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Game No. 9: Navy 76, East Carolina 35


Inside Game Day
Saturday, November 6, 2010

By Al Myatt

Blackbeard had it worse

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

GREENVILLE — A rainbow appeared behind the North side of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium before halftime of East Carolina's football game with Navy on Saturday. If anyone found a mythical pot of gold in the second half, it was the Midshipmen.

The Pirates were in the non-conference contest at the break, trailing 28-21. That was before four turnovers were converted into 24 second half points by the visitors, who certainly should have been very thankful on Military Appreciation Day.

"We screwed our defense over," said ECU quarterback Dominique Davis, who completed 43 of 65 passes for 413 yards.

Davis' Texas Tech-like numbers looked good until compared to Navy's 521 yards rushing.

"We put our defense in positions that would be tough on the New England Patriots," said Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill.

The ECU defense looked like it was trying to figure out the codes of a new video game against the Midshipmen's triple option attack. The Pirate offense was doing its best to keep pace before it began shooting itself in the foot with turnovers.

Navy used the good fortune to fuel a 76-35 win, the most points scored by a team in the 240-game history of the stadium.

It got ugly. Then it started raining.

Most of the crowd of 50,191, the second largest in stadium history, had said "No mas," and headed for the exits as the score mounted in Navy's favor.

When it rains, it pours, as they say.

With no doubt as to the final outcome there were a lot of little things to contemplate.

For instance:

Isn't a military academy a good place to develop a football mindset?

"They train you mentally to succeed," said Pirate defensive tackle Josh Smith, who spent a season at Naval Academy Prep in Newport, Rhose Island. "They make you mentally tough."

It might make you feel a little better about national security knowing that these Navy guys will be making that their career.

And how did officials not assess a facemask penalty after a Navy defender contorted Michael Booker's head and neck after a reception late in the first half? A flag was thrown but it was dismissed. It would have put the Pirates in makeable field goal range. I hesitate to point out that it was an ACC crew calling the game.

And how tough is ECU's Mr. Everything, Dwayne Harris?

He came back after a lower back contusion on a punt return in the first half that left him barely able to walk off the field with assistance.

It was the first loss in front of the new section of stands, the Boneyard, at the East end of the stadium. The last time the Pirates went unbeaten at home was in 1995. There have been four seasons with one home loss since then.

Who would have thought that an 85-58 men's basketball exhibition win over Montreat on Friday night would be ECU's best showing of the weekend?

How bad was it?

Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, set the record for a bad day by a Pirate when he was beheaded by men under the command of Lt. Robert Maynard of Her Majesty's Royal Navy on November, 22, 1718.

It wasn't that bad.

Still, chalk up another one for another Navy on another November day. It was the competitive equivalent of a beheading.

Teach's head was placed on a stake at the mouth of an inlet east of here to discourage other Pirates. The modern Pirates will live to fight again and that opportunity comes quickly with a trip to play UAB at Birmingham's cavernous Legion Field on Thursday night. That game has implications in the Conference USA race and in terms of ECU's bowl eligibility.

ECU is 5-4 overall and 4-1 in Conference USA.

McNeill said there will be no 24-hour rule between games as has become customary.

"I ordered the players and coaches to immediately start thinking about UAB," McNeill said. " ... I expect them to get up, stand up and fight like wild men. It starts with me."

Those words should resonate within the program and throughout the Pirate Nation. Despite a figurative beheading, Navy didn't kill the Pirate spirit.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

Dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville archives.

11/07/2010 07:33:02 PM


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