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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

Pirate point to postseason


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Brian BaileyReplay Monday night's BRIAN BAILEY SHOW. Brian's guest was ECU associate AD for administration Lee Workman and the topic was bowl destinations. Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show airs each Monday night from 6:30-7:30 on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930.
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Conference USA Players of the Week
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Denny O'Brien's Harris BCS Poll Ballot
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Conference USA at a Glance
Game Center: ECU 65, Marshall 59 (2OT)
Inside Game Day: Pirates had Herd all the way
Game Slants: Youth served on Senior Day
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Audio: Coach Ruff Post-game
Greg's Game Day Breakdown
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By Brian Bailey
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I love a good defensive struggle.

Somehow, I also enjoyed the fireworks that blasted all day on the day after Thanksgiving, turning Black Friday into Purple Friday for Ruffin McNeill and his East Carolina football team.

Friday’s double-OT win over Marshall was a gut check on several fronts. The defense really struggled, but came up with the biggest play of the game in the second overtime when it recovered a fumble that set up the win.

Shane Carden showed that he was the leader this team needed after taking over for Rio Johnson as the starting quarterback. Carden fired a shot to the end zone in the final seconds to force the Thundering Herd into overtime, and then came through with a second effort on a quarterback sneak for the game-winning score.

Carden talked about the late fourth quarter drive that kept the Pirates that kept the Pirates alive after regulation.

“Things didn’t start the way we wanted with a couple of incompletions,” he said. “We just stayed and believed in ourselves. In a drive like that, you have to believe in one another. You also have to believe you are going to score.”

With 4 seconds left, Carden fired high to former Havelock star Danny Webster to send the game to overtime.

“He got up there,” said Carden. “He made a great play. It was just one of those plays that you have to make happen in a situation like that.”

Some might say that the Pirates picked up an ugly win against the Herd. Pirate head coach Ruffin McNeill smiled at the thought.

“Ugly win?” McNeill questioned and joked. “That (phrase) does not exist, winning games ugly. Ugly wins, I looked it up in the dictionary. Ugly exists. Wins exists. But ugly wins don’t exist.”

With Central Florida’s win over UAB on Saturday, the Pirates will have to sit home on Saturday and watch the Conference USA title game between the Knights and Tulsa.

While ECU could have won the East Division with a win over UCF, it’s still hard to believe that the NCAA would allow the Knights to participate this year, pending their appeal for infractions.

Why wait until UCF leaves Conference USA to hear the appeal? It’s just another inconsistency within the umbrella of the NCAA in college athletics.

So now the Pirates sit and wait on their bowl destination, which will be either the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg, FL, or the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

I am always fascinated by the many possibilities when potential bowl destination for the various teams are discussed. I would love to be a fly on the wall at some of these executive bowl meetings. The guys that come to Greenville in their blazers are always proud as a peacock of their particular game.

Wherever the Pirates end up, Coach McNeill and his staff are ready.

“We will utilize each day to keep our everyday guys fresh,” said McNeill. “It will be a great time to develop our younger players. It’s almost an extra spring practice. We will wait to start game planning the week before we leave for the bowl site.”

The football season flew by. The Pirates still have a chance to finish 9-4 with a bowl win. East Carolina hasn’t had a postseason win since the 2007 Hawaii Bowl, so the purple faithful are certainly eager for bragging rights.

Sometimes programs get spoiled by bowl trips. Last year the Pirates stayed home, so perhaps the players are that much hungrier for a bowl victory.

It’s a great part of the holidays for many!

I would continue this column, but I think ECU or Marshall just scored again.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

11/27/2012 04:09 AM


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