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College Football in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Monday, November 19, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Carolinas Teams Jockey for Bowls;
Double Standard On Friday Games?

©2001 Bonesville.net

South Carolina has returned to a familiar position in the State Line Power Rankings, No. 1, after winning the biggest game in its state, 20-15, over Clemson. The Gamecocks supplant N.C. State in the top spot. The Wolfpack lost in the last minute, 23-19, to Maryland.

East Carolina failed to create a miracle ending against Louisville and continues to be plagued by inconsistency as the Pirates dropped the game of the year in Conference USA, 39-34, on their home turf.

Wake Forest let some opportunities slip away as well and missed becoming bowl eligible with a 38-33 loss to Georgia Tech. Both the Deacons and North Carolina can become bowl eligible this week. The Tar Heels took a 52-17 feel-good win over Duke.

After four straight wins over the Gamecocks, Clemson got a losing perspective on the rivalry.

Here are the rankings:

State Line Power Rankings© [111901]

1. South Carolina ... Injury-riddled Gamecocks delight a record crowd.

2. N.C. State ... Wolfpack can’t stop late Terps drive to the BCS.

3. East Carolina ... Another Jekyll and Hyde showing for the Pirates.

4. Wake Forest ... Good effort but another close loss.

5. North Carolina ... Heels pull away in the second half.

6. Clemson ... Tigers need to beat Duke on Dec. 1 to be bowl eligible.

7. Duke ... A trip to Death Valley seems an appropriate end to an 0-11 season.

Looking at the teams individually:

EAST CAROLINA

The Pirates could still claim a share of the Conference USA championship, but the Liberty Bowl berth that goes to the league winner has already been filled. Louisville accepted the offer from Liberty Bowl officials in the visitors’ locker room beneath the north stands of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium after edging ECU on Thursday night on ESPN.

The Cardinals go to the Liberty Bowl for the second straight season.

“Repeating is much harder because we wore the target all year long,” said Louisville coach John L. Smith, who was serenaded with “Happy Birthday” by his players after the win in Greenville.

“We wore the target with pride and we talked to our kids about defending it,” said Smith, who turned 53. “We told them you better start defending it the day we got home after the Liberty Bowl. They did that and it’s tough to do that.”

Friday Double Standard?

Next up for the Pirates is Friday's regular season finale against visiting Southern Miss — a game which was the center of much controversy until C-USA and TV executives changed the kickoff from 6 p.m. to 11 a.m.

The game time was altered to accommodate ESPN's decision to add another league game to the day's line-up, with Texas Christian hosting Louisville in the 6 p.m. time slot.

Incidentally, we haven’t heard any criticism of ACC basketball teams, who played games last Friday night during the first round of the state high school football playoffs, similar to that the Pirates endured when the Southern Miss game time was initially announced as 6 p.m. — in conflict with second round high school playoff games.

Charlie Adams, an ECU alumnus and member of the ECU Hall of Fame hasn’t said anything at all about the ACC schedule conflicts with the prep playoffs.

Someone said that if Adams was really concerned about high school football the NCHSAA would allow spring football practice. Then maybe North Carolina would be more competitive in the Shrine Bowl, as opposed to last year’s 66-14 loss to the South Carolina all stars.

The NCHSAA has gone back to playing the bulk of its state title games the day of the Shrine Bowl, which means that the North Carolina Shrine team won’t have players who are involved in the state championship games.

Pirates Need a Little Help from Their Friends in Ft. Worth

Pardon the editorial comment and refocusing on the C-USA race:

The scenario for ECU to get a share of the league title requires a victory over the Golden Eagles early in the day on Friday and a TCU win over the visiting Cardinals that evening.

The Horned Frogs have lost just twice in their last 14 games at Amon Carter Stadium, a tough venue as the Pirates learned when they had to hang on for a 37-30 win there on Oct. 30.

By the same token, ECU’s task against the Golden Eagles is no piece of cake. Southern Miss is 10-2 all-time in games in Greenville. ECU’s only win in the series in the Steve Logan-era was 31-10 in 1994.

Southern Miss leads the overall series 19-7 and had won four straight until the Pirates’ 14-9 win in soggy conditions last year in Hattiesburg, Miss. ECU had not beaten the Eagles in C-USA play until that game.

ECU’s struggling pass defense figures to be tested again. Golden Eagles quarterback Jeff Kelly is coming off a school-record 400-yard passing effort in a 59-6 pounding of Tulane.

Special teams breakdowns have also been a factor lately as a 91-yard kickoff return by Louisville’s Zek Parker triggered a 19-point third quarter for the Cardinals. Failure to recover onside kicks at TCU and Cincinnati almost had disastrous results.

Like those two previous games, the Pirates had a second-half spell in which the offense virtually disappeared and the defense was ineffective, a phenomenon seemingly triggered by Parker’s momentum-grabbing return.

“That, to me, was a big, big play,” Logan said. “It was a surprise touchdown that really knocked us back on our heels.”

The Pirates lost for just the sixth time in 53 games in the Logan era when scoring 28 or more points. ECU ranks last in Conference USA in passing yards allowed per game, an average of 270.4 yards.

“I don’t think the defense could have played any harder,” Logan said after the loss to Louisville. “They chased that quarterback all around the park.”

No one would question ECU’s effort, but execution is another factor.

A win over Southern Miss would probably put ECU in the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Alabama on Dec. 19. Marshall has already accepted a bid to Mobile.

SOUTH CAROLINA

For Gamecocks fans, wins don’t come any sweeter than beating in-state rival Clemson.

Despite a sore shoulder, South Carolina quarterback Phil Petty made a start against the Tigers. He stayed in the game despite dislocating the shoulder in the second quarter. Petty downed a few aspirin before completing 14 of 23 for 152 yards.

“We said before we left the locker room we wouldn’t consider this a successful season if we lost,” Petty said.

Petty hit Andrea Gause for a 36-yard gain on third-and-14 from the USC 10-yard line to get the Gamecocks’ go-ahead drive jump started. Five plays later, Derek Watson’s 6-yard touchdown run was the score that allowed South Carolina to go ahead to stay, 10-9 with 2:26 left in the first half.

The Gamecocks kept dangerous Clemson quarterback Woodrow Danztler from being a game breaker — Dantzler ran 20 times for 102 yards and was 15 of 29 passing for 204 yards and two touchdowns, but he was picked off twice by Gamecocks corner Sheldon Brown.

The first interception came on fourth-and-one from the Tigers’ 43 with Clemson already leading 6-0. Dantzler faked a sneak and then put up a pass to Airese Currie, who was wide open. The ball floated and the scoring opportunity was thwarted by Brown.

“That changed the whole game,” said USC coach Lou Holtz of the interception.

A record crowd of 85,000 jammed Williams-Brice Stadium.

“This is our biggest win since I’ve been here,” Petty said. “This is the happiest I’ve even been.”

South Carolina (8-3) is waiting to learn where it will be heading for its bowl game. It could match up with an ACC team in the Peach Bowl.

N.C. STATE

Credit the Terps and their big-money drive in Raleigh that culminated with an eight-yard pass from Shaun Hill to Guilian Gary. That score overcame a bit of misfortune for Maryland minutes earlier and put Coach Ralph Friedgen’s first-year club in a BCS bowl as the ACC champions, a value of about $11 million.

The Terps had been stunned with 2:51 to go when receiver Rich Parson had been stripped of the ball just short of the goal line after getting behind the State secondary. It looked like a 75-yard touchdown and was eerily reminiscent of the misfortune that befell ECU’s Art Brown in the UNC game this season. State got a touchback but couldn’t run the clock out and the Terps subsequently drove 61 yards in 10 plays to win.

“It’s a 60-minute football game and you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Maryland,” said NCSU coach Chuck Amato. “They never doubted at all that they were going to come back and do it.”

State got four field goals from kicker Adam Kiker.

“One of our goals was to score touchdowns in the red zone and we didn’t do it,” said Pack quarterback Philip Rivers.

State (6-4) hosts Ohio on Saturday and needs a win to enhance its bowl situation.

WAKE FOREST

At 5-5 overall and 3-5 in the ACC, the Deacons have a remote shot at a bowl if they beat Northern Illinois (6-4) in a make-up game. Wake would probably have to slip in somewhere as an at-large team, although the NCAA reduced bowl-qualification standards to five wins for teams who are playing just 10 games if they were unable to reschedule from Sept. 15.

Regardless, the Deacons have shown significant improvement.

“We went into the game expecting that we could have won,” said Deacons first-year coach Jim Grobe. “We have made a lot of strides this year. I couldn’t be happier by the effort of our kids. We just didn’t make the plays when it counted. Bottom line is we lost to a very fine football team.”

That’s been a recurring theme for the Deacons. Four of their five league losses have been by seven points or less.

NORTH CAROLINA

The Tar Heels needed a boost after losses to Georgia Tech and Wake Forest and they got it with the return of quarterback Ronald Curry from a two-game absence.

Curry threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in UNC’s 12th consecutive win over the Blue Devils. The Tar Heels’ had 560 yards of total offense, their biggest total since piling up 637 against Ohio in 1995.

Curry moved into first place in career passing at UNC with 4,871 yards, relegating Jason Stanicek to second place. Curry also became No. 1 among UNC quarterbacks with 13 career rushing touchdowns.

“I guess there’s something about that two-headed quarterback,” said first-year UNC coach John Bunting. “... I think Ronald Curry is a real happy guy, to be back and playing ball again. His touchdown run was one of the most phenomenal I’ve ever seen. I went right over to Darian (Durant) and said, ‘Don’t you ever try to do that.’ ”

Carolina (6-5, 5-3 ACC) needs a win at home over SMU on Saturday to be bowl eligible.

Former ECU assistant James Webster, now a member of the UNC staff, missed the game after being hospitalized with a cut hand from a broken glass. Webster reportedly lost a significant amount of blood after breaking a glass at the team hotel during a pep talk at the team hotel. He was to remain hospitalized in intensive care Saturday night.

CLEMSON

There is a lot of parity among teams in the Carolinas considering the sixth-place Tigers lost by just five points on the No. 1 team’s home field on Saturday. The Tigers hadn’t lost in Columbia since 1987.

Clemson (5-5) has now lost four out of its last five games and needs a win over Duke on Dec. 1 to be bowl eligible. That gives Clemson some extra time to dwell on the devastation of the loss to the Gamecocks.

“You don’t know this rivalry until you lose,” said Clemson linebacker Chad Carson.

“I’d agree with that,” said Tigers coach Tommy Bowden. “I’ve got to go to 25 IPTAY (Booster) meetings in the off-season and that’s the first thing they ask about.”

DUKE

The Blue Devils were in the familiar position at Chapel Hill of playing competitive football for roughly half the game. UNC’s lead was just 24-17 midway through the third quarter but Duke’s losing streak was subsequently extended to 22 games by overwhelming proportions.

“My hat’s off to Duke,” said UNC coach John Bunting. “They came out here and played hard. They’ve been doing that all year.”

Duke tight end Mike Hart caught a pass in a 22nd consecutive game, but Duke was limited to just 231 total yards of offense.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:03:28 AM
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