Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.637.2944 for flexible options & rates.




Game No. 3: East Carolina 28, UAB 23


Inside Game Day
Saturday, September 24, 2011

By Al Myatt

Clumsy win sets stage for Heels' visit

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

GREENVILLE — The dress rehearsal is over. East Carolina repeatedly shot itself in the foot but managed to get off enough rounds to kill two birds on Saturday.

The Pirates executed a winning start in Conference USA with a 28-23 victory over Alabama-Birmingham at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and achieved some needed momentum for a visit from rival North Carolina next Saturday night.

Talk about a matchup that revs the fan base and it's the opportunity to line up against the Tar Heels.

At least the Pirates won't have to resurrect themselves from an 0-3 hole. Coach Ruffin McNeill was grateful for that.

"It was great to get a win," he said. "I've been in it a long time and wins are hard."

The Blazers were several steps down competitively from nationally-ranked South Carolina and Virginia Tech, who had combined to get ECU off to an 0-2 start despite Pirate leads at halftime of both games., But the Blazers have already been to Florida this season and didn't appear intimidated by the environment in Greenville.

UAB fell to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in C-USA but had a last chance to steal a road win after ECU's seventh turnover, an interception by Marqui Coleman at the UAB 9-yard line with 7:02 left to play.

Backup quarterback Jonathan Perry directed a drive that came down to a fourth-and-8 play at the ECU 18 after a timeout with 2:29 remaining.

McNeill said it was a wheel route, a ploy the Blazers had used earlier in the game from another formation.

Perry's pass came down to running back Pat Shed, who appeared to graze the goal line pylon on the south side of Bagwell Field as linebacker Daniel Drake applied the hit.

"There was no doubt that (Drake) knocked him out of bounds," said safety Damon Magazu, who had rotated into coverage and emphatically indicated an incompletion before the side judge confirmed it.

"I think he dropped the ball," McNeill said of the decisive play.

Tape of the play from TV-12's Brian North showed the ball dislodged as Shed went to the turf.

ECU took over and ran out the clock, putting nothing between them and preparations for North Carolina but the ECU program's 24-hour rule, which follows every game, win or lose.

Ruff said he was going home to enjoy some time with "Pops," Ruff, Sr.

There was no replay on the last UAB pass to Shed and no protest from the Blazers.

The factor that served to even out the C-USA contest was turnovers. The Pirates had committed just one in the last game two weeks earlier against the Hokies.

Maybe that's why McNell didn't want the bye week when it took place after ECU did so many things well against the defending ACC champions.

The Pirates had no penalties against VPI but had four for 60 yards against UAB.

The biggest momentum swing came as a Pirate touchdown was ruled a lost fumble by the replay crew. Instead of a relatively-comfortable 35-17 fourth quarter lead, the Blazers took over at their own 20 on a touchback. Perry, who came on for Bryan Ellis after Ellis was immobilized and removed on a stretcher in the third quarter, drove the Blazers for a score that got them within 28-23. The Blazers went for a two-point conversion but Perry's scrambling lob was incomplete.

"We had a shot there (on the final drive) and then made some mistakes," said UAB coach Neil Callaway, a former ECU part-time assistant in the Pat Dye era.

Neither Callaway nor McNeill had a postgame update on Ellis's condition but McNeill expressed confidence in ECU medical personnel and said a lot of the procedures appeared to be precautionary.

The second half had been a trap door for the Pirates in the first two games but the defense, the weak link in 2010, ultimately was able to preserve a valuable victory.

Overshadowed by the dramatics of the closing stand were 542 yards of total offense by the Pirates. Dominique Davis completed 35 of 42 for 361 yards with three touchdowns and three picks. Reggie Bullock ran for 169 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown, showing the package of moves and determination that made him junior college offensive player of the year at Arizona Western.

"The turnovers are something we can fix," Davis said.

McNeill said the only team that has beaten ECU are the Pirates themselves. He was thankful it didn't happen again against UAB.

Magazu was trying to avoid providing any bulletin board material for the Heels.

"The fans will be amped and that amps us, too," he said. "But we have to be careful not to be so emotional that we don't play our assignments."

The crowd of 50,023 saw a gamut of weather ranging from clouds at kickoff, to rain and then sunshine after ECU regained the lead in the third quarter.

The outcome wasn't a masterpiece to hang on the wall of the Murphy Center but what it was in its most basic form was a win — and that was what the program needed most.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

Dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville archives.

09/25/2011 05:31:17 AM


©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.