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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports



From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Fans of distinction made heartbreak bearable


Pirate faithful show ultimate class at dark moment

Dowdy-Ficklen's 200th game was one to remember. The day saw big plays, key mistakes by one and all — including the officiating crew — and an unforgettable moment of spontaneity by the fans.

There was the shotgun snap that got by the South Florida quarterback and turned into an East Carolilna touchdown.

There was the phantom touchdown in the second overtime that hit the turf before finding the arms of the USF receiver.

There was the missed extra point, the kick that was partially blocked, then doinked off the side of the left upright.

Then, there was the standing ovation for the Pirate football team.

That standing “O” was truly something that I never expected. Yes, this Pirate football team had fought hard. Still, this team was 1-9 and had just lost when it couldn’t execute one of the game’s easier plays.

The extra point attempt seemed like it was in slow motion. The remaining Homecoming crowd stood in stunned silence as the football fell harmlessly out of the sky. It was like something out of a movie. Tears flowed from some of the players, and the fans probably didn’t quite know how to react.

Many of us had never seen anything like it. The Pirates had rallied from down 21-0 to send the game to overtime. There were so many momentum-swinging plays. There were so many questionable calls.

But in one fleeting second, the Pirates' chance for an upset win — and only the team’s second win of the season — went by the wayside.

Pirate fans could have booed. Good teams just don’t miss extra points.

But these fans understood that they had been a part of something special. They saw how Vonta Leach had taken this team on his shoulders, pounding out yard after yard with the game on the line.

Leach scored the touchdown for what should have sent the game to a third overtime. Sometimes life isn’t fair. Sometimes life gives us a bad call.

The phantom touchdown in overtime was everything that I don’t agree with in officiating. If you’re not sure, then it didn’t happen.

I was no more then six feet away from the ‘catch’ in the end zone. I not only saw the trap, I heard the football hit the turf. There is NO WAY that the play should have been ruled a touchdown!

One official admitted to the other that he didn’t get a good look. Instead of waving it off, the other official signaled touchdown.

Officials are taught at an early age that sometimes you have to “sell” a call, to make sure that, even if the call isn’t right, you as an official are sure of what you saw.

How many of you thought the official sold that call?

Still, the standing ovation that the Pirate fans gave the players after the game will go down as one of the classiest things I’ve ever been a part of with East Carolina University. The Pirate Nation should be proud.

Rare look at future

East Carolina will hold an intrasquad football scrimmage session as part of Thursday's practice schedule. The hour-long scrimmage will be held in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium beginning at 3:30 p.m. and is open to the public. Admission is free of charge.

The official release says that many of ECU's players who have seen limited or no action in the regular season's first 10 games will participate, including freshmen who are being red-shirted and athletes ineligible to play in official competition in 2003.

Florida transfer Patrick Dosh will play at the quarterback position, giving us all a chance to check in on his progress.

The Pirates are off this week, before closing out at Tulane and then at home against Southern Miss.

Mr. All-American

East Carolina junior outfielder Darryl Lawhorn has been named second-team preseason All-America by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America.

Lawhorn was named second-team All-Conference USA in 2003 after hitting .332 with 15 doubles, 14 home runs, 49 RBI and 49 runs scored. He also was named to the 2003 C-USA all-tournament team.

Lawhorn was named NCBWA first-team preseason All-America in 2003 after being named the 2002 C-USA Freshman of the Year and Co-National Freshman of the Year by Collegiate Baseball.

The Pirates open the 2004 season at home against UNC Asheville on Feb. 13.

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02/23/2007 01:26:43 AM

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