TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
A memorable night at
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Probably the best part about getting old is that others look to you for
Sometimes I can’t remember what I had for breakfast.
During Saturday night’s weather delay at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, many in
the press box turned to yours truly to see if there had ever before been
such an occurrence during an East Carolina football game.
After ECU Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations Tom McClellan
said he had no record of a delay, folks turned to another on the ECU
staff, Lee Workman, and me. Both of us arrived in Greenville in 1984.
Neither of us remembered anything close to what we saw on Saturday
On the sideline word began circulating that there was definitely bad
weather on the way.
The delay came at a bad time for the home team. The Pirates were driving
and were all set to set up shop deep inside Texas-El Paso territory when
the word came from PA announcer Morgan Ahlers.
The storm was coming. The stadium was evacuated. A very nice Saturday
night crowd was reduced to an empty stadium in a surprisingly short time
ECU officials should be commended for getting the crowd out and safe
before the weather hit.
The media took refuge in the press box. Granted, that old clunker isn’t
exactly the best “safe place” around, but it served its purpose.
Pirate coach Ruffin McNeill had not previously been involved in a
weather delay in his long coaching career.
“Never,” said McNeill after the game. “Not in 32 years of coaching.”
By Monday, McNeill was ready to go into more detail regarding his
feelings about the stadium evacuation and how it affected his team.
“With the delay and the unorthodox way the game played out, I was very
proud of our team for staying focused throughout the game and even
during the delay,” he said. “I also was very proud of our staff for
maintaining the team’s focus during the delay and also making
adjustments during both the delay and the abbreviated halftime.
third group that I was proud of was our fans that were able to stay
around and come back after the delay.”
When play resumed, ECU quarterback Shane Carden was picked off in the
end zone on the first play. Carden shook off that pick and
led the Pirates to their third victory.
Most of the second half was played in a driving rain storm. It really
came down hard at times as the night wore on.
The key to the victory was the ground game. East Carolina may have found
the team’s every down back in Vintavious Cooper. Cooper rushed for 153
yards in the rain, including the clinching touchdown on a bruising
24-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“Give credit to my line,” said Cooper. “They did a great job and I just
Carden agrees with those of us who say the Pirates are at their best
when they can run the football.
“It certainly opens things up,” said Carden.
Carden was also effective on the ground in the Saturday night win. He
had a pair of rushing touchdowns and adds a new dimension to the Pirates
“They are just basic plays,” Carden explained. “I get a good read and
just pull it in and run when I can.”
After a long night, the Pirates now face a short week. East Carolina is
an early 14-point underdog to the Knights of Central Florida.
McNeill says his club will treat this game like a playoff game. UCF has
appealed its postseason ban and is therefore eligible to capture the
conference title at this time. That, of course, could change.
“It really is such strong competition in our conference within the two
divisions for the chance to play in the championship game,” said
McNeill. “Every game is one where you need to be at your best and are
You never know what you’re going to get in a football game. This past
Saturday night added a new and very different chapter.
Thankfully, everyone got out safely before the weather hit.
A special congrats to all of the ECU fans that returned after the delay
and sat through the rain to enjoy the victory.
Ruffin McNeill and his Pirates were singing in the rain after this one,
as the team continued with its tradition of singing the fight song with
the students after a home game win.
Pirate fans will barely be dry when the team is back in action Thursday
night in Orlando!
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10/02/2012 01:50 AM