Game No. 8: ECU 34, Tulane 13
Saturday, October 29, 2011
By Denny O'Brien
Davis steps up when young Bucs
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GREENVILLE — The collective
mood inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium early Saturday evening wasn’t what you
might expect following an East Carolina victory.
Throughout the Pirates’ 34-13
win over Tulane, there were as many
groans from an emotionally flat homecoming crowd as there were high fives
and chest bumps. It was clear the 49,410 who paid to see it were expecting a
little more inspiration for their purchase.
Consider that the carryover
effect of extracting some
emotionally-charged redemption from
a good opponent on the road. Given how ECU beat Navy last week — and the
ease with which the offense carved through the Midshipmen — some were
expecting the Pirates to blow past Tulane on momentum alone.
But in the general ebb and
flow that seemingly dictates college football, that’s easier said than done.
Especially for a team with as much youth and inexperience throughout the
depth chart as ECU.
If there is one conclusion
that can be drawn from a relatively easy, yet admittedly uninspiring win,
it’s that ECU’s struggles with inconsistency can be directly attributed to
its young roster. The Pirates simply haven’t developed the mentality and
focus required for 60 minutes of solid football.
At times during the first
half, the Pirates looked a lot like the bunch that stumbled to a 1-4 start.
They were able to move the ball offensively, but several drives were stalled
by self-inflicted wounds.
The ECU offensive front that
performed so brilliantly against Navy took a small step back. Protection
miscues and procedure penalties kept the Pirates from extending drives, and
the inability to maintain consistency within the running game led to field
goals instead of touchdowns.
It reached a point where
starting quarterback Dominique Davis, a senior, essentially had to take
“Of course, I did,” Davis
said. “But anyone can step up and give a spark to the offense. I was just
that guy today. I was just using my feet to get first downs here and there
just to give us a spark. We just stayed the course.”
Much of that can be attributed
to an ECU defense that shifted into lockdown mode. Despite a couple of
turnovers and shanked punts, the defense bailed the Pirates out on more
occasions than one.
Like the time it limited the
Green Wave to a field goal after a Mike Price fumble was returned to the
East Carolina five-yard line. And when Damon Magazu intercepted a pass at
the ECU 30 to nullify an early third quarter threat from Tulane.
“I think the main thing, and I
know that I keep saying this and repeating myself, but we run to the ball,”
Magazu said. “Coach (Jeff Connors) has gotten us in great position, both he
and his staff.
“By the end of the game, we
aren’t even that tired because we are in such good shape. We just run to the
Pirates defensive back Derek
Blacknall certainly did on the Green Wave’s first possession of the 2nd
quarter. He drilled Wilson Van Hooser for a six yard loss and injected some
much-needed emotion into his defensive teammates and a somewhat muted crowd.
From there, this improving
East Carolina defense didn’t let up, limiting the Wave to only 114 yards in
the 2nd half and 266 for the game. The closest Tulane got to pay dirt was
the East Carolina 35 during a second half shutout by the Pirates.
But while the defense kept
Tulane stymied most of the night, the offense struggled to maintain rhythm.
Though it piled up 461 yards and a respectable 34 points, it was unable to
deliver the final blow until late.
That again can be attributed
It’s clear that buried beneath
the numerous turnovers and penalties East Carolina has made this year, there
is a good, young team under construction. And if they find a way to beat
Southern Miss next week, you can consider the Pirates’ progression ahead of
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10/30/2011 03:36:56 AM