Scoreboard truly didn't tell the story
||The post-game slants
and audio bytes, as
penned and digitally
recorded by staff
Game No. 10 Vitals: ECU vs. USF
GREENVILLE Sometimes the
final tally fails to tell the tale. In East Carolina's 38-37 double-overtime
loss to South Florida Saturday, it should be remembered only as a minor
Yes, officially the Pirates
were credited with the loss, the result to which they have grown overly
accustomed over the past two seasons. For those with access only to the box
score, it would be tempting to lump yesterday's performance with the rest.
Those who witnessed the
shootout know better.
"This team showed so much
backbone, showed so much character to be where we've been and with the stuff
that happened to us tonight," Pirates coach John Thompson said. "We had some
warriors that stepped up.
"Our theme this week was step
up, be accountable, do the job. They did it. I don't know that I've ever had
a situation where we came out on the bottom end of the scoreboard where I
felt like these guys didn't deserve that. They're winners. They were winners
down there in that dressing room. They were winners in that football game
Only the scoreboard seemed to
miss the point.
Had it paid better attention,
it would have seen a 1-8 Pirates football team fighting for survival as if
it were 8-1. Almost every play was treated as if a Conference USA
championship and Liberty Bowl berth was on the line.
Just how that oversized
calculator could ignore the poise of redshirt freshman quarterback James
Pinkney is hard to fathom. Though not spectacular 16-of-34, 146 yards and
a touchdown the case can be made that his steady play under center was the
best this season given the caliber of the opponent.
And what about Marvin Townes?
All he had to show for his fourth 100-yard game was a rack of battered ribs.
Certainly the Pirates' workhorse deserved more than a trip to the training
But no justice from the
Perhaps Thompson should have
sent fullback Vonta Leach on a zone dive over the end zone bleachers and
into the support posts. Judging by the ease with which he trampled over
Bulls defenders, that big-screen television would have posed no threat to
"Vonta Leach is a warrior,"
Thompson said. "I absolutely love what the guy did out there tonight. (He)
put the team on his back and took us in there. (He) did some wonderful,
Almost too many to count.
With Townes and backup Robert
Tillman both out with sore ribs, Leach shifted to tailback and took the game
over, piling up 111 yards on 26 carries. With each carry, the 250-pound
senior got stronger, scattering would-be tacklers like a weed-eater on a
"He kept wanting it and we kept
feeding him," Thompson said. "Somebody better get him on their team. If
anybody's got a job opening, hire him, whether you are in the NFL or
whatever you are."
On the game's final carry, he
showed the pizzazz of an elusive scatback, bouncing off tackle and sprinting
for the pylon with a vengeance. His third touchdown pulled the Pirates to
within one with the extra point pending.
If it weren't for one of the
rarest plays in football a partially blocked extra point they might
still be playing today. Better yet, subtract a couple of highly questionable
calls, including the Bulls' final touchdown a trap in the end zone by
receiver Elgin Hicks that was ruled a catch and maybe we call it an early
"I don't know what I'm supposed
to say or do," Thompson said. "But you know what? It's a shame. It's a
shame. (The officials) do their best. They're good guys and they try their
best. That's just a part of the game."
On this day, it played a larger
role than normal. In a game filled with subplots and twists, the men in
stripes were the underlying theme.
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This page updated:
02/23/2007 01:52:16 AM.