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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
By Brian Bailey

Roller coaster ending tough to stomach

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I’ve seen the replay dozens of times, and my heart still aches for Phillip Henry.

Sure, it’s just a game and maybe there are those of us who simply take the games too seriously.

Fate played a terrible trick on the Pirates on Saturday night. East Carolina was poised to pull one out of the fire, when James Pinkney connected with Henry over the UAB secondary.

Henry ran towards the goal line, hoping to score the game-winning touchdown. He was the hero to be, until the ball came free just inside the five-yard line.

Henry fumbled. UAB recovered. In a matter of seconds, the Pirates had gone from losers, to winners, to losers again.

“I saw the safety leaving the middle and heading over toward Aundrae Allison,” said ECU coach Skip Holtz on Monday. “I thought James made a phenomenal throw, over the head of the safety. Phillip Henry really made a nice catch. When Phillip turned to start running, I saw a couple of guys chasing him. My first thought was that he was inside the five, so what do we do to go ahead and punch it in the end zone.

"Then I thought he was going to get in, and then I saw the ball pop out.”

The play reminded many of us of the North Carolina game back in 2001, when Art Brown fumbled through the end zone after a long kick-off return. This one was perhaps even more devastating, because it directly cost the Pirates a victory.

Now, the psyche of this team has to be in question. Coach Holtz likes to say that last year’s team was three plays away from an eight-win season. But none of those three plays compares with the fumble at UAB.

“We lost a game at South Carolina against Georgia one time,” said Holtz. “We were going for the win on a two-point conversion. We pitched the ball, and our back had an easy walk into the end zone, but he dropped the ball, and we lost.”

The Pirates certainly didn’t play well enough to beat UAB on Saturday night, but they almost stole one anyway. That’s what it comes down to each season. Good teams find a way to win, regardless of how the team is playing.

The Pirates are still very much a work-in-progress, a team trying to learn how to win and how to have success. Saturday’s loss at UAB was certainly a bitter pill to swallow.

I think we’ll all look back to see how this team handles the loss over the next couple of weeks.

Pirates finally at home

The lights at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will be shining brightly on Saturday night, as East Carolina hosts Memphis in the home opener.

East Carolina is actually a one-point favorite for the 7 p.m. kickoff.

D’Angelo Williams is now a Panther, so that should help the Pirate cause somewhat. Memphis is 1-1 on the season.

Despite the 0-2 record, there seems to be a buzz around town for the first home game of the year.

“We’re very excited about coming home and playing in front of the Pirate Nation,” said Holtz. “We have a lot of guys who have never played in this stadium on game day, and I know that they are certainly looking forward to it this week.”

Holtz looks forward to the home game, but he warns that Memphis is another tough assignment on the Pirate schedule.

“Memphis is much more balanced then they were a year ago,” said Holtz. “Last year they were more of the ‘D’Angelo Williams Show’. They are similar to us in that they have experience at quarterback and with their receivers, but they are young up front. This will be another tremendous challenge for this football team.”

There’s nothing like a day of tailgating at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Look for the Pirates to turn the season around with a win over Memphis this week!

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04/21/2008 07:01:29 PM


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