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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
By Brian Bailey
WNCT-TV 9 Sports Director

Brian Bailey

Just what the doctor ordered

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

The best way to cure a bad loss is to get back on the horse and ride.

East Carolina did just that on Saturday, blasting annual nemesis Southern Miss 55-14 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Yes, the other team wore black and yellow uniforms. Still, this barely resembled the program that came into the game with 16 wins in their last 19 trips to Greenville.

Southern Miss had dominated the Pirates over the years. Even with all of those wins, though, the games tended to be competitive.

That was not the case this season. East Carolina rested most of its key players early and barely broke a sweat in the big triumph.

Southern Miss was not a good football team. Give credit to the Pirates for coming out prepared and ready to put the Tulane loss behind them.

“I thought we had a great week of preparation,” said ECU coach Ruffin McNeill after the victory. “It was a tough road stretch we were on and it was great to get back home in front of our fans. We had a great group of fans that showed up today.”

The crowd was pretty good despite the weather and despite the fact that the opposition brought a 17-game losing streak into the matchup.

Add in a bad team with a focused opponent coming off a loss, and things did not bode well for the anything but "Golden" Eagles.

“I thought the kids executed well, offensively, defensively, and on special teams,” McNeill added in his post-game remarks. “It was one of the best performances of all three sides playing together as one. It was what we’d been aiming for.”

Good teams get better with each passing week. Even though the Pirates hit a speed bump in New Orleans, several Pirates continue to shine and improve.

Shane Carden and Justin Hardy will re-write the Pirate record book before the end of next season. Carden started hot on Saturday and had the Pirates comfortably ahead before the Golden Eagles really knew what hit them.

And how much fun is it to watch Justin Hardy! Hardy is such a hard worker and great person off the field. His quiet leadership is really a benefit, especially in a year that East Carolina has lost so much in the receiving corps.

Hardy was named Conference USA's offensive player of the week on Monday. He caught 10 passes for 126 yards in the Pirates’ rout of Southern Miss. He did all of that in just one half of football. Truth be known, his services really weren’t needed after the intermission.

It was Hardy's first honor from Conference USA this season. Carden was named the league’s offensive player of the week in both the first and last weeks of September.

The Pirates get a rare, second off-week this week.

Coach Ruff had said the staff wanted to divide the season into thirds. This final part of the season features home games with Tulsa and UAB, and road trips to Florida International, Marshall and North Carolina State.

The Pirates will be big favorites at FIU and then return to Greenville to host back to back games against the Golden Hurricane and the Blazers.

Three wins would send ECU to Huntington with an 8-2 record. That game will most likely decide the Conference USA East Division title.

First things first, though.

It’s a bye week. It’s a chance to get healthy and take a break before starting down the home stretch.

As the Pirates proved at Tulane, there are no easy games.

Except maybe for Southern Miss.

And I still find that hard to believe.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

PAGE UPDATED 10/22/13 01:20 AM.

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