Sophomore D’Eriq King began his turn as the signal caller in Major Applewhite's offense in dominant fashion.
In his first career start at quarterback, King threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score to lead the Cougars over East Carolina 52-27 at TDECU Stadium Saturday afternoon.
In making the move to King, Applewhite was hoping to see the explosive offense he knew the team was capable of all season.
Two of the sophomore's touchdown passes came on explosive plays — one a 75-yard pass to Steven Dunbar and the other on a 62-yard pass to Linell Bonner.
Dunbar had a career-high 171 yards on six catches while Bonner finished with 147 yards on seven catches on Saturday.
“I’m seeing some discipline and accountability throughout the game and I’m just really proud of King and the way he performed with everything he’s gone through,” Applewhite said. “He allows you to do a lot of the same things you could do with Greg [Ward].”
The biggest test for Houston in the game was coming out of halftime up 27-10 with East Carolina receiving the ball to open the third quarter. The Pirates drove 75 yards on a near six-minute drive and ended in a touchdown to pull closer 28-17.
Houston responded with the 75-yard touchdown pass to Dunbar and then forced a Pirate fumble on the ensuing drive which then resulted in another Houston touchdown on the long pass to Bonner.
“Football is a lot like playing a game of HORSE, when they make a shot then you have to respond again and that’s exactly what we did,” Applewhite said.
The Cougars allowed only one more touchdown for the Pirates after their opening score in the second half although Pirates quarterback Gardner Minshew set a conference single-game record for completions with 52.
The road ahead for Houston has them facing off against two teams whose offense relies on the triple-option as they face Tulane on Nov. 18 and Navy on Nov. 24.
The Cougars are currently second in their division behind the 8-1 Memphis Tigers and most projections have Houston playing in the Frisco Bowl in the Dallas area.