The schedule will soon compact for East Carolina's 2014 football team
with three games in 13 days.
The Pirates will host
Tulane on Saturday, Nov. 22 to start the close to the regular season.
They'll play at Tulsa the following Friday before returning home to face
Central Florida on Thursday, Dec. 4.
There will be a little time
before the focus shifts to preparations for the Green Wave and the span
will have some value. After the game-ending sequence Thursday night, ECU
could use an interim to regain its composure and focus its
competitiveness on the next challenge.
What had the look of a
dramatic and vital American Athletic Conference football win for the
Pirates against Cincinnati on Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium
transformed into an agonizing loss over the final 62 seconds.
won a showdown for a share of the AAC lead
by a 54-46 margin after a Shane Carden keeper with 1:02 remaining had
put the Pirates ahead, 46-45.
A pass interference call on
Howard Wilder as he defended Justin Hardy in the end zone set up
Carden's scoring run.
A fumble recovery by Lamar
Ivey at the Bearcats' 27-yard line led to ECU's go-ahead possession.
went for a fourth-and-3 at its own 33 with just over two minutes to go.
Bearcats quarterback Gunner
Kiel ran an option to the left after a pair of timeouts. Kiel had
initially tried to get the Pirates to encroach.
Then came some fourth down
"We were kind of in a man
coverage and I saw the quarterback rolling off," said Ivey, who had
already picked off a pair of Kiel passes. "I got off the block to make
the tackle on the quarterback or running back. When he pitched it, I
just saw it hit the ground so I just went ahead and jumped on it."
Chris Hairston ran for five
yards to the Cincinnati 22 on first down with ECU trailing 45-40.
Cam Worthy was a pass
interference victim to move the ball to the Bearcats 7.
After three incompletions,
Wilder drew a late flag and the Pirates got a first down at the
Cincinnati 2-yard line.
Carden scored from two
yards out on second down to give ECU its second lead. The Pirates were
down 17-6 early in the second quarter and rallied to go in front 20-17.
The Bearcats forged a 38-20 advantage in the second half before ECU came
"It was a zone read on the
end to an option," Carden said. "The end crashed and the linebacker flew
out. He was playing the pitch man pretty well. I was able to get
Carden completed 35 of 61
passes for 418 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Justin Hardy had 15
receptions for 181 yards to pull within four catches of breaking the
Football Bowl Subdivision career record of 349 receptions by Ryan
Broyles of Oklahoma (2008-11).
Breon Allen had 12 carries
for 129 yards and a TD. Marquez Grayson and Hardy also had rushing
ECU left a little too much
time for Kiel after a Carden pass for a two-point conversion and a
three-point advantage fell incomplete.
Kiel completed three passes
for 35 yards to set up a career-longest 47-yard field goal by Andrew
Gantz to put the hosts ahead 48-46 with 15 seconds left.
A desperation trick play by
the Pirates with nine seconds to go resulted in a fumble that was
returned 20 yards for a touchdown by Terrell Hartsfield as the game
"It was a tough game,"
Carden said. "Both teams knew how much was on the line. You put your
heart in something like this and it's hard when you come out on the
The Pirates slipped to 6-3
overall and 3-2 in league play. Cincinnati (6-3) and Memphis are each
4-1 in the conference. Central Florida is 3-1 in the AAC with a home
game tonight against Tulsa.
The temperature was 27
degrees at kickoff with southwest winds at seven miles per hour.
The Pirates were equipped
for the conditions and wore new white helmets. There were four heated
benches on the sideline.
ECU played better under
adverse conditions than in the rain, wind and chill that accompanied
a 20-10 loss at Temple on
Penalties decreased from
the game against the Owls. Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill had officials
work practice three times since the loss in Philadelphia when ECU was
flagged 12 times for 120 yards. ECU drew five penalties for 38 yards
against the Bearcats.
The Pirates lost five
fumbles at Temple. That number diminished to two as the Pirates played
in an NFL venue for the second straight week.
"Some tough things
happened," McNeill said. "The kids rose up and played the next play."
In successive games, the
Pirates have seen their major bowl hopes deflated, they've fallen out of
the rankings and they've lost control of their fate in terms of winning
an AAC title.
All of that is tough for
young men who have worked hard to be in those positions.
Now it's time to evaluate
another loss and make improvements. The good thing about the schedule at
this point is that there will be some added time to do that.
"It's going to sting for a
little while," Carden said. "But we've got three (regular season) games
left and we've got to finish off the season strong."