ON PIRATE SPORTS
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
By Brian Bailey
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SKIP HOLTZ PRESS CONFERENCE:
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The official took off his
headset and started back onto the field. It was like a close heavyweight
fight. The official was going to name a winner, and in turn name a loser.
a thrilling ending, East Carolina had
tied Southern Miss on a fourth down run by quarterback James Pinkney. In
overtime, the Pirates ran right down the Golden Eagles throats, only to be
stopped just short of the goal line, facing fourth down. ECU Carolina kicked
a field goal to go up by three.
Southern Miss decided to go
for the win on the first play. Golden Eagles quarterback Jeremy Young went
deep to his big tight end, Shawn Nelson. The ball seemed to float in the air
forever. Travis Williams went up for the interception. Nelson did all he
could do to get some type of possession of the football. Both players came
down with what they hoped was a victory.
The referees ruled it an
interception on the field, and the Pirates' celebration began. But in this
day and age of instant replay, the game wasn’t over yet.
I’ve seen many games decided
by a replay in some form, but never really like this. Though some have said
that the play could have been ruled an incompletion, from my vantage point
it was either a win for East Carolina on the interception, or a win for
Southern Miss on a catch — a simultaneous reception.
Based on my knowledge of the
ECU-Southern Miss series, I was a bit skeptical as the officials took longer
and longer to review the tape.
I remember being on the
sideline when Southern Miss stole one from East Carolina in 1986. A blind
man could have seen the Golden Eagle player with his knee on the ground when
he made that infamous forward lateral.
That was the year that Charlie
Libretto had rallied ECU, only to see the Golden Eagles complete a Hail
Mary, execute an illegal forward pitch by a guy who’s knee was on the
ground, and then win the game on a field goal on an untimed down. Southern
Miss actually benefited from committing a foul.
Those of you that were there
know the story. That play should have been much easier to call then the
Travis Williams interception.
So with history against the
Pirates, and with the officials taking forever, please forgive the
“I sat there and had a great
view of it,” said Pirate coach Skip Holtz at his weekly news conference on
Monday. “I thought surely they won’t override the call. The longer we sat
there and the longer it took, I really began to wonder. Finally, though,
when he came back I couldn’t hear anything, but I saw everybody running on
the field and knew we had won.”
Holtz now has his club
in first place in the East Division of
Conference USA with four games to go.
Last year, Central Florida
went from worst to first. This year, the Golden Knights are the next
obstacle for a great Pirate turnaround in 2006.
“I couldn’t have written a
better script for this team,” Holtz continued. “We won on the road, we won
at Southern Miss, we played great on defense and we won a close football
game. These are all factors that will help this program down the road.”
Former East Carolina coach
Steve Logan used to preach that his team had to be ready to win on the last
play of the game. Some fans took exception to that, but it’s a philosophy
that Coach Holtz says has some merit.
“I think you have to prepare
your football team to win that way,” said Holtz. “You have to prepare your
team for a 60-minute war that could go right down to the wire.
"If it doesn’t, then that’s
great. I love those games when you can come in at halftime and eat hotdogs
and drink colas. Those are great games to be associated with. We’re just not
fortunate to have those games yet.
"I think every game we play
will be a dog fight and we had better be ready to play a 60-minute football
The Pirates go to Orlando as a
6-point favorite against the 2-6 Golden Knights. The much improved Pirate
defense will be tested by a UCF team that
rolled up 530 yards in a loss to Houston
this week. George O’Leary’s team will move the football. It will be another
stiff test for Greg Hudson and his defense.
The Pirates go for back to
back “golden” wins this week. First it was the overtime win over the Golden
Eagles. Next, it’s a match up with the Golden Knights.
The Pirates also have a little
“golden” in strength coach Mike Golden, whose work continues to pay
dividends with East Carolina's strong finishes.
In the spirit of Halloween,
Coach Golden’s middle name is Damien. Just thought I’d throw that out there…
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