their way. The Ouachita offense responded in a big way on their next possession. The Tigers ran the ball on eight straight plays, with Brandon Marks and Oliver each carrying the ball four times. Oliver found pay dirt with a four yard run off the left side for his third rushing touchdown. The Tigers held a 31-24 lead with 3:22 remaining.
Ouachita held East Central to three plays on their next possession and got the ball back with 5:06 keft to play and looked to run out the clock. A costly holding penalty forced the Tigers to give ECU the ball back on their own 29 yard line with 1:49 left in the game.
On their first play, ECU connected on a 42-yard play pass play, giving them a first down on the Ouachita 29 yard line. After earning a second first down, ECU had possession on the Ouachita 15 with 45 seconds left to play. On a third and 10, ECU’s Moore overthrew his receiver in the end zone with the ball landing right in the hands of Ouachita’s Devin Price. The Tigers walked away with a 31-24 win and go to 1-0 in 2015.
Ouachita gained 436 yards of total offense. They gained 215 rushing yards while holding ECU to 34 yards of rushing. Ouachita also finished with 221 passing yards.
Kris Oliver rushed for 100 yards and three touchdowns. Brandon Marks rushed for 48 yards.
Ke’Vontae Pope caught six passes for 81 yards and one touchdown. Evian Hill caught two passes for 82 yards.
Austin Warford rushed for 66 yards and threw for 221 yards and a touchdown.
Cole Antley went 1-1 on field goal attempts with a 46-yarder and 4-4 on PATs.
Alex Myres led the Tigers with 10 tackles.
The defense forced two turnovers. Chris Leger recovered one fumble and Devin Price grabbed one interception. ?