ON PIRATE SPORTS
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
By Brian Bailey
Hartman took shