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

A bonding win for East Carolina

By Denny O'Brien

The post-game slants
and audio bytes, as
penned and digitally
recorded by staff
writer Denny O'Brien.

Game No. 7 Vitals: ECU at Army

• A bonding win for East Carolina
• ECU wins struggle between the winless
• Box Score & Statistics
• Post-Game Audio: J.T. & ECU players

WEST POINT — OK, so it wasn't Miami. And it certainly wasn't for a share of the Conference USA title.

But after 10 months-plus of division and turmoil within the ranks, the case can be made that East Carolina's 38-32 victory over winless Army was a shot in the arm for the Pirate Nation in more ways than one.

On paper, it mirrored many of ECU's nerve-wracking outings over the past three seasons. Led by a marquee individual performance by running back Marvin Townes, the Pirates constructed a big lead only to be forced to withstand a furious rally by an inspired underdog opponent.

But on an afternoon that might in past seasons have been summarized as one of great frustration for Pirates coaches, players and fans, this win resulted in a chorus of smiles, hugs, and high-fives.

That's what a win feels like when you're 0-6 and your object of affection — East Carolina University — has endured one negative headline after another, both on the field and off.

Previously winless and with a collective pride that had been battered and bruised, Saturday served as a day of healing for the East Carolina community, a brief moment in which it could soothe the gaping wounds that for months have divided it.

"It feels good just to win," Pirates coach John Thompson said. "I'm so proud of our guys."

And he had a right to be.

"You look at 0-6 and you say, 'OK, let's throw in the towel,' " reflected Thompson. "We didn't practice that way. We haven't practiced that way anytime all year long. I know that Army's had some troubles, but you know, so have we."

Almost too many to count. Since before Steve Logan was fired, the East Carolina campus has served as a civil war battlefield of sorts, on which Pirates turned against Pirates.

Internally, ECU suffered the inevitable collateral damage from a years-long skirmish between a former head football coach and a former athletics director, each wishing the other were elsewhere. Following the example of their leaders, ECU fans chose sides and joined the power struggle.

In the end, in the figurative sense, both of those combatants were mortally wounded, leaving their soldiers on the battlefield to piece together the ruins.

That piecing together took a tangible step forward on Saturday.

Here along the Hudson River, amid the shadows of America's greatest warriors — past, present, and future — there was a peaceful Pirate reunion draped in a picturesque backdrop of purple and gold foliage.

For Thompson, there was never any doubt about the day's happy outcome, despite the game's shaky start.

"We came in here to win the football game," Thompson said. "We felt that way all along. We were going to win, even though they jumped up and ran the kickoff back and got the first big play on us."

That's a bold statement about a team for which wins have been as rare this season as a fresh oyster in July. Perhaps it was the perfect battle cry from a team so desperate for a win that selling its soul was becoming more attractive by the day.

After eight-consecutive losses stretching back to last season and a steady stream of lopsided scores, it was beginning to look as if East Carolina's string of 15-straight defeats from '85-'86 could be in serious jeopardy.

As it turns out, that won't be the case and satisfying the hunger for more victories is high on the Pirates' agenda.

"We know how to win," Thompson said. "We know what that feeling is like. That was a fun locker room over there. I think our guys had forgotten how to celebrate a little bit. We've got to practice that a little more, too."

There still are plenty of opportunities for that, though it is unlikely the Pirates will be favored in any of their remaining games. While the back end of the schedule isn't nearly as imposing as the front, the fact still remains that this team has a long way to go.

Aside from a few positions, East Carolina has more question marks than it does answers. The Pirates are shaky at quarterback, thin at receiver and on the defensive front, and downright scary in the secondary.

The offense has been inconsistent at best, while the defense has more holes at times than a loaf of Sunbeam bread.

It almost certainly will take more efforts like Townes' 39-carry, 184-yard performance against the Black Knights. Four-catch, 76-yard days from receiver Richard Hourigan need to become a norm.

That could go a long way towards steering the Pirates' ship back on course, while sewing a thread of unity back into the shredding fabric of ECU's proud football culture.

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

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

This page updated: 02/23/2007 01:52:13 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.