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Game Center: East Carolina 58, Tulsa 24

Nov. 9, 2013 • Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium • Attendance: 44,076 • The Season

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Inside Game Day
Saturday, November 9, 2013

By Al Myatt

Past and future present in ECU win

By Al Myatt
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GREENVILLE — Steve Logan was back in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday for the first time since a 42-26 East Carolina loss to Cincinnati on Friday night, Dec. 6, 2002.

He was dismissed as Pirates head coach by former athletic director Mike Hamrick the following morning after a 4-8 season had brought his career record to 69-58.

The coach with the most football wins in ECU history was flanked by the son of Carter Suggs, the late world class sprinter for the Pirates, and David Garrard, who contributed significantly as quarterback from 1998 to 2001 to many of those 69 victories during Logan's ECU career.

Logan stood on the turf of Bagwell Field once again. He waved to Pirate Nation and acknowledged the love. Then he returned to his place in line and gave his former quarterback a pat on the back.

Garrard's Pirate resume included a 27-23 win over Miami of Florida in Raleigh and a 23-6 triumph over N.C. State in Greenville in 1999.

The competitor in Garrard came out recently as he came out of retirement to join the New York Jets despite some knee problems. A Jets open date allowed him to get back to his ECU roots.

Also recognized was Harold Randolph, a linebacker from 1975 to 1977, who helped the Pirates transition to the major college level from the Southern Conference.

The crowd greeted all heartily and that was good to see, especially the cheers for Logan, who was forced out on bitter terms because of an unwieldy relationship with the AD.

The Friday night game itself, Logan's last at ECU, was a point of contention because of its conflict with the traditional night for high school football.

Hamrick said he had no choice because of Conference USA's television contract. For some reason, Hamrick did not elect to notify Logan in advance of the decision to schedule the Friday night game opposite the prep playoffs.

In the wake of the controversy over the Friday night dustup and his subsequent firing of Logan, Hamrick himself was gone from ECU before the following season arrived.

A lot of water has gone down the river since then.

The healing that Saturday's halftime ceremony represented was good for the program.

Logan more than deserved that moment and he handled it like a gracious pro.

Current ECU coach Ruffin McNeill said he didn't get to talk with the new hall of famers. The schedule demands of a game weekend don't allow for much socializing, but at least the Pirates put forth an effort that Logan would appreciate in subduing Tulsa, 58-24.

"I respect his critique and his thought process," McNeill said of his coaching colleague. "He's done it at the highest level. He's a really good football coach and a better person. I thought the hall of fame induction was well-deserved. I hope he would be pleased with us."

Shane Carden completed 34 of 50 passes for 384 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for two scores. Justin Hardy and Isaiah Jones combined for 18 catches and 203 yards with three TDs.

The Pirates (7-2, 5-1 Conference USA) didn't score on their first possession for the first time this season but more than regrouped to outgain the Golden Hurricane, 505-363.

The homecoming win represented another step toward ECU's bid for the league championship in its final season in Conference USA.

Randolph helped ECU win the Southern Conference in 1976 in the Pirates' last year in that league.

It appears that the East Division berth in the C-USA title game will come down to ECU's Nov. 29 game at Marshall.

Ironically perhaps, that's another Friday game, although it likely will be played early enough to prevent conflict with the high school playoffs.

The Pirates are seeing the league title in the big picture. That's why Carden talked about playing better despite breaking his own school record for touchdown accountability with seven.

"We talk about playing with a championship nature and we weren't quite there at times tonight," Carden said. "The score was what it was. The stats are all that and that's great but I think there's a lot of throws, me personally, that I can look back on that I should have made that I didn't."

At the same time Carden thought he made some throws that might have been among his best.

The Pirates are pursuing a goal, and the win over the Golden Hurricane was a means to achieving an end.

Relatively speaking, ECU appears to have come a long way since its last meeting with Tulsa. In McNeill's first game as head coach at ECU in 2010, it took a Hail Mary pass from Dominique Davis to Justin Jones as time expired for a 51-49 Pirates win.

When ECU scored on a 100-yard interception return by DaShaun Amos as the clock ran out Saturday, the issue had long been decided.

Next up is Alabama-Birmingham and another set of emotions for Senior Day.

Getting another win is the bottom line in terms of the program goal, and the players understand that is what their preparation this week is about.

A game such as the Nov. 23 date at N.C. State might have been cause to look ahead and circle the calendar in the Logan era. The program and the fan base have become more focused on the league race now, even as the Pirates will transition to the American Athletic Conference after the present school year.

"It's about the next practice now," McNeill said last week. "It's about one game at a time, but it's also about the next half, the next quarter, the next play."

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11/10/2013 03:18:06 PM


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