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. 5: ECU 44, Southern Miss 43


Game Slants
Saturday, October 9, 2010

By Denny O'Brien

Melee in Mississippi charges up series

By Denny O'Brien
All Rights Reserved.

HATTIESBURG, MS — It hardly seemed practical to classify the series between East Carolina and Southern Miss as a rivalry — until now.

The geographic and competitive distance separating the two always suggested it wasn't one.

About the only rationale behind the label getting tossed around this annual match-up could be attributed to the frequency with which the two have played. It's been an annual match-up since 1983, with the Golden Eagles holding the equivalent of a full nelson on the series.

But on a night that at times was part track meet, part battle royal, the annual bout between the Pirates and Golden Eagles took a significant turn. At the end of a long, strange, but wildly entertaining game, it was East Carolina that withstood all of the punches, many of which were thrown after the whistle blew.

By any measure of a rivalry match-up, the Pirates' 44-43 victory fit the textbook definition. There were crushing hits, big plays, trash talk, flying fists, and ejections. It was everything you would want between the fiercest of football rivals.

And when you totaled the penalty yardage between the adversaries — many of which were late hits and unnecessary roughness — you could have covered two football fields with yardage to spare.

“I wasn't surprised,” senior defensive tackle Josh Smith said about the amount of extracurricular activity. “Because we watched it on film. They insulted us. They scheduled us for Homecoming. Who does that?

"Who schedules the two-time conference champ on Homecoming? We took that as motivation, and we knew they were going to be dirty.”

It would be remiss not to mention that the early stages of the game closely resembled the two forgettable years when John Thompson was the coach. The entire first quarter was an avalanche of blunders that fueled a 20-0 Golden Eagles spurt.

The ECU defense that was shoved around during the second half of a loss at North Carolina last week was bullied around some more. Meanwhile the offense that hibernated against the Heels napped through two turnovers and two three-and-outs in the opening quarter.

That ECU was capable of picking itself off the mat is a testament to the character and resilience of this inexperienced team. After collapsing late last week and seemingly void of a pulse during the opening quarter, it would have made perfect sense for the Pirates to fold.

But they countered USM's early game intensity by exhibiting tremendous poise. Instead of engaging in the Golden Eagles' interest in pushing and shoving, the Pirates demonstrated the maturity to allow their foe to self-destruct.

“We faced adversity,” Pirates Coach Ruffin McNeill said. “We hung in there. We kept fighting.

“We talked about execution. We talked about routine plays. We talked about playing 60 minutes and for four quarters. And we did it. We beat a very, very good football team on the road. This is a tough place to play.”

At times the Pirates certainly made it tougher than needed. Much tougher. Thrice Pirates quarterback Dominique Davis, who finished with 305 yards and four scores, threw errant balls that landed in the arms of an opposing player.

The final one was snatched by Southern Miss linebacker Jamie Collins, who rambled 32 painful yards and what could have been the clinching score.

But Davis, much like he did against Tulsa, possessed the fortitude to direct another game-winning drive. He calmly marched the Pirates 72 yards in eight plays, the last of which was a 32-yard scoring toss to nifty receiver Michael Bowman.

The result is an unblemished 3-0 conference mark in a year of transition that many were suggesting as a total rebuild. That's a worthy footnote when you consider the level of experience on the Southern Miss roster and the fact that many considered it a favorite to contend for the title.

After winning consecutive titles and a perfect Conference USA start this fall, East Carolina has again emerged as a favorite. And after two straight emotional wins over good Southern Miss clubs, the Pirates are now a worthy rival.

Send a message to Denny O'Brien.

Dig into Denny O'Brien's Bonesville archives.

10/10/2010 05:39:33 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.