Home drought ends in dramatic fashion
By AARON BEARD
AP Sports Writer
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PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact
INSIDE PIRATE FOOTBALL
Tracking the Classes
NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again
HIGH HOPES FOR HOOPS
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 From the day
he was hired, John Thompson brought boundless energy and infectious
optimism to the East Carolina sideline.
On Saturday, his Pirates
finally had a reason to feel the same way.
Cam Broadwell kicked a
30-yard field goal with 12 seconds left to lift East Carolina past
Tulane 27-25, ending a nine-game home losing streak in dramatic if not
Chris Johnson ran for 158
yards and two first-half touchdowns for the Pirates (1-4, 1-2 Conference
USA), who earned their first win at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in nearly two
years. It also marked the first home win for Thompson, who had lost 15
of 16 games since becoming ECU's head coach last season.
``There's nothing better
than a celebration in a victorious locker room,'' Thompson said.
``These guys ought to feel
good about themselves. They haven't had that opportunity. But they've
been doing the right things.''
Thompson had lost all
eight of his games here in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, earning his only win
as ECU coach at Army last October. But that frustrating streak ended
Saturday behind Johnson's excellent first half and a solid defensive
performance throughout against the Green Wave (1-3, 0-2).
Johnson who had 31
carries on the day and rushed for 107 yards before the break had a
56-yard touchdown run early in the game. He also scored from 5 yards out
in the second quarter by diving for the pylon in the left corner of the
Meanwhile, the Pirates'
defense one of the nation's worst by allowing 43 points per game
gave up only two offensive scores. That allowed East Carolina to
overcome two special teams gaffes that led to Tulane touchdowns.
Then, after surrendering
the lead late, the Pirates put together an eight-play, 50-yard scoring
drive to earn their first home win since beating a 22nd-ranked Texas
Christian team in November 2002.
Jamar Flournoy, a Pirates
linebacker who had four tackles and a key stop on a fourth-quarter
2-point conversion, is in his first season here after transferring from
Hutchinson Community College in Alabama. But the junior heard plenty
from his teammates this week about the losing streak.
``I've been feeling what
they're saying, especially the seniors,'' Flournoy said. ``A lot of guys
were like, 'Man, you just don't know how it feels. We haven't won in a
That was apparent as East
Carolina fans grew louder and louder in the game's final minutes. When
Lester Ricard's hail-Mary pass fell incomplete to end the game, the
Pirates players celebrated at midfield before walking to the student
section to thank their fans.
The Pirates led 21-7 at
halftime, but the Green Wave got some momentum by returning a fumble on
the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Tulane went ahead with two
fourth-quarter TD passes from Ricard, taking a 25-24 lead with 1:51 to
But instead of wilting
under a here-we-go-again feeling, the Pirates responded with the kind of
efficient drive that hasn't been seen often in the Thompson era. James
Pinkney completed two passes for 28 yards and scrambled for a first down
near midfield, and Johnson rushed three times for 15 yards as the clock
dipped under 30 seconds.
Broadwell, who also had a
44-yard field goal early in the fourth, put the Pirates on top with the
``I felt good because we
do that two-minute drill everyday during the week,'' Pinkney said. ``As
a quarterback that's what you want. I wanted the ball in my hands at the
end of the game.''
Tulane's offense managed
just 56 yards in the first half, but got a boost thanks to its play on
special teams. Gabe Ratcliff recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown in
the first quarter, while Israel Route added the 14-yard fumble return
for a score to start the second half.
Those were Tulane's only
touchdowns before Ricard found Roydell Williams for a 36-yard TD pass to
cut the deficit to 24-19 midway through the fourth quarter.
On the next possession,
Ricard completed three straight passes on a 60-yard drive, the last
finding Chris Bush over the middle for a 24-yard TD and the 25-24 lead.
But Ricard was taken down
by Flournoy on the conversion attempt, the third failed 2-point attempt
of the half for the Green Wave. Those missed attempts along with an
interception by Ricard in the end zone to end a second-half drive
It dropped the Green Wave
to 0-5 all-time in Greenville.
``We needed a stop in
ECU's last drive and we didn't get it,'' Tulane coach Chris Scelfo said.
``Our guys rallied back, but this is a tough place to play and that's
one of the reasons we have never won here.''
02/23/2007 10:53 AM
Copyright 2004 The
Associated Press. Bonesville.net contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may
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