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You really couldn’t have scripted a better end for the East Carolina
seniors on Saturday.
Reese Wiggins, Vintavious Cooper and Kyle Tudor all played starring
the Pirate’s 63-14 win over UAB in the home finale.
East Carolina is still very much in the running to host the Conference
USA championship game. The Pirates will need a win over Marshall to nail
down the East Division title, and most likely would need a win over N.C.
State to clinch that host role.
Wiggins and Cooper were the offensive benefactors of another big day for
junior quarterback Shane Carden.
Carden threw three of his five touchdown passes to Wiggins. He also
handed off — and in one instance made a pitch while falling down — to
Tay Cooper for his three touchdowns.
Wiggins had 142 yards receiving while Cooper rushed for 126 in the
“It was special,” said Wiggins. “This was the first game my whole entire
family had the chance to come and watch me play and it’s the first big
game they’ve all been a part of."
Wiggins stressed that this team is far from done.
“I plan on having one more game (at home),” Wiggins explained. “We work
hard and we see the vision. We are that much closer. We just want to
come out and be consistent and continue to play hard.”
Carden made sure his senior target would get a shot in what could have
been his last game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
“He has been a guy (Wiggins) that’s been here since I’ve been here,”
said Carden. "Obviously he’s been a guy that’s always just kind of
talked to me. He’s just a great old senior that’s just kind of always
been there for me and it’s awesome to be kind of connected with him.”
Tay Cooper was equally excited about his contribution for Senior Day.
“It’s something that I can definitely look back and smile about, knowing
that I did that much and I contributed that much on my senior day,”
Pirate coach Ruffin McNeill was emotional in
his post-game press conference.
"Tonight was a special night," McNeill said. "I chewed the same dirt so
I know the feeling very well. I was blessed and fortunate to win the
last time I played in Dowdy-Ficklen, so I know it was special to those
McNeill likes to talk about “chewing the same dirt.” In reality, the
only ones chewing dirt in Saturday’s game were the players on the other
It was yet another blowout victory. It was another case of a very good
Conference USA team taking care of its own business against a very bad
team from the same league.
The East Carolina defense also had its share of Senior Day stars.
Linebacker Kyle Tudor had the big play for the Pirate “D” with a 50-yard
interception return for a touchdown.
"It was tipped up into the air,” Tudor said. “I just happened to be
"It was kind of a gift,"
added Tudor. "I had a lot of people helping me with blocks. It was
really a defensive effort, not just one person.
"It started to open up and I
got kind of excited. It was happening so fast, I couldn't process it
that quick. I was just running and trying to get into the end zone.”
I really can’t remember a season like this one at East Carolina. The
Pirates have closed out their home season, but still have what could be
four games to play. That’s almost half a season!
First up is the matchup with North Carolina State. The struggling
Wolfpack would like nothing more than to put a monkey wrench in the
Pirates' November plans.
Then it’s the East Division title game in Huntington, WV, on the day
It could be a case of “feast or famine” for the Pirate Nation as the
season comes to a close.
Odd as it sounds, the entire season hinges on a pair of road games to
end the month.