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Game No. 4: North Carolina 42, ECU 17


Inside Game Day
Saturday, October 2, 2010

By Al Myatt

Ruff's agenda: Making corrections

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

CHAPEL HILL — The factors that contributed to a 42-17 North Carolina win over East Carolina at Kenan Stadium on Saturday may tend to overshadow the potential of a young and growing Pirate program.

As in the game at Virginia Tech, ECU led into the second half on the road but eventually turnovers, penalties, dropped passes and a Tar Heel ground game that gained momentum during the course of the afternoon led to an outcome of blowout proportions. There was even the element of greed and perhaps some posturing for the polls that resulted in North Carolina scoring a final touchdown with 49 seconds left. That would seem to have been the time to take a knee.

Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill said he wasn't offended that Shaun Draughn scored on a 13-yard run in the final minute.

"It's our job to stop 'em," he said. "We had guys there and it's our job to stop 'em. If we get in that situation, it will be the other team's job to stop us. My hat's off and I told (North Carolina coach) Butch (Davis), 'Good job.' "

The Tar Heels would seem to want all the positive public relations they could muster with an ongoing two-pronged NCAA investigation into improper involvement with agents and academic improprieties.

"That team has faced big-time adversity," McNeill said. "Butch and his staff — with the things he's got going on — to hold the team together like he has and get 'em to play. My hat has to go off to him. I told him that after the football game."

McNeill said before the trip that ECU needed to play the entire game. His club fell short of being 60-minute men and he wanted to look at the game tape to see exactly when the Tar Heels exerted their dominance.

The Pirates drove from their 20 to the North Carolina 11 before Michael Barbour kicked a 28-yard field goal for a 17-14 lead with 9:31 left in the third quarter. It was ECU's third lead of the game. The Pirates had gone ahead 7-0 on their second series on a 13-yard pass from Dominique Davis to Lance Lewis. The Tar Heels answered as T.J. Yates connected with Jheranie Boyd on a 30-yard score.

ECU went ahead 14-7 with a bit of trickeration as former high school quarterback Dwayne Harris took a backwards pass from Davis and heaved downfield to a wide open Joe Womack for a 39-yard touchdown.

"We saw their corners were coming up on the passes in the flat," Harris said. "We called it and it was there."

That gave the Pirates a 14-7 lead on the first snap of the second quarter.

ECU (2-2) held the upper hand until Da'Norris Searcy picked off a Davis pass and returned it 46 yards for a tying TD with 2:53 left in the half. Searcy just came off a suspension this week. McNeill said Davis' legs got hit as he released the ball, causing it to soar over Harris, his intended receiver.

North Carolina (2-2) went ahead to stay with an 80-yard drive that ended with Yates hitting Dwight Jones on a slant route covering 13 yards for a 21-17 lead with 5:40 left in the third quarter.

Another interception led to increased separation for the Tar Heels. Kevin Reddick deflected and then picked off a Davis aerial at the ECU 26. Draughn went into the end zone from a yard out on the last play of the third quarter.

North Carolina had 12 rushes for 41 yards at the half. Its 13 rushes in the third quarter totaled 121 yards. The Heels ran for another 101 yards on 19 carries in the fourth quarter. Johnny White finished with a career high 140 yards on 16 rushes. Draughn had 137 yards — 98 coming in the fourth quarter — and he finished with three touchdowns.

ECU compounded its problems with penalties, totaling 120 yards on 13 walkoffs.

McNeill thought the penalty situation had been addressed in the off week following the loss at Virginia Tech.

"(Penalties) put us in a tough situation and it was hard to climb out of that," said the ECU coach. "We were minus three in the area of turnovers and two of the three turnovers were tipped balls, so some of those things can be adjusted as well."

Davis put a deep ball on the money to Lewis in the fourth quarter but the potential for a momentum-changing play went through the wideout's fingers onto the Kenan turf.

ECU defensive end Justin Dixon went out in the first half with a left knee injury and did not return.

McNeill will keep working to build his players' confidence as the focus returns to an important Conference USA game at Southern Miss next Saturday night (7:30 p.m.). The Pirate players were already thinking in terms of the challenge of preparing for the Golden Eagles as they exited the makeshift dressing area where construction is going on at the East end of the stadium.

"The next thing is to keep developing," McNeill said. "Those young guys need to believe in themselves. They want to win very badly. That part I'm not worried about. ... We will watch film and make corrections. We have a 24-hour rule, so we will watch film and prepare (Sunday) night to get ready for Southern Miss next week in Hattiesburg."

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10/03/2010 04:55:18 AM


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