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As good as it has been, the East Carolina football season comes down to
one final road trip.
If things go well, we will get one more home game at Dowdy-Ficklen
Pirate fans in Raleigh on Saturday were treated to a “workman’s like”
performance from their team against N.C. State.
East Carolina scored on its first possession. After the Wolfpack
answered with a touchdown of their own, ECU regained control and really
never looked back.
The final was 42-28, but the game really wasn’t that close.
Pirate coach Ruffin McNeill rested most if not all of his defensive
starters late. That led to a 21-point fourth quarter for State which
made the final numbers appear much closer than the game actually was.
East Carolina's fans rocked Carter-Finley Stadium with their patented
“Purple-Gold cheer” in that fourth quarter. I closed my eyes and I could
have sworn it was as loud as it has ever been at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The Pirates collected wins
over North Carolina and N.C.
State in the same year for the first time in the program’s history.
Coach McNeill made a point to tell his team that fact in his postgame
This team had a job to do on Saturday and did it well. It was a big win,
but an expected one. The celebration was subdued, especially when you
think about just how badly the Pirate Nation loves to beat the Wolfpack.
After the game all thoughts turned to Marshall, the opponent in a
one-game showdown in Huntington, WV, on Friday for the Conference USA
East Division title. A Pirate win will make East Carolina the host in
the Conference USA championship game on December 7th.
“We thought it would come down to this at the start of the season,” said
McNeill. “Marshall has a great football team and we do, too. We need a
great week of practice, that’s the vision, and we’ll have to play well.”
Pirate quarterback Shane Carden shared those sentiments.
“We’ve known what was coming for a while,” said Carden. “We know what we
have to do. The last two meetings have gone overtime and this should be
another great game.”
East Carolina linebacker Zeek Bigger had a huge smile on his face after
the win over the Wolfpack.
“We know the 24-hour rule is in effect,” said Bigger about Coach
McNeill’s dictate on just how long his team should think about the
previous game. “I may smile that long. It was a great win for our team.”
The Pirates are so much more effective when they run the ball
successfully. Tay Cooper had another big day in Raleigh. He was a big
part of the East Carolina wins over both the Wolfpack and the Tar Heels.
“It feels great,” said Cooper. “I just really love being a part of this
program and a part of these kinds of wins. It was a great team win.”
Cooper agrees that the season comes down to one huge challenge.
“I can’t wait to get to work,” said Cooper. “I think we’ll be ready and
it should be a great game.”
It’s a short, holiday week for the Pirates. East Carolina will practice
on Monday, which is the team’s traditional off day. The squad will
travel on Thanksgiving Day and then play the next day with a noon
kickoff at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Friday is the traditional “Black Friday” for shoppers. With East
Carolina's success this year in its black gear, here’s hoping it’s a
different kind of “Black Friday” for the Pirates with a win over
Marshall and the host’s role in the league title game.