Four wins in a season doesn’t sound like that much. Five wins isn’t exactly a dream season either.
After three straight 3-9 campaigns at East Carolina, that fourth win was a welcome sight for this program under first-year coach Mike Houston.
ECU got win number four with a 31-24 win over Connecticut in East Hartford on Saturday afternoon. It certainly wasn’t a thing of beauty, but it was a win and gives Houston and company something to build on for next week and for the football future.
“I’m really proud of these kids,” said an emotional Houston after the win. “It wasn’t pretty and we made a ton of mistakes, but our kids hung tough and did what it takes to win.”
Houston’s voice cracked as he spoke. It was another indication of just how big this win was for the Pirates.
East Carolina can finish the season just one game under .500 if the Pirates can take care of business in the season finale against Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane will come to Greenville as a six-point favorite in that final game of the regular season.
While the Pirates are 4-7 on the season, Tulsa will come into Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium with a mark of just 3-8. Like ECU, the Golden Hurricane is just 1-6 in the American Athletic Conference.
Tulsa, though, has had a very difficult schedule and blew leads in a couple of key games. Tulsa lost to Southern Methodist in three overtimes in a game they once led by three touchdowns. The Golden Hurricane also fell to Memphis by a single point this season.
Houston has found success at every stop he has made along the football coaching trail. It takes time, but the results from early in the season until now can’t be ignored.
ECU Director of Media Relations Tom McClellan had some great numbers to share after the win over UConn:
• The Pirates have averaged 41.7 points per game in their last three games. The offense has averaged just under 600 yards per game in that span.
• East Carolina has converted 16-straight red zone visits into points.
• The Pirate defense has five interceptions over the last three games.
• Redshirt freshman Tyler Snead has caught 35 passes for 366 yards in his last two games.
These are most encouraging numbers as the Pirates brace for the season finale and then get set for the off-season.
The videos on social media also spoke volumes of just how big this win was for the program. One of my all-time favorite Pirate assistant coaches, Donnie Kirkpatrick, showed off dance moves that perhaps should never be seen again. He was very excited and I think some of that excitement has to do with Kirkpatrick’s vision for the future of this offense.
This will be another odd week for Pirate football. The team will have Monday off and then get most of their physical work in on Tuesday and Wednesday. The staff will spend Thursday polishing up the game plan and finalize that on Friday.
Thursday is a holiday, and the Pirate family will be together for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner as a team.
Pirate fans are certainly thankful that the future is so bright for this Pirate program.
A win in the finale would give the Pirates a two-game turnaround from last year.
A 5-7 record has never looked so good.