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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
By Brian Bailey

Hartman took shortcut from dud to idol

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


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Bailey: Hartman shook off glitches in the clutch
Audio: Holtz USM game week press conference
Myatt: Hartman shook off glitches in the clutch
O'Brien: Holtz continues success against ACC
 • Game Center: ECU 34, UNC-CH 31
 • Box Score/Statistics
 • Audio: Holtz, Pinkney, Mitchell post-game
 • Audio: Talk 1070 pre- game & post-game
 • O'Brien: Pinkney hurls himself into history
 • Monroe: Kevin's Keys to the Game
 • ECU Media Relations Game Recap
 • C-USA Standings, Scores, Schedule
 • ECU Schedule, Scores, Attendance

Never has a Pirate football player gone from goat to hero in such a short time.

Ben Hartman had missed three critical field goals against archrival North Carolina on Saturday night. Still, he was able to find just enough room to squeeze in the game winner and take over the role of hero on campus.

It takes Clark Kent longer to don his red cape in the phone booth than it did for Hartman to shed the goat horns and be carried off the field.

Hartman said afterwards that he knew he was going to make that kick. I’m not quite sure how many of the 43,000 in attendance had those same thoughts!

I know they were hopeful. Hartman did get it through and the celebration was on. For only the second time in the program's history, East Carolina had a win over UNC-Chapel Hill.

“I’ve made that kick in practice a million times,” said Harman after the game and just after jumping down from his teammates' shoulders. “I knew I was going to make the kick.”

Holtz was obviously a tad frustrated with his kicker during the game. He got on him about a couple of his kickoffs, and he walked a fine line in discussing the missed field goals.

“For Ben it is all mental,” said Holtz at his weekly news conference on Monday. “He’s like many of us golfers. You hook one left, and then you over compensate and push one right. He even hit the upright once, so his mind was playing with him.”

“I really thought the extra time-out helped us,” added Holtz. “It gave us a chance to try and settle him down a little bit. I just told him to go out there and kick it like it was his first kick of the game. Don’t start thinking about pushing or pulling, just go kick that thing through the middle of the uprights. He did a great job.”

An entire city and much of Eastern North Carolina had a mood swing like none other in that fourth quarter.

Sure, there are plenty of Tar Heel fans and alums in Greenville. However, this is Pirate country, and many walked a little taller at church on Sunday and at work on Monday.

Now the trick is to try and duplicate that atmosphere for Southern Miss this week. The Golden Eagles have dominated the series with ECU, especially in Greenville.

A repeat performance may start with the students. They were incredible on Saturday. Many were in the stadium a good 90 minutes before kickoff. Someone on the sideline joked that they must have snuck a keg in.

I thought it was a great showing of support for that many students to be in their seats that early. They deserve all of the credit in the world for being there for their team.

Now, that same group must get the word out. As far as bowl games go, as far as conference championships go, as far as league pride goes, this is a huge game for East Carolina. The jerseys won’t be light blue, but the rivalry, for some, will be just as intense.

“They are 14-2 here in Greenville against ECU,” said Holtz. “I know a lot of Pirate fans have a bad taste in their mouth about this game. Add in the fact that we won at the Rock (Hattiesburg) last year, and I know this Southern Miss team will come to play.”

The Pirates are now 1-1 on the season, but have really shown up and played outstanding games both times. There are things to work on, like in the secondary and with the penalties. Overall, though, this team has worked hard and has been well prepared for this tough start to the schedule.

This game will go a long way in determining the Conference USA East Division champion. Coach Holtz calls Southern Miss the “Yankees” of their conference. The road to the C-USA title usually includes Southern Miss in some form or fashion.

This past Saturday was what big-time college football is all about. That’s what Holtz is preaching and thus far this team believes.

The Pirates hope to take another stop towards getting everybody else to believe this week with a win over Southern Miss.


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04/21/2008 07:08:40 PM


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