GREENVILLE — East Carolina's 63-14
Senior Day win over Alabama-Birmingham moved the Pirates one day closer
to a Nov. 29 showdown with Marshall for a chance to win Conference USA's
Although the matchup with the
Thundering Herd is dangling out there the day after Thanksgiving, the
Pirates first have a trip to N.C. State on Saturday that involves
regional bragging rights.
Instead of focusing on the future
like kids waiting for Santa Claus, the Pirates took care of the business
at hand against the Blazers.
A group of 20 seniors were honored
before the game and the upperclassmen served as game captains.
Seniors scored seven of ECU's nine
touchdowns as the Pirates achieved their highest point total of the
season. Senior Reese Wiggins had five catches for 142 yards with three
touchdowns and senior Vintavious Cooper ran 15 times for 126 yards with
"I was proud of the leadership," said
former Pirates player and fourth-year ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill.
"I've talked about the core all year long. I've asked them to focus on
one day at a time. Our seniors did that."
Senior linebacker Kyle Tudor provided
a special moment as he returned a pass interception 50 yards for a
touchdown in the third quarter that pushed the Pirates' lead to 49-7.
Fellow senior Adonis Armstrong
overtook Tudor to make a block near the goal line for his classmate.
"I was proud of Tudor," McNeill said.
"Tudor has been one of those guys who has been banged up. He's one of
those guys, like Reese, who has been here from the beginning with me.
He's a leader when I talk about core. It was good to see him get a
"He was going to score. I could have
told Birmingham that when he caught it. I said, 'They're not going to
tackle this guy' and they didn't.
" ... I was very proud of that
touchdown. That's two weeks in a row. We need to keep that going."
A 100-yard interception return for a
score by DaShaun Amos concluded a 58-24 win over Tulsa last week.
Tudor had wanted to run the ball
since playing quarterback early in his youth.
"I asked Coach (Lincoln) Riley
(offensive coordinator) if I could get some fullback reps a year or two
ago," Tudor said. "He always said, 'Yeah,' but I didn't get into that. I
played quarterback and running back in grammar school. I guess I was OK
then, but the speed of the game caught up to me. I started playing
defense, which is a blessing in disguise."
Senior Chip Thompson tipped the pass
from UAB's Jonathan Perry before Tudor made the grab.
"Really, I was just in the right
place at the right time," Tudor said. "I just happened to be there. It
was kind of like a gift. ... It started to open up so I was kind of
excited. It was happening so fast I couldn't process it that quick. I
was just running to the end zone, hoping I could get in there. I kind of
slowed up when I saw Adonis and let him set up that block."
Tudor said it was a team touchdown.
"I guess my team was as happy as I
was," Tudor said. "I kind of got bombarded when I got to the sideline."
Tudor had contemplated doing more
after he got past the goal line.
"I was going to have a sweet
celebration but it didn't end up that way," Tudor said. "I was too tired
to do anything."
Senior Derrell Johnson also had a
"I wish I could have taken mine back
but I was happy for Kyle," Johnson said.
Senior safety Damon Magazu had eight
tackles and Johnson totaled seven stops.
Senior Day went well for the Pirates.
"I couldn't ask for anything more,"
Tudor said. "The good thing was, it wasn't just me that had a good game.
A lot of our seniors and just our team in general had a great game.
"I just want to win. I could care
less about my accolades or anything like that. It's always good to get a
touchdown. I honestly can't take any of that for myself either. More
than one person made that happen. The tip. The blocks. I got lucky I
guess. I just want to thank everybody on my team and let's hope we get
the next one."
The Pirates could be back in
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Dec. 7 for the C-USA championship game.
"We always look at it one game at a
time," Tudor said. "We try not to look forward to any other games. Our
coaches always preach one game at a time, one play at a time. ... "We're
going to do everything we can to have a great game next week."
Tudor said Saturday didn't feel like
his last home game.
"It's kind of weird," he said. "I
know it was Senior Day and our last game here supposedly. For some
reason, it just didn't feel that way and I just hope that we can find
the inner strength within and win the rest of the season out. Hopefully,
if that happens, we should host. That would be a good thing."