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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

By Brian Bailey

Pirates growing up under fire

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

Another one for the ages

Games between East Carolina and Southern Miss may be among the best kept secrets in all of college football.

We would need much longer than a column to go through the entire wild and wacky history of this series between the Pirates and the Golden Eagles.

Saturday night just added to the madness.

East Carolina was just awful out of the gate and trailed 20-0 after the first quarter. After falling apart in the second half of the team’s last two losses, it looked like this time the Purple was going to fade early.

As ESPN announcer Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend!”

This Pirate team literally grew up over the next three quarters of play. It wasn’t one comeback either. Rather, the Pirates fought back, gave up a big play, only to fight back again and pull out an amazing victory.

It all came on Ruffin McNeill’s 52nd birthday. Surely, that’ll be one birthday the coach will never forget.

“It was a great team win,” said McNeill. “I was very pleased. Playing for 60 minutes and four quarters is something we will continue to do. We talked about playing Pirate-type football, which is being physical, aggressive, making and finishing plays and having a never-say-die attitude. We had that Saturday. I was very pleased with the team.

"They gave me a birthday present, which I’ll take, but I was more happy for the kids and coaches because they worked hard.”

In a game of big plays, the biggest came in the fourth quarter after ECU quarterback Dominique Davis had thrown his third “pick six” in three games to hand Southern Miss the lead.

A lesser man would have probably thrown in the towel. That didn’t happen to Davis, who responded  three minutes later with the game-winning touchdown pass to Michael Bowman.

“I wish you could have been on the sideline,” said McNeill. “I mentioned last week that you can’t magically make it happen. You can only gain and develop what we need team-wise internally, through game experience and by going through the fight.

"You can talk about the fight and rehearse the fight, but going through a fight is the only way they can learn. He didn’t flinch. He said I’ll get it next time. I think that speaks to what Dominique has been through.”

Another of the big plays was the Jon Williams 99-yard kick-off return. The Pirates ran a reverse on the return, with Dwayne Harris pitching to Williams. Rahkeem Morgan threw a devastating block in the early stages of the play, and then Harris hustled downfield to take out a pair of Golden Eagles to ice the touchdown return.

What you might not have realized is that Morgan got up after his big hit and had another block later in the play.

ECU special teams coordinator Clay McGuire was my radio show guest on Monday night on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930 [Replay Audio>>>]. It was his idea to go with the reverse on the return.

“We watched film on them from last year,” McGuire explained. “We saw that their backside contain guy would get caught up in trash. We thought he’d chase Dwayne down in there and it set up perfectly after that.”

The Pirates improved to 3-2 with the victory and stand unbeaten in Conference USA’s East Division at 3-0.

Next up is North Carolina State, and the Wolfpack is 5-1. Both head coaches spent parts of Monday complimenting the other program.
The niceties end at noon on Saturday in Greenville.

“I understand how important this rivalry is,” said State coach Tom O’Brien. “We’ve been over there once — they’ve been over here once and we’re heading back over to Greenville. It’s a great atmosphere. They love football. They’re like our people, they love football. These are the two best football loving schools in the state and it should be a great game on Saturday.”

Color Fall Baseball Purple

East Carolina’s Purple team clinched the annual Purple-Gold World Series with a 3-2 win in the third and final game of the annual event.

Purple took the first game, and then the two squads battled to a 2-2 tie through 10 innings in the second game. Pirate Coach Billy Godwin
decided to play the third game on schedule, and only break the tie if it was needed.

Purple took care of business in game three and took the series 2-0-1.

“We are tremendously pleased,” said Godwin in wrapping up the fall season. “We had great crowds. I thought our kids played great. We had a great fall, probably the best fall that we’ve had since I’ve been at East Carolina. I thought our guys came out every day and competed and played hard. It was exciting.”

I’ll have much more on the fall baseball season, including the thoughts of Billy Godwin on the new bats in college baseball in the upcoming edition of The Pirate’s Chest Magazine.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

10/12/2010 02:46 AM


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