College Football in the Carolinas
from the East
Monday, November 12, 2001
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer
Carolinas Pecking Order
Wolfpack and ECU Emerge — for Now
After three static weeks in the State Line Power Rankings,
several stunning outcomes have given the poll a good shaking up.
East Carolina coach Steve Logan reminded us last week of something former
NFL coach Bill Parcells said:
“Your record is what you are.”
Division I-A teams in the Carolinas have just three losses and N.C. State
has the biggest win to date of any of those teams, a 34-28 win over Florida
State at Tallahassee on Saturday. Based largely on that triumph, the crown
jewel in the Wolfpack’s current three-game winning streak, State has vaulted
to No. 1 this week.
ECU has maintained its focus on the Conference USA race and is the only
I-A team in the Carolinas in realistic contention for a league championship.
The nation will be watching on ESPN as the Pirates host Louisville in a
C-USA showdown on Thursday night.
Wake Forest’s stunning rally for a 32-31 win at North Carolina, South
Carolina’s 54-17 pounding from visiting Florida, and Maryland’s first win in
nine meetings with Clemson, 37-20, have impacted the pecking order in the
Carolinas — at least for this week — in a profound fashion.
Alas, Duke is the only team that wasn’t involved in the musical chairs.
Here's a look at the updated State Line Power Rankings© — let’s include
last week’s rankings in parentheses to illustrate the magnitude of the
State Line Power
1. N.C. State ... You’ve got to be real good to win at Doak Campbell
Stadium and the Wolfpack proved they are.
2. East Carolina ... Barely winning is still winning and the Pirates
still control their destiny in C-USA.
3. South Carolina ... Gamecocks were transformed into Gator bait.
4. Wake Forest ... Jim Grobe has shown he can coach and that Jim
Caldwell left some talent to work with.
5. North Carolina ... A U-turn in victory lane.
6. Clemson ... An average team unless Woodrow Dantzler has a breakout
7. Duke ... Those freshmen and sophomores will be big boys one day. (7)
Switching gears and looking at the football programs individually:
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will be the site of the biggest football game in
Conference USA this season, but who has the payback motivation working for
them? ECU won 28-25 last season at Louisville but the Cardinals recovered to
win the league championship, a title the Pirates are steadfastly seeking
“Now it comes down to what we’ve been working for this past year,”
Louisville coach John L. Smith told the hometown Courier-Journal after a
34-10 win over Houston moved the Cardinals to 9-1 overall and 5-0 in the
league. “We’ll show up,” stated Pirates coach Steve Logan, who may be trying
to deflate the hype.
ECU’s last Thursday night home game was a haven for special teams miscues
and big plays by Virginia Tech before the Pirates gathered some respect in
the second half of a 45-28 loss.
“It was tough to prepare for this game, but I think we were pretty
disciplined to go out and take care of business,” said Louisville’s Anthony
Floyd, who had a 52-yard punt return for a touchdown against Houston.
“Everybody on this team was aware of East Carolina. We kind of looked at
this game as something we had to get through to set up a game that we really
want to play.”
Louisville was a 28-13 winner at Cincinnati two weeks ago. The Pirates
led the Bearcats 28-3 in the first half before enduring a second half
reminiscent of last week’s struggle at TCU.
For the second straight week, the Pirates defense managed to knock a more
beatable, less mobile quarterback out of the game. Casey Printers stepped up
in Fort Worth with some gaudy passing numbers. True freshman George Murray
stepped up in Cincinnati for injured classmate Gino Guidugli and showed
great relish for the quarterback draw.
Another missed possession on an onside kick a la TCU gave Cincinnati a
chance to win with a 52-yard field goal attempt by Jonathan Ruffin, last
year’s Lou Groza Award winner. His boot was short and made ECU bowl eligible
with its 6-3 overall record.
Like the Cards, the Pirates are 5-0 in the league.
“Whatever it takes,” has emerged as ECU’s motto.
It took 234 rushing yards and three touchdowns from Leonard Henry for ECU
to subdue Cincinnati for the 12th time in the 14-game series. Pirates
quarterback David Garrard, who contributed 159 yards passing to ECU’s 464
yards of total offense, is confident Henry will be in top form on Thursday
Chuck Amato’s alto voice was even higher as he was choked up with emotion
following State’s stunning 34-28 win at Florida State on Saturday. Seminoles
freshman quarterback Chris Rix threw incomplete in the end zone the last two
plays and Amato, formerly FSU’s defensive coordinator, had a major upset
over his former boss Bobby Bowden.
