RALEIGH East Carolina had its chances in
30-24 overtime loss at N.C.
State on Saturday.
got just three points out of a pair of fourth-quarter possessions when
ECU had reached the NCSU 1- and 3-yard lines. Those missed opportunities
were probably the deciding factor as State won a game that it never led
until it was over.
The Wolfpack made a fourth-down play
when the Pirates elected to go for a score in a goal-to-go situation at
the State one early in the fourth quarter. Jon Williams was stopped in
the backfield as Pack safety J.C. Neal came in to wrap him up.
ECU was leading 21-17 at the time with
just under 11 minutes left in the game. Pirates coach Skip Holtz chose
to go for a touchdown rather than a field goal but the gamble apparently
was defused by a missed assignment.
"It was a base play that we run out of
our goal-line package quite a bit," said Holtz, who said his focus
immediately shifted to the ECU defense. "The guy who never turned around
and asked the quarterback was the guy who missed the block."
Holtz said he didn't regret the
decision to go for an 11-point lead rather than send Ben Hartman on for
a field goal try.
"Everybody says if you kick the field
goal that's three points," said the Pirates coach. "But if you kick that
field goal, they're not starting at the 5-yard line which is what led to
our next field goal. ... If you watched our kickoff team, they would
have started off a little better than that.
"I don't regret it. I turned to Greg
Hudson (defensive coordinator). I said, 'What do you think?' He said,
'Go ahead, let's get up two scores now.' So we turned and we went after
The Pirates took a proactive approach.
"We played this game to win," Holtz
said. "I didn't play it conservative or close to the vest and I wouldn't
change anything that I did. I might change a couple of play calls that
didn't work but I would go for it again."
Holtz takes exception
The Pirates coach was asked to comment
on his team's "gutsy effort" in the postgame interview session. Holtz
wasn't buying that characterization.
"There is no gutsy effort," Holtz said.
"We feel like we should be in a game like this and especially with where
we are. We've got to make plays at the end to win. I told this team
they've got 24 hours to get rid of this pain. We've got to regroup and
come together. We've got a conference game coming up next week with
USM takes loss at home
And speaking of league play, there were
some surprises in Conference USA on Saturday. The honeymoon is probably
over for first-year Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora after the Golden
Eagles dropped their league opener to Marshall, 34-27, in Hattiesburg.
ECU will need a win over the Cougars
next week in order to keep pace with the Thundering Herd, who moved
atop the C-USA East Division
with a 2-0 league record.
"Give Marshall a lot of credit," Fedora
said. "They were the better football team today. Their coaches did a
great job of preparing them to play at our place, and they beat us. We
were outplayed and outcoached in every phase. We have a lot of work to
do as a team."
Variety of settings
The Pirates have experienced four
vastly different environments in a 3-1 start. The
season opener in Charlotte at
Bank of America Stadium was a neutral field with good numbers supporting
both ECU and Virginia Tech.
Then the Pirates returned home to
subdue West Virginia with the
full backing of a packed house at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
There was little in the way of
electricity at the Louisiana Superdome last week as ECU pulled out a
28-24 win over Tulane.
The Pirates ventured into the most
challenging atmosphere thus far this season as a sea of red with some
pockets of purple comprised the crowd of 57,583 at Carter-Finley Stadium
"We've played in three sold out
stadiums at this point on national television out of four games," Holtz
said. "We played in Panthers stadium, which was a great environment, a
great setting there at home. It was an awesome environment there to have
the opportunity to play at home.
"Then this one on the road. This was a
great environment today. The one where we had to go down to Tulane and
play down there wasn't near as full or near as loud. I guess the
difference was there you hear clapping. Here, you hear the roar."
Refocusing on C-USA race
ECU players and coaches were obviously
disappointed that they didn't put a win away when they had the chance on
Saturday but Holtz credited State's defensive stands and the play of
Pack quarterback Russell Wilson.
The challenge at hand is to get
prepared for a return to Conference USA play.
"This is something that they've wanted,
meaning the conference," Holtz said. "This is something they've wanted
and they've worked for. We have been close to it the last two years. If
we had to lose this game to win the conference, I would tell you that
this may be the best loss that we've ever had in the history of the