East Carolina couldn’t have picked a better weekend to remember its past while getting a glimpse of its future.
The Pirates ran the program’s ACC win streak to six in a row with a 33-30 win over arch-rival North Carolina State. It was the third straight win in the series for East Carolina.
More than another victory against a Power 5 opponent, Saturday’s game saw the Pirate Nation rally as one. Coming off a snub by the Big 12, where ECU didn’t even make it to the second round of talks, the Pirates took care of business where they needed to.
Even new Chancellor Cecil Staton got into the act. Shortly after the win over the Wolfpack was complete, Dr. Staton tweeted out, “Take that Big 12!”
Pirate head coach Scottie Montgomery had said that he knew the crowd might be the difference.
“It is a grand day,” said Montgomery after the game. “I don’t think anybody but Pirate Nation knew what this was going to be like. It was hot out here. Our fans didn’t go anywhere. They were rowdy; they got here early this morning. We couldn’t even get down Charles Street. It was a great day.”
Everything just came together on a hot and humid September Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. I had serious doubts about striping the stadium, but even that worked to perfection.
Back to the Future
For me the biggest thrill was getting back together with many of the players from the 1991 Pirate football season.
East Carolina honored the squad at halftime, and even presented them with the 1992 Peach Bowl trophy again.
1991 National Coach of the Year Bill Lewis returned to Greenville for the first time since that magical season. He was a little older and little frailer, but he still had a great message.
“That team was the most fun and provided me with the biggest thrills in 44 years of coaching,” said Lewis. “We had a common cause and fought together for that cause. It was a time that I certainly will never forget.”
It was an obvious thrill for me personally to have Jeff Blake and Luke Fisher re-enact the winning touchdown from the Peach Bowl on the field for the video screen during the game.
I think Jeff and Luke enjoyed it as well.
Memories came flooding down with the Peach Bowl team back in town.
We had the chance to spend the entire week in Atlanta following the team. I was at just about every practice that week, and followed the guys at night when they had some free time.
I was a young sportscaster, not even 30 years old during that season. Basically, the players and I were almost the same age. I was certainly still learning the ropes, and I became friends with many of the Pirate players. Many of those friendships have continued through the years.
Jeff Blake’s daughter, Torre, interned for me at WNCT-TV when she wasn’t on the volleyball court last year. Zay Jones, son of All-American linebacker Robert Jones from the ’91 team, is another recent player that I really enjoy working with.
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I especially enjoyed hooking back up with Luke Fisher. The Pirate tight end was mature beyond his years as a player. He hadn’t changed a bit from the conversations I had with him this weekend.
He even took time out to sign one of his iconic prints for a young lady who’s very dear to my heart.
Kim Reaves, wife of my best friend and ECU coach’s show photographer and producer Brian Meador, is battling breast cancer. Meador is my best friend, so I was there when Luke signed the print.
Luke thanked Kim for being such an inspiration in her fight. I know the print and the signature will mean the world to Kim and Brian as the fight against cancer continues.
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Luke and that ’91 ECU football team were an inspiration for us all. It was the greatest season in Pirate football history, ending with the Pirates ranked 9th in the nation.
I don’t believe any of us should live in the past, but it’s nice to take a look back, remember the past, and strive to be even better.
I know that’s the goal at East Carolina
It’s on to Columbia now to try and snap a three-game losing streak to the Gamecocks, and a 7-game losing streak against the SEC. The Pirates haven’t beaten an SEC team since a 21-3 win over South Carolina in 1999. That includes an 0-3 run in bowl games with losses to Kentucky, Arkansas, and Florida.
Terry trickler says
Thanks for the memories. It was a great season and Peach Bowl. It was the best game that I have ever attended.I have enjoyed the whole weekend and enjoy your Brian Bailey show.The pirate radio app keeps me informed while living in Henderson
Dick Paddock (ECU football 69 - 72) says
Brian, the ECU Pirates have won 7 in a row against the ACC in football. They’ve won 3 in a row against NC State, 2 in a row against Virginia Tech, and 2 in a row against North Carolina. Why does everyone keep saying they’ve won 6 in a row???
Michael Barrett says
Because one of those three straight victories over State came in 2010. ECU has lost to other ACC teams since then, such as Virginia Tech in 2013.
@Dick Paddock… They keep saying that because they are right. The streak against NC State dates back to 2010. Three in a row vs them but only 2 of those wins have been since the ECU lost to UNC (2012). Therefore the streak against the ACC is 6. Follow the math now? They’ve won 6 straight games against the ACC since the loss to UNC in 2012. Hope that helps.
Ah yes… Va. Tech in 2013. Forgot about that one. Same math applies though.