ON PIRATE SPORTS
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
By Brian Bailey
Resurrected program getting
its just rewards
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It’s been a long time since
I’ve seen this kind of look in an East Carolina football player’s eyes.
It started on Saturday night
with Pirate quarterback James Pinkney. For Pinkney, it was the culmination
of a roller-coaster ride of a career that will now conclude with a post
season bowl game.
Pinkney had come a long way
from losing his eligibility and bussing tables at Logan’s Roadhouse.
“We needed this game,” Pinkney
shouted. “This was a big game for us because of the rivalry. It was big for
all of North Carolina. This was a great atmosphere, I love it!”
The big play in Saturday
night’s 21-16 East Carolina win over N.C. State came just before the half,
when Pinkney hooked up with Aundrae Allison on that 53-yard lightning strike
that turned all of the momentum the Pirates' way.
“This was a great feeling,”
Allison said. “I think we owe a lot to the Pirate Nation. It’s just great to
come in here and finish this season off with a victory.”
One of the other heroes on
Saturday night was Brandon Fractious. Fractious found himself in Skip
Holtz’s doghouse in the second half of the Rice game. But Fractious helped
ECU control the football in the fourth quarter against State. It was also
Fractious that scored the clinching touchdown on a 12-yard run.
“It was all on the line,” said
Fractious. “The team, the unity, believing in each other and never giving
up; we were just able to pull it through."
Any mention of East Carolina’s
win over N.C. State, though, has to include stellar comments for the
The Wolfpack featured great
backs in the likes of Toney Baker and Andre Brown. East Carolina would have
dearly loved to have had either one of these two when they were recruited
three years ago, especially Brown, the former star at J.H. Rose High School.
Greg Hudson’s defense put the
clamps on the two former North Carolina prep stars, holding State to just
107 yards rushing.
The Pirates gave up an early
touchdown after a botched fake punt attempt near mid-field. State didn’t
score another touchdown until the final seconds.
“This was a great win for us,”
said Marcus Hands, who had three tackles in the game. “The defense played
great, but the offense did, too. We had great support here and we came
together for a big win.”
With the win, the Pirates get
set for the team’s first postseason bowl game since the 2001 season.
Conference USA will officially
announce the league’s bowl selections later this week. The word from East
Carolina is that the Pirates will likely head to Birmingham for the
PapaJohns.com Bowl on Dec. 23. That
game is a 1 p.m. ET (ESPN2) kickoff and would pit ECU against a team from
the Big East Conference.
This would present a great
scenario for the Pirate Nation. A great showing from the fans and a big win
might just go a long way in showing the Big East that East Carolina would be
an asset to the league.
The Big East will not expand
just for the sake of adding a team to ease scheduling. The league would,
however, possibly take a football program that might help to strengthen its
own ties to the BCS.
Credit Skip Holtz and his
staff for moving East Carolina back to respectability in college football.
Holtz is far from through and hopes winning seasons become the norm for the
Think about it. The Pirates
finished 7-5 against a schedule that included 8 bowl teams from the year
before, and seven bowl winners. Think back to the UAB game. That could have
easily been at 8th win. How about Rice? This Pirate team was just a couple
of plays from going 9-3 against a top notch schedule.
It should be a great holiday
season. It’s always fun to prepare for the holidays around a bowl game.
Unpacking my Christmas
ornaments this weekend, I once again ran across my “peach ornament” that I
got from the football team back in 1991, in honor of the Peach Bowl that
I wonder if I’ll get a Papa
John’s pizza to put on the tree this year.
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