East Carolina–UCF football rivalry
|First meeting||September 21, 1991
East Carolina 47, UCF 25
|Latest meeting||October 1, 2016
UCF 47, East Carolina 29
|All-time series||East Carolina leads, 10–5|
|Largest victory||East Carolina, 44–7 (2015)|
|Longest win streak||East Carolina, 4 (1991–1996, 2006–2009)|
|Current win streak||UCF, 1 (2016–present)|
The East Carolina–UCF football rivalry is an American college football rivalry game played by the East Carolina Pirates football team of East Carolina University and the UCF Knights football team of the University of Central Florida. The teams first met in 1991, but for the majority of the rivalry both teams were members of the same conference – first Conference USA (2005–2012), and now the American Athletic Conference (2014–present).
East Carolina holds the advantage in the overall win-loss record in the rivalry series, 10–5. The series has been marked by periods of alternating winning streaks. East Carolina won four of the first five games, but UCF has won four of the last five. Five of the games in the series have been decided by seven points or fewer, while three were decided by more than twenty points.
First Games (1991–1996)
The Pirates have been considered one of UCF's main rival's due to the number of meetings and the comparable size of the programs. East Carolina joined Division I-A (FBS) in 1978, while UCF did so in 1996. The Pirates joined C-USA in 1997, and the Knights followed from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in 2005. The similarities and histories between the two programs fuel the fire in this rivalry. The first game in the series was played on September 21, 1991 between coach Bill Lewis's Pirates and coach Gene McDowell's Knights in Orlando, Florida. The Pirates won the first four games of the series, in 1991, 1993–94 and 1996.
Conference foes (2005–present)
Beginning in 2005, both teams started playing annually as members of C-USA. In 2005 the Knights gained their first football victory over East Carolina, a 30–20 victory in Greenville, North Carolina. After the win, the Knights would lose the next four contests. Since 2010, the Knights have won two of the past three match-ups, losing to the Pirates in Greenville in 2011. From its one-sided domination by East Carolina in its first few years, the East Carolina–UCF football rivalry evolved into one of the most evenly matched and hardest fought during the two teams time in Conference USA (C-USA). The games often affected the standings in the conference's eastern divisions, and evenly more frequently affected whether a team qualified for a bowl game.
The contest between UCF and East Carolina determined the winner of the C-USA Eastern Division numerous times. In 2007, UCF's only conference loss came at the hands of the Pirates. In 2008, the Pirates returned the favor and won in overtime to secure the C-USA East title. A UCF loss at East Carolina also determined them as the Eastern Division champions in 2009, while a UCF win at home was the difference in 2010 and 2012.
Conference realignment changed the rivalry once again, when UCF was admitted to the Big East Conference (later realigned as the American Athletic Conference), an Automatic Qualifying conference, for the 2013 season. In 2012, it was announced that the Pirates would follow the Knights to The American in 2014 as an all-sports member. In 2012, the series conclusion with both schools as members of C-USA, the Knights earned a 40–20 victory over the Pirates.
In May 2014, The American announced that as of the 2015 season, both schools will be a member of the East Division.
Since 1991, the Pirates and Knights have played twelve times. East Carolina leads the series 10–5. The game has been played in two cities and three stadiums: Dowdy–Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina, and the Citrus Bowl and Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando, Florida. East Carolina leads the series in Greenville (6–3) and in Orlando (4–2).
|East Carolina victories||UCF victories|
|1||September 21, 1991||Orlando, FL||East Carolina||47–25|
|2||September 18, 1993||Greenville, NC||East Carolina||41–17|
|3||November 12, 1994||Greenville, NC||East Carolina||23–20|
|4||September 28, 1996||Greenville, NC||East Carolina||28–7|
|5||October 29, 2005||Greenville, NC||UCF||30–20|
|6||November 4, 2006||Orlando, FL||East Carolina||23–10|
|7||October 6, 2007||Greenville, NC||East Carolina||52–38|
|8||November 2, 2008||Orlando, FL||East Carolina||13–10|
|9||September 26, 2009||Greenville, NC||East Carolina||19–14|
|10||October 30, 2010||Orlando, FL||UCF||49–35|
|11||November 19, 2011||Greenville, NC||East Carolina||38–31|
|12||October 4, 2012||Orlando, FL||UCF||40–20|
|13||December 4, 2014||Greenville, NC||UCF||32–30|
|14||November 19, 2015||Orlando, FL||East Carolina||44–7|
|15||October 1, 2016||Greenville, NC||UCF||47–29|
|16||October 14, 2017||Orlando, FL|
|Series: East Carolina leads 10–5|
Most rivalries are marked by frequent close games, unexpected upsets, and memorable moments; the evenly matched East Carolina–UCF rivalry has provided many. Four of the games in the series have been decided by seven points or fewer, while three were decided by more than twenty points. In terms of all-time winning percentage, only a few points separate the Pirates (.520) and the Knights (.523). A few of the most notable games of the rivalry are described below.
