GREENVILLE — There were no last-second heroics for East Carolina on Saturday against Memphis, no fantastic finishes or thrilling comebacks.
The Pirates didn't need any to wipe out a hapless Memphis team, 49-27 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium to give first-year coach Ruffin McNeill a feel-good 2-0 start.
Just six days ago, ECU beat Tulsa 51-49 in a wild game with an answered Hail Mary on the game's final play. With 28 points in the first quarter, ECU erased any need for another magical ending.
"The one thing I did worry about was having a hangover from that win," McNeill said. "I thought our kids did a good job of rising up."
ECU's defense turned two first-quarter turnovers into two touchdowns and quarterback Dominique Davis threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more to give the Pirates their second straight Conference USA win.
Davis was just as happy with a relatively easy win as he was after beating Tulsa.
"You're always excited when you win," Davis said. "It doesn't matter how you win. We're excited to be 2-0 in Conference USA."
The Pirates will turn to their attention to the ACC with three of their next four games against Virginia Tech, North Carolina and N.C. State. They're hoping to replicate the same offensive output in two C-USA games.
Coordinator Lincoln Riley's spread offense cranked out 425 yards, 241 yards in the first half, and showed more than just an ability to find receiver Dwayne Harris. Harris, ECU's star senior receiver, was productive (six catches, 54 yards, one TD) as usual, but he had help.
Senior running back Jonathan Williams rushed 109 yards, with 86 in the first half, and a touchdown.
The Pirates' offense was off in the second half, with Harris' drop of a 50-yard touchdown pass at 2:35 in the third in the third quarter as Exhibit A, which didn't please Riley.
"I would give us a 'B' offensively," Riley said. "We could have scored more points."
ECU's start made up for any lull in the third quarter. A fumble by Memphis quarterback Cannon Smith on the Tigers' first possession set up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Giavanni Ruffin at 10:59 in the first for the 7-0 lead.
Smith, a Miami transfer, followed up his fumble by throwing a pick-six to ECU cornerback Derek Blacknall. Blacknall's 46-yard touchdown return put the Pirates up 14-0.
Harris and Williams each followed with touchdowns in the first. Memphis, which opened the season with a 49-7 loss to Mississippi State, yanked Smith for Ryan Williams, which resulted in a 32-yard touchdown pass to Gregory Ray, but they had no solutions on defense.
ECU's defense was improved from the opener, when it allowed Tulsa to score 49 points. The turnovers, 3-0 in ECU's favor, helped the young defense, which had to replace nine starters from last year's C-USA title team.
"We took a huge step," Blacknall said, "but there's always room for improvement."
As advertised when McNeill and Riley came from Texas Tech, the offense has moved quickly and been productive, putting up 100 points in two games.
Davis led a four-play, 68-yard drive, capped by his 1-yard touchdown run to push ECU's advantage to 35-10.
Davis, a junior-college transfer via Boston College, has been a revelation in Riley's offense. He had more touchdown passes in six quarters at ECU than he did in six games at BC in 2008.
Davis has thrown for 627 and eight touchdowns in his first two games in Greenville. As a freshman at BC, before leaving the school because of academic issues, he threw for 741 yards and six touchdowns in six games.
Davis was responsible for both of ECU's second-half touchdowns, running for an 8-yard touchdown in a sluggish third quarter and throwing a 5-yard touchdown to Michael Bowman in the fourth.
Ryan Williams added some life to the Tigers' offense, leading three scoring drives and finishing with 293 yards, but he's just the first Ryan Williams ECU's defense will see this season.
Virginia Tech, undoubtedly perturbed after an 0-2 start, waits next week in Blacksburg with their Ryan Williams and then the Pirates get their two favorite opponents — UNC on Oct. 2 and N.C. State on Oct. 16.
"We like a good fight," McNeill said.
After surviving the opener, the Pirates scored a knockout on Saturday.