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


Gutsy Pirates apply Frog-shocker

By Denny O'Brien

GREENVILLE — East Carolina built its reputation on being a giant killer. Saturday against No. 22 Texas Christian, the Pirates wove another piece of fabric into the quilt.

For much of this crisp, cool late-Autumn day, it appeared that the favored Horned Frogs would hop out of Greenville with an improved national ranking and at least a share of the Conference USA crown.

But that scenario took a detour midway through the fourth quarter when Pirates safety Travis Heath ripped the ball from the clutches of running back Ricky Madison as the Frogs were closing in on the game-clinching score.

"I was just working on not losing containment and just making the tackle," Heath said. "I saw him with the ball out, and the first thing on my mind was 'get the ball out and let the offense go back down the field and score.'

"Fortunately, I was able to take the ball from him. The first thing I thought about after that was touchdown."

That's just what he did.

Somehow, some way, Heath managed to steal the ball from Madison, maintain his balance, stay in bounds and lead a parade of Pirates down the sidelines for the go-ahead score.

Quarterback Paul Troth applied the finishing touches by hitting a wide-open Art Brown on the two-point conversion, giving East Carolina (4-6, 4-2 Conference USA) a 31-28, come-from-behind victory over TCU (8-2, 5-2).

"That was a heartbeat victory right there," Pirates coach Steve Logan said. "That came from way, way, way down deep.

"I talked to the kids before the game and I told them we had beaten a ranked opponent three times in school history...  I gave them a script how those games all go the same way."

The script? Hang on and keep fighting, which is exactly what the Pirates did.

When Nick Brown's 40-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left, the Pirates slid into the glass slipper, sending the vocal Pirates faithful home with a fairy tale ending.

"(The crowd) mattered big-time," Logan said. "What our fans did out there today mattered big-time. I'm very, very thankful that they showed up and gave all they had to give."

Logan also got an opportunistic performance from his defense, which forced seven turnovers.

Quarterback Sean Stilley had the lead in TCU's comedy of errors, tossing four interceptions and fumbling once en route to a 16-of-35, 177-yard day. His fumble with 12:34 to play set up Kevin Miller's third field goal, a 44-yarder that inched the Pirates closer at 28-23.

"They played as hard as they could possibly play," Logan said of ECU's defensive unit. "They created turnovers and they had to because we were turning the ball over.

"Paul (Troth) got hit a couple of times on some throws. We could not handle their defense. They whipped us, that's all there is to it. We made just enough plays to keep us in the game."

Despite a truckload of miscues, TCU outgained the Pirates 445-236. Lonta Hobbs led the charge, running for 158 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns.

The freshman running back was also on the receiving end of a three-yard scoring toss from Stilley, which upped the Frogs' lead to 28-17.

East Carolina added to the festival of turnovers, committing five of its own. Troth, who struggled to a 10-of-31, 158-yard finish, tossed four interceptions and fumbled once against the nation's second-ranked defense.

"When you've got five turnovers all caused by your quarterback, you wonder if you're going to win the game," Troth said. "Coach Logan always says whoever wins the turnover battle wins.

"They had seven and we had five. It was a crazy game — just crazy."

Though it didn't operate with normal precision, the Pirates' offense did have its moments. The brightest occurred early in the second half when Troth found receiver Richard Alston on a 69-yard scoring strike that cut the Frogs' lead to 21-17.

Alston provided most of the offensive fireworks, finishing with four catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

"I felt good out there today," Alston said. "I kind of saw some things on film. I was able to go out there and make plays."

The Pirates mustered little in the running game, managing just 75 yards against a swarming Frogs defense. Brown lead the way with 60 yards on 18 carries, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

After three-and-outs on their opening drives, both teams traded touchdowns.

TCU struck first when Hobbs took an option pitch and raced 52 yards for the opening score. The Pirates struck on the ensuing possession, capping off an eight-play, 72-yard drive on Troth's 19-yard scoring strike to Alston.

The Frogs reclaimed the lead early in the second quarter on Hobbs' second touchdown of the day, this one an eight-yard bolt up the middle. Miller's 44-yard field goal with ten seconds left before intermission inched the Pirates closer at 14-10.

With the win, East Carolina stayed alive in its hunt for a share of the league title and maintained hopes for a fourth-consecutive postseason appearance. The Pirates can attain bowl eligibility and claim at least a share of the conference crown by winning at Southern Miss next Saturday and at home against Cincinnati on Friday, December 6.

"We're focused," Alston said. "We know that we're still in this thing. We're not going to quit because it's not our mentality. We're just going to continue to execute — try to get wins."


Send an e-mail message to Denny O'Brien.

Click here to dig into Denny O'Brien's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:50:59 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.