TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
November 16, 2010
Title shot still
on Ruff's radar
Pirates have plenty
to play for heading to Rice
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East Carolina's win over
UAB Thursday night combined with Central Florida's loss to Southern Miss
on Saturday certainly adds to the plot of this 2010 football season.
A third straight
Conference USA East Division title is contingent upon the Pirates
winning out and having UCF drop one of its final two games. The Knights
finish with road games at Tulane and Memphis and will be favored to win
Still, there’s a shot, and
in November that’s all you can really ask for.
“Like I’ve mentioned
before, anything can happen here in this league,” said Coach Ruffin
McNeill at his weekly news conference on Monday. “East Carolina lost one
last year and won it and two the year before. We just have to make sure
we always stay focused here on what we can control, which is our
preparation during the week.
"We focus on one game a
week because that’s all we can play. We have to make sure we stay the
win over North Carolina State
may be the most memorable for Pirate fans, it’s the
victory over UAB that may be the
one that proves to be the most important for the season.
That Thursday night win at
Legion Field snapped a two-game losing streak and kept East Carolina in
the league title chase.
It also proved to be a
psychological comeback for a Pirate defense that had been shredded
before to the tune of a
76-point outburst by Navy.
“I was really pleased with
the win and the way we fought,” said McNeill. "I thought it showed
character and great competitive spirit, which is one of the intangibles
I want to be a part of this team. The determination and never-say-die
attitude that we’ve talked about as a football team were present
Thursday. It was a big win that made the weekend go by a lot of faster.”
Next up is a trip to
Houston to take on Rice. The last time ECU battled the Owls in Houston
the Pirates came into the game in the driver’s seat in the C-USA East
Division race. The Owls kicked a field goal with three seconds left to
stun the Pirates 18-17. East Carolina led by 8 in that game with just
over two minutes to play.
The Pirates should have
won that game. The Pirates should win this week, but anything is
possible in Conference USA.
Rice has certainly put
points on the scoreboard and will most likely do so again this weekend.
This East Carolina defense doesn’t have to throw a shutout, but it will
have to slow the Owls down and create a turnover or two.
The short week leading up
to the UAB game was a disadvantage for sure, especially playing on the
road. Now the Pirates have had a couple of days to rest and gear up for
the last two games.
“I think we needed those
two days,” said McNeill. “The coaches did, too. It was a jam-packed
week. The two days helped us get our feet back underneath us a little
This time of year any
extra day to heal is a blessing.
Former East Carolina
quarterback David Garrard has had his share of magical moments during
his NFL career.
He added one to his list
Jaguars and the Houston Texans were headed for overtime when Garrard
threw one final, high-arcing pass towards the left side of the end zone.
Defensive backs are always
taught to knock the football straight down, and not to go for the
interception. That’s exactly what Houston’s Glover Quinn tried to do.
Quinn went up and batted the ball straight down.
He batted the ball
straight down into the gut of Jacksonville’s Mike Thomas.
Touchdown Jaguars! David
Garrard and the Jags had pulled one out of the fire on a “Hail Mary.”
Garrard told reporters
afterward that all he could see were bodies scattering and the ball
getting tipped. The crowd told him that he had orchestrated a miracle
“I’ve never been a part of
anything like that,” Garrard said in his postgame press conference. “I
was just hoping that I had thrown it far enough.”
The play is called rebound
and is designed for one of the receivers to catch the football after a
tip. It wasn’t exactly designed the way it turned out, but Garrard and
the Jaguars will certainly take it.
Lost in all of the
excitement was the fact that Garrard completed his 13 previous passes in
a row to get in position for the game-winner. That’s 14 completions in a
row to end the game.
Completion number 14 will
go down as one of the greatest in Jacksonville Jaguars history.
Garrard was in Greenville
just last week during the Jaguars' bye week. While he was home he
announced a new partnership with Beau’s Buddies of Greenville, a cancer
awareness organization, and his own foundation. The two groups will join
up for a celebrity golf tournament.
Garrard told me he’s
anxious to give back and support an area that gave so much to him during
his collegiate days.
He’s a class act and
deserves all of the success he’s getting in the NFL.
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