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GAME 5 VITALS: Tulane at East Carolina

 • Box Score & Statistics
 • AP: Home drought ends in dramatic fashion
 • O'Brien: Pirates resurrect sentimental script
 • Myatt: Foot of fate true; Spurrier checks in
  Post-Game Audio: Coaches & players
 • 2004 ECU schedule, scores, attendance, TV


East Carolina 27, Tulane 25
Saturday, Oct. 9, 2004
By Denny O'Brien
Story posted Sunday, Oct. 10, 2004

Pirates resurrect stirring script


Bonesville Magazine

• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again


• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door

• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate


GREENVILLE — My guess is East Carolina's 27-25 victory over Tulane Saturday won't be remembered as the best comeback in program history.

In 30 years, it will pale in comparison to Jeff Blake's two-yard plunge against Pittsburgh in 1991, as well as Luke Fisher's Peach Bowl touchdown that punctuated that memorable 11-1 season.

That miracle rally against Miami in '99? No chance of it being replaced by kicker Cameron Broadwell's game-winning 30-yard field goal with seconds remaining.

But for Broadwell and his teammates, the making of nostalgic history of the sort that long galvanized and inspired the Pirate faithful had been lacking until Saturday.

Not anymore.

After nine straight losses and a 1-15 stretch, Cam and Co. don't have to just listen to the stories of heroes and Hail Mary's.

Now they can tell their own.

"I am proud of our football team because these guys have stuck together and you finally saw that," Pirates coach John Thompson said. "This team has battled back.

"We get knocked down, knocked down and they keep getting back up. That is a credit to our coaching staff. It's a credit to this entire program, the Pirate Nation."

And it couldn't have come at a better time.

Following last week's 59-7 loss at Louisville, the Pirates perhaps were nearing the need for life support. Thompson, though always upbeat and eternally optimistic, was in danger of losing favor with fans.

What's more, there was legitimate fear of a winless season, a distinct possibility had the Pirates not executed by design during their final possession.

"Everything is wrist-banded," Pirates offensive coordinator Noah Brindise said of ECU's two-minute offense. "We go over it every week.

"I told the guys before the season when we first installed our two-minute packages, this is going to either win or lose us probably two or three games this year. They executed it. We usually do a pretty good job in practice on the two-minute drill. I think it frustrates our defense at times."

Tulane can attest to that.

With less than two minutes of clock and only one timeout, quarterback James Pinkney engineered the deciding drive as if opposed by his own scout defense. Though his stats were relatively modest — 13-for-23, 103 yards — the Pirate field general's final 99 seconds were like a rerun of Jeff Blake's and Marcus Crandell's days running the huddle.

His offensive linemen blocked. His receivers responded. He was flawless.

It was the first time in Thompson's tenure that East Carolina followed the script that put its program on the map.

"Our guys came back," Thompson said. "I still knew we were going to win the football game. I knew we were going to get down there. I knew Cam was going to hit it. I'm just proud of him. He's been under the gun on a lot of things too."

But not nearly as much as Thompson.

Following the narrow loss to Cincinnati and the spanking ECU received from Louisville, the Pirates coach has been second-guessed for everything from play calling to uniform selection. Saturday's victory and Gatorade shower will relieve some of the heat.

The next task is to leverage the confidence gained from the win and generate a little momentum. For now, though, Thompson can relish the flavor of victory that was prevalent during the program's glory days.

And perhaps start building towards a new era of glory days.

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02/23/2007 01:57:36 AM

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