When East Carolina went up 14-0 early in the Knights' Conference USA opener Thursday night, the energy in the stadium was in danger of disappearing.
Bright House Networks Stadium received a jolt of electricity, however. On the ensuing kickoff, senior receiver Quincy McDuffie took it at the 1-yard line, made a couple Pirates miss and was off to the races. His 99-yard return for a touchdown sparked the offense and defense.
"It definitely got the morale of the team up, having a quick score like that and putting an actual touchdown on the board," sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles said. "It definitely did help out."
"It gives you momentum, especially in rivalry games," senior defensive lineman Troy Davis said. "It swings momentum and it gets the sideline going."
The kickoff return wasn't the only big play McDuffie, an Orlando native, made. In the third quarter he caught a pass from Bortles for a 64-yard touchdown. It was a short screen pass that McDuffie took down the sideline.
"He's unbelievable," Bortles said. "He's one of the fastest kids I've ever seen and that was a great block out there on the perimeter and it was a great play call too. They brought the house on a blitz and played man coverage and Quincy got in the hole and took off. Once he gets into the open field there aren't too many people who can catch him."
McDuffie finished the game with 195 total yards and he only touched the ball four times, including that long touchdown catch-and-run in the second half.
"I saw nothing but daylight," McDuffie said. "I put my foot in the ground and just tried to get to the endzone. I knew how bad we needed it and I was very determined to get into the endzone."