“I’m still undefeated in homecoming games in this stadium,” Amato said.
Good point, although the first 18 wins came when Amato was on the FSU
sideline. Bowden lost for the first time in 26 homecoming games.
“Chuck knew us like a book and knew how to take advantage of us,” Bowden
said. “He knew how to confuse us. They had us so off balance.”
State’s Ray Robinson ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Pack
quarterback Philip Rivers completed 26 of 33 passes for 245 yards as State
had 463 yards of total offense.
State had 26 first downs and controlled the clock for 34:58 as FSU’s
winning streak against ACC foes at home ended at 39 games.
State can’t win the ACC but can be instrumental in determining if the
Noles will extend their string of nine league titles. The Wolfpack, now bowl
eligible, hosts Maryland on Saturday — the Terps can secure the league title
with a win in Raleigh.
Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, Coach Lou Holtz was looking at a rather
lengthy list of injuries after the Florida game. Quarterback Phil Petty, who
hurt a shoulder, and running back Derek Watson, who sustained a hip pointer,
left the game on the same play — an interception return for a touchdown by
Florida’s Travis Carroll.
Big-time USC linebacker Kalimba Edwards sprained a knee and didn’t play
in the second half. What really hurts is that USC is scheduled to host state
rival Clemson on Saturday.
“We felt we had to play conservatively to keep them off the field as much
as we could,” Holtz said. "It was 17-10 and we missed a field goal. Then it
all fell apart. I can’t tell you why. ...
“We are really beat up. I feel terrible for all the fans that showed up
with all the excitement. We just got beat by a far superior team. Give them
The Deacons were in a 24-0 hole at halftime in Chapel Hill on Saturday.
The Tar Heels were talking about a shutout, reporters were talking to Peach
Bowl representatives about UNC’s postseason prospects, and Wake coach Jim
Grobe was challenging his team to play for pride.
Of all the conversations, Grobe’s had the most substance. The Deacons
followed a win at Virginia from a 10-point deficit by regrouping for a 32-31
win at Chapel Hill and their second straight victory at Kenan Stadium.
John Stone scored on an end around to void the shutout talk and Fabian
Davis dived into the end zone on a similar play for another touchdown. The
Deacons subsequently used the end around fake on a short scoring run up the
middle by Tarence Williams, who ran for 101 yards for the game.
A bad snap by Carolina for a safety and Wake was within 31-26 with 4:49
left. A defensive stop, a scoring drive capped by James MacPherson’s
one-yard keeper, and the Deacons were on top 32-31 with 1:17 to go.
All Carolina needed for a homecoming win was a field goal but UNC
quarterback Darian Durant was stripped of the ball by Wake defensive back
Quinton Williams on an all-out blitz with teammate Caron Bracy recovering to
seal the miraculous upset with 45 seconds left.
Grobe brought almost all his staff from Ohio when he took the Wake job.
“If we’ve found one thing about these kids, it’s that they don’t quit,”
Tar Heels coach John Bunting didn’t expect to be explaining a loss after
his team’s first half performance.
“Two weeks ago we played at Clemson and it was one of the most complete
games I’ve ever been around in my entire career as a player or coach,”
Bunting said. “Today was perhaps the most complete collapse I’ve ever been
“It’s disappointing. That’s what I told the team. Give Wake Forest credit
for hanging in there for 60 minutes. The inconceivable happened in the
second half. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would play like
Ronald Curry, who split time with Durant during UNC’s five-game winning
streak, missed the game to attend the funeral of a cousin in Virginia.
UNC can still earn bowl eligibility with wins over Duke and SMU.
The Tigers had won eight straight in its series with Maryland and 13 of
the last 14. But four second-half interceptions by the resurgent Terps led
to a 37-20 win and put Coach Ralph Friedgen’s first-year club a win, at N.C.
State this week, away from securing a BCS berth.
Clemson trailed 34-6 before putting a measure of respect into the final
The Tigers can still beat Duke in a make-up game from the week of Sept.
15 to become bowl eligible if they are unsuccessful at South Carolina this
Two more likely losses at UNC and Clemson and an 0-11 season will
mercifully be over, the losing streak will be at 23 games and Blue Devils
coach Carl Franks can continue developing his youthful charges in the
Don’t laugh but Duke tight end Mike Hart is a legitimate candidate for
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