After going into the half leading 28–17, UCF took a surprising downturn in the second half. In the third quarter alone, the Knights turned the ball over five times, including two interceptions by Kyle Israel, one interception from Michael Greco, and two lost fumbles between Israel and running back Kevin Smith. The Pirates converted three of the turnovers into scores, and with a kick return outscored UCF 28–3 in the third to earn a 52–38 win. The 52 points were the most for East Carolina since a 2002 victory over Houston.
The loss was the only conference contest dropped all season, with the Knights going on to their first conference championship in program history with a 44–25 victory over Tulsa in the championship game. Smith, with 147–yards in the game, would become UCF's first consensus All-American, and finished in eighth place with 55 total points and three first-place votes for the Heisman Trophy.
Both teams entered the 2008 game on different tracks. The Knights were the defending conference champions, but held a 2–6 record compared to the Pirates 5–3 record. After getting within one-score, East Carolina tailback Norman Whitley tied the game at 10 with a rushing touchdown with 5:11 remaining in the fourth quarter. On the first play of overtime, Pirates freshman cornerback Emanuel Davis intercepted UCF quarterback Michael Greco. East Carolina would win the game on a 39–yard field goal. The Pirates would win their first C-USA Championship in 2008, and they would repeat in 2009. The Pirates would finish the season 9–5, while the Knights finished 4–8.
2014: Hail Mary
Entering the game with identical 8–3 records (UCF 6–1, ECU 5–2 American), East Carolina looked to upset UCF's hope of winning a second consecutive conference title. After UCF took a 26–9 lead with 7:39 left in the third quarter, the Pirates scored 21 unanswered to take a 30–26 lead with 2:17 left in the game. The Knights turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert on 4th and 20 with 1:47 remaining. Poor clock management by the Pirates enabled the Knights to get the ball back at their own 35 with ten seconds left. UCF QB Justin Holman completed a 14-yard out route to WR Josh Reese with five seconds remaining. As time expired, Holman completed a 51-yard Hail Mary pass to WR Breshad Perriman for the score, giving the Knights a 32–30 win and share of the conference title.
- 2005 NCAA conference realignment
- 2010–13 Big East Conference realignment
- East Carolina–NC State rivalry
- Mid-American Conference
- South Florida–UCF football rivalry
- College Football Data Warehouse, East Carolina vs. UCF. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
- "Divided loyalties for booster Dowdy". Orlando Sentinel. September 25, 2009. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- Iliana Limón (June 29, 2013). "Big East finally announces UCF is joining league". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "It's Official! UCF Joins BIG EAST Conference". University of Central Florida. 2011-12-07. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- At the time UCF and East Carolina announced their respective conference moves, their destination conference was known as the Big East Conference. Following a 2013 split of the conference along football lines, the two schools' new league now operates as the American Athletic Conference.
- "Big East to add Tulane, East Carolina". USA Today. 2012-11-27. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- East Carolina was originally invited to join the then-Big East for football only. Shortly after the conference split was formalized, East Carolina's membership was upgraded to all-sports. Associated Press (March 27, 2013). "All 19 East Carolina sports on move". ESPN.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "Tulane, ECU to Join Big East in '14, Leaving C-USA". ABC News. 2012-11-27. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "American Announces Football Divisional Alignment For 2015". American Athletic Conference. May 30, 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- "Division I-A All-Time Winning Percentage". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- "East Carolina 52, UCF 38". ESPN. 20087-10-06. Retrieved 2012-12-11. Check date values in:
- "George O'Leary Makes His Mark at UCF: Part 8 of 8 - The History of UCF Football". University of Central Florida Athletics Association. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- "UCF's Smith Secures Consensus All-America Honor". University of Central Florida Athletics Association. 2007-12-09. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- "Expanded Heisman Trophy voting results". MSNBC. December 2007. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- "Hartman nails 39-yarder as E. Carolina beats UCF in OT". ESPN. 2008-11-02. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- "UCF needs Hail Mary on final play to nullify East Carolina rally". ESPN. 2014-12-04. Retrieved 2012-12-05.