For the first time this season, the East Carolina defense came up with enough turnovers to send the squad home with a victory.
Unfortunately for ECU, the game came down to one single yard. Thirty-six inches of real estate stood in the way of this struggling Pirate football team tying Tulane in overtime.
The loss to the Green Wave seemed to be the hardest of the season to take for head coach Scottie Montgomery.
“You don’t get much sleep when you get it down to the one-yard line and can’t find a way to get in,” Coach Montgomery said at his weekly news conference on Monday. (Audio: Replay Coach Mo’s presser…)
On 4th and goal with a chance to send the game to a second overtime, freshman running back Darius Pinnix was stonewalled, and so was a chance at victory.
Montgomery explained the play this way.
“So we had a couple of options to that play,” he told the media. “There was a sweep that is connected to the play and they were man-to-man coverage and running across. To be truthful we just didn’t get the backside cutoff and that is something that we have worked a million times and it’s the play that we want in that situation because of all the options that it gives you.”
Coach Mo also said that he would have liked to have seen Darius’s running path go out a little wider, more off tackle than the straight dive.
Credit Tulane’s defense for making the winning play in a game that literally could have gone either way.
On the positive side, the ECU defense got some much needed turnovers that led to the comeback to tie the game and sent it to overtime.
“Korrin Wiggins, Aaron Ramseur, and ‘Tank’ Robinson, all had great games for us in different times and throughout,” said Montgomery. “The second half our defense was stingy like they were in our last home game against BYU. When you play that well and just holding them against points in the second half, you should have a chance to win.”
Next up Cincinnati comes calling. Like the Pirates the Bearcats have struggled all season long. Two weeks ago Cincinnati slipped by that same Tulane team, 17-16.
Las Vegas likes the Bearcats by a field goal, so the Pirates will be underdogs again this week.
I had a chance to meet Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell at the annual football media day for the American Athletic Conference last July. He was interesting to talk to, especially when I asked about East Carolina. At the time he told me he didn’t know all that much about the Pirates. He even added that he had never even been to Nippert Stadium at the time. He’s obviously made it there a couple of times this year and will make his first visit to Greenville this weekend.
“Cincinnati is a good football team,” added Montgomery. “Coach Fickell is really playing a lot of new people. It’s shocked me how many new people they were playing.”
With that said look for a lot of youth on the field this week.
The Pirates will celebrate their ‘Senior Day” by honoring 27 players. Ten of those are graduate transfers, three are juniors and the rest are the senior class from the ECU program.
Personally, I’ll miss Davon Grayson after this year. The way he has overcome a speech impediment and grown from his experiences truly pulls at the heart strings. He is an outstanding young man and hopefully a friend and brother for life.