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


Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.637.2944 for flexible options & rates.



Game 12: ECU 21, N.C. STATE 16


The Slants of the Game
Sunday, November 26, 2006

By Denny O'Brien

Win in Raleigh symbolic of quick turnaround

All Rights Reserved.

RALEIGH — Two years ago, Saturday's showdown against N.C. State loomed as the primary future gauge for East Carolina's then-troubled football program.

On that mist-covered afternoon in 2004, ECU surrendered 52 points, managed only 14, and the attention of the rank-and-file was focused squarely on who would be its next coach. That it occurred against the rival Wolfpack was further justification for AD Terry Holland's decision to make a change.

A picture of how far ECU has traveled since that forgetful day was sure to be framed in last night's rematch in Carter-Finley Stadium. And though the Pirates won 21-16, the margin still didn't paint a complete portrait of ECU's progress since the two teams last met.

That's because the Pirates were far more convincing than the final score suggests. ECU also is on a completely different planet than the hopeless one on which they existed under John Thompson.

"They've come a long way in the two years that I've been here," Pirates coach Skip Holtz said. "This program has come a very long way in two years, and it's not me, it's not coaches. It's these players who have made a commitment to get it done.

"They've been awesome. I've never seen a team that works like this one. I've never been around a team that wanted something more, that had its sights set on the prize at the end, and they weren't going to take no for an answer."

That ECU was able to maintain that focus on the heels of its most crushing loss of the season is a testament to just how far the Pirates have climbed.

Because heading into Saturday, ECU's pressing question wasn't the importance of playing its biggest in-state rival. Whether or not the Pirates could shake the emotional hangover from a heart-crushing defeat at Rice was by far the bigger issue.

Judging solely by the reaction of ECU's players moments after the Owls nailed the game-winning field goal, the odds seemed 50-50 at best. You would have found a more jovial bunch in the waiting room of your local dentist.

If nothing else, Saturday shaped up to be a barometer for the program's mental and emotional makeup.

"From a team standpoint, I think (the Rice loss) is still in us today," cornerback Travis Williams said. "I'll admit that I just got over it last night.

"I know that I had to come out here and not let Rice beat me twice. Because if you think about that loss, and you're coming up against another opponent, you're going to get beat again just by thinking about that loss last week.

"I think we did a good job of handling adversity."

The Pirates certainly did when they found themselves down 10-7 with only 34 seconds remaining before intermission. All James Pinkney did was hit playmaker Aundrae Allison for an amazing 53-yard scoring strike to give the Pirates a 14-10 halftime lead and a complete tilt in momentum.

And ECU definitely compensated for the loss of its best offensive linemen, senior left tackle Eric Graham. It amazingly did so with three freshmen who paved the way for a 92-yard day from Brandon Fractious and the game-clinching score.

That goes without mentioning the talent deficit the Pirates were facing on paper. Though ECU possessed the better record, State's roster was peppered with more blue-chip athletes.

"It feels great to know that the same team put up 52 on us," Williams said. "They came into this game probably thinking the same thing. But we just weren't going to let that happen.

"They've got more talent? What it is, is they've got players who have big names. That's all it is."

It certainly seemed that way.

State might own the better reputation for producing NFL standouts on defense, but it was East Carolina that proved far more stingy. And while State coach Chuck Amato has been touted for luring first class speed and skill to Raleigh, Williams, Allison and Fractious appeared quicker than anything the Wolfpack put on the field.

So quick that ECU has successfully climbed from the bottom of the Division I-A ranks to a spot in a postseason bowl. Doing so in two years affirms the fact that the decision to hire Holtz was the right one.

Doing so with a convincing win over N.C. State on its home field seemed down-right fitting.

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

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

02/23/2007 02:03:51 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.