BRIAN BAILEY'S TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
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By Brian Bailey
WNCT-TV 9 Sports Director

Brian Bailey

Bowl win would help neutralize bitter pill

Audio: Brian Bailey Show
The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. This week's guests were ECU assistant basketball coach Ken Potosnak and Rose High School football coach Dave Wojtecki: Replay show...
 
 

Bowl win would neutralize bitter pill

 
Audio: Steve Logan Show
The Steve Logan Show airs on FM 103.7 and FM 94.1 on Mondays from 6-8 p.m. Replay this week's show: Select clip...
 

C-USA Player of the Week

 

Seahawks resume series with win

 
Audio: Coach Lebo & Players
ECU basketball coach Jeff Lebo and players Paris Roberts-Campbell and Caleb White met with the press after the Pirates' loss to UNC-Wilmington: Select clip...
 

This week in college football history

 

Game Center: Marshall 59, ECU 28

 

Pirates stopped cold

 

Game Day Photo Gallery

 
Audio: Coach Ruff Post-game
ECU football coach Ruffin McNeill met with the press after the Pirates' loss to Marshall: Select clip...
 

Greg's Game Day Breakdown

 

Staff prepared to prepare

 

Kevin's Keys to the Game

 

ECU turns back charging Bulldogs

 

By Brian Bailey
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East Carolina will not bring home a conference championship or division title this year. The Pirates still have a bowl game in coming weeks, but the regular season ended in most disappointing fashion.

Marshall did anything and everything it wanted to in crushing the Pirates' Conference USA title aspirations, beating ECU in the regular season finale 59-28 on Friday to claim the East Division crown.

The Herd jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first half and then had another touchdown on a punt return nullified that would have pushed the lead to 31 points in the first half.

I know that coaches often speak in clichés. Pirate Coach Ruffin McNeill likes to say his team just needs to make the routine plays. That was never more evident than in the loss this past week.

Shane Carden and the high-powered offense never got on track until the second half. Carden was behind on several passes early and the offense never really got rolling until it was way too late.

“We usually do a great job of starting fast, and we came in and just weren’t clicking on those first couple of drives,” Carden told reporters after the game. “We couldn’t get anything going. We had to play from behind the whole game and we just had a lot of things not go our way….We’re a lot better than that and we know that.”

Coach Ruff agreed.

“We’ve had some tough starts but we’ve always battled back and played the next play,” said McNeill. “They did a good job and they had some momentum early, but I never thought we were out of it.”

The East Carolina defense also struggled with the season on the line. The Thundering Herd rolled up 539 yards of total offense.

Essray Taliaferro rushed for 161 yards against his father’s alma mater. The elder Taliaferro was a player when I first arrived in Greenville. He played under Art Baker at East Carolina.

The younger Taliaferro also ran for 130 yards in the 2012 game against 'Dad’s school.'

He told media afterwards that he was especially juiced for the Pirate game. He played like he was fired up both years, running for 291 yards in the two matchups.

While Marshall gets set for the Conference USA championship game at Rice, the Pirates take a little break awaiting word on a bowl destination.

Early speculation has the Pirates in either St. Petersburg, FL, for the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl or in Annapolis, MD, for the Military Bowl. The Beef O’Brady’s is Dec. 23, which is always problematic for those preparing for Christmas. The Military Bowl is Dec. 27.

It’s important to point out that there are other options if leagues start trading off slots because of matchups and commitments.

The regular season certainly didn’t end like the Pirate players, coaches or fans wanted. Still, with road wins over North Carolina and North Carolina State and a 9-3 record, the year had its positives.

Now the goal is to win a bowl game, something the Pirates haven’t done since beating Boise State in the 2007 Hawaii Bowl.

A bowl win would move East Carolina's win total to double digits with 10. The only other time a Pirate football team had double digit wins was 1991 when East Carolina beat N.C. State in the Peach Bowl and finished the season 11-1 with a Top Ten national ranking.

A bowl win wouldn’t rival 1991 but it would snap a current four-game losing streak in bowls.

It might also take that bitter taste out of the Pirates' mouths as the program looks forward to 2014 and the program's debut in the American Athletic Conference.

The way the regular season ended shouldn’t erase what this team has accomplished this year.

Now for one more win in the bowl game.

BB

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12/03/2013 03:49 AM
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