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Plumber needed


From wire, staff and ECU reports

BIRMINGHAM, AL  — Pirate fans, we still have a leak. The same leak Steve Logan has alluded to for weeks since that deadly turnover monster was reigned in.

More than one leak, actually. As a matter of fact, the defense is full of holes — gaping holes which are so big they sometimes can't be plugged even when the game is on the line.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Desmond Robinson, subbing for an injured Paul Troth, led East Carolina on a 4th quarter charge from a 12-point deficit to tie the game, but UAB's own freshman signal caller went to work and and methodically exploited the Pirates' porosity to steer the Blazers to a 36-29 Conference USA victory on Saturday.

Darrel Hackney, whose 424 passing yards accounted for the bulk of the Blazers' 587 yards total offense, directed UAB (5-5, 4-2 C-USA) on a 9-play, 89-yard scoring drive to squelch any ECU thoughts of a repeat of its dramatic comeback win last week at Houston.

Kendal Gibson scored on a 1-yard run with 1 minute left to deliver the fatal blow as UAB, which has a history of muddying up the Pirates' best-laid plans, handed ECU a loss which knocked it all the way from second to 6th place in the C-USA standings.

Logan, ECU's 11th-year head coach, has directed  his teams to bowls the past three seasons and has experienced only one losing season in the last eight years, but he saw both of those trends threatened by Saturday's defeat.

And he knows why.

"We had them [UAB] in good shape [late in the fourth quarter]," he said. "I think they started that last drive on the minus-10. At some point, we've got to get a stop, and we didn't get it."

It's a defensive problem he says the Pirates will labor to fix between now and their December 6 finale against Cincinnati.

"We just have some issues," said Logan. "We have some kids in position to make plays and we're just not making them. So, we just have to keep coaching. That's all that's left to do in the final three weeks of the season."

Hackney went 20-of-34 with three touchdowns and no interceptions as UAB kept its bowl hopes alive while putting ECU in the tenuous position of having to close out the regular season with wins over league leader and 24th-ranked Texas Christian, Southern Mississippi and Cincinnati over the next three weeks to retain post-season eligibility.

East Carolina (3-6, 3-2) trailed 29-17 entering the fourth quarter. But the Pirates tied the game behind Robinson, who played most of the second half after Troth suffered a concussion.

East Carolina's comeback started when Robinson threw a 4-yard scoring pass to Art Brown, cutting UAB's lead to 29-24 with 10:38 left in the game.

Safety Antwane Yelverton added to the score when he tackled Theron Dudley in the end zone for a safety, making it 29-26. A 31-yard field goal by Kevin Miller tied the game at 29 with 4:09 left.

Hackney then sparked the Blazers, completing a 15-yard pass to Roddy White and a 12-yarder to Bernard Anderson before Gibson ran 25 yards to the East Carolina 37.

A 13-yard run by Dudley and runs of 9 and 4 yards by Dan Burks gave UAB a first down at the East Carolina 11 with 1:56 left. Three plays later, Gibson ran into the end zone for the winning points.

02/23/2007 10:51 AM

Copyright 2002  ECU's Sports Information Office and Associated Press contributed to this report.  All rights reserved.  This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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