NEW ORLEANS For an unsettling time Saturday, Patrick Pinkney was more perplexed than proficient, a quarterback seemingly lost in the pocket.
Also for a long time, No.14 East Carolina looked as if it might wind up lost in the Louisiana Superdome's vastness.
But as good quarterbacks and teams do, Pinkney and the Pirates pulled it together at the end to overcome tenacious Tulane, 28-24, and moved their record to 3-0.
With 5:46 remaining and trailing 24-21, ECU's defense hunkered down one more time, made a pivotal stop and got the ball back after Pinkney's fumble in Pirates territory.
Moving briskly and efficiently, Pinkney guided the Pirates on an 80-yard drive that culminated with a touchdown pass to a leaping Jamar Bryant, who snared the ball on a slant-and-go route with 1:41 left.
“You've got to make the right decision, be poised,'' said Pinkney, who threw for 64 yards and ran for 11 more on the tell-tale drive.
“It speaks volumes for East Carolina,” said Tulane coach Bob Toledo.
“They know how to finish a game. They make plays when they have to.”
The Pirates' defense, battling with its back to the wall much of the day, quickly built a dike around the Green Wave's offense and sealed the victory on Pierre Bell's interception in the final minute.
Moments later, the players were strolling along the edge of the Superdome wall, slapping hands with the small, but vociferous, ECU crowd.
Near the locker room, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson gave Fitch a big bear hug.