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
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.
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
"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
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
"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
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.