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College Sports in the Carolinas

View from the East
Monday, September 16, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Morgantown hex up next for rejuvenated Pirates


What a difference a win makes.

It had been 285 days between victories for East Carolina before the Pirates topped Tulane 24-20 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday night.

Since a 28-26 football win at Cincinnati last Nov. 10, there had been five Conference USA wins by the men’s basketball team, a league championship by the baseball team, the hiring of a new women’s basketball coach, the hiring of a new baseball coach and the opening of the $13 million Murphy Center.

It had been a quite a while, but the dry spell ended on a damp night with ECU getting a 1-0 start in league play against an improved Green Wave team.

The great thing that an opening win does in league play is that it allows the program to focus ahead on the prospect of contending for a league championship. That’s especially important considering some of the negative situations that have served as distractions on the program’s periphery in recent weeks and months.

Pirates fans felt justifiably encouraged about the improvement the team showed over the course of its first three games and that attitude creates a feeling of optimism about the remainder of the 2002 season.

The Pirates banished the turnovers that had plagued them in the first two games, making none, zip, zero, nada. Any way you express it, that was a huge victory in itself. If the Pirates don’t beat themselves, that’s a big part of the battle.

“This whole football team is still a work in progress,” said ECU coach Steve Logan. “We’re not really there yet in any one phase quite honestly. We gave up a big punt return. We had a punt blocked last week and that’s the first punt we’ve had blocked in three years. Those type of things are still cropping up, although from game one to two to three, we’re starting to create a little definition.

“Our defense is still growing and we’ll see what they become.”

Sophomore quarterback Paul Troth didn’t have a great game against the Wave — 8 for 18 for 92 yards — but with a productive running game it really didn’t matter. For the first start in three games, Troth didn’t throw an interception. Logan had said before preseason practice that an effective ground game and good defense could allow Troth time to develop. That’s what took place on Saturday night.

“Winning is just a cure-all for just about everything,” Logan said. “It gives you a chance to think more clearly, you play a little bit better. You get after it and take the coaching a little bit better. It’s quite an elixir. It works wonders.”

The Pirates will focus on Army, their next league foe at home on Oct. 5, during three days of practice this week. Then they’ll turn their attention to West Virginia, their road foe on Sept. 28 after an open date.

The Mountaineers also have an open date after a narrow win at Cincinnati on Saturday night. Logan said the Mountaineers are using a spread offense under second-year coach Rich Rodriguez.

ECU will be without center Doug White for several weeks due to an MCL injury. Hagen Mason has been in the playing rotation as White’s back-up but true freshmen Gary Freeman and David Jorgensen may play a reserve role in the offensive line rotation with White out.

ECU has never won in Morgantown, WV. Logan cited the Big East venues where the Pirates have won and those include Miami, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Pitt and Temple.

Now, for a look at the updated pecking order in the Carolinas and brief thumbnails on each of the six teams, who along with ECU, make the State Line Power Rankings© an adventure from week to week.

  1. N.C. State ... Big plays send Wolfpack to first ACC win.
  2. Clemson ... Tigers hold off Georgia Tech for 1-0 ACC start.
  3. ECU ... Potential came into focus on Saturday night.
  4. South Carolina ... Close loss to Georgia starts SEC play.
  5. North Carolina ... Mack has Texas in national picture.
  6. Wake Forest ... Deacons hindered by poor kicking game.
  7. Duke ... Wet win over Pirates was an aberration.

N.C. STATE (4-0, 1-0 ACC)

Philip Rivers threw for 223 yards in a 32-13 win in Raleigh over Wake Forest. State has outscored opponents 165-46 and became the first team in nine games to beat the Deacons by more than seven points. A blocked field goal attempt and a fumble return helped swing the outcome for the Wolfpack, which visits Texas Tech on Saturday.

CLEMSON (2-1, 1-0 ACC)

The Tigers had an assortment of offensive stars in building a 24-6 lead before holding on for a 24-19 win over visiting Georgia Tech. Willie Simmons threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Derrick Hamilton had a 77-yard scoring run and Yusef Kelly added 89 yards rushing for the Tigers, who host Ball State on Saturday.


David Pollack of Georgia receovered a fumble at the Bulldogs’ goal line in the second quarter and was credited with an interception in the end zone for a touchdown in a 13-7 win at South Carolina. The Gamecocks lost two in a row for the first time since going 0-11 in 1999. Temple visits USC on Saturday.


Mack Brown downplayed his return to Chapel Hill as coach of Texas but his team gave him a resounding 52-21 win before a crowd of 60,500, the second largest in Kenan Stadium history. The Tar Heels drew within 31-21 before Texas pulled away. UNC has an open date before hosting Georgia Tech in its ACC opener on Sept. 28.

WAKE FOREST (1-2, 0-1 ACC)

Wake gave freshman quarterback Corey Randolph some playing time and its kicking game continued to struggle. The Deacs missed a 44-yard field goal, had a 36-yarder blocked and also missed an extra point. Wake visits Purdue on Saturday.

DUKE (1-2)

Northwestern drove 97 yards early in the fourth quarter to top the visiting Blue Devils 26-21 after trailing 14-3 and 21-13. Alex Wade ran for 134 yards in the loss and Adam Smith passed for 188. Duke opens ACC play at Florida State on Saturday.

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02/23/2007 12:59:33 AM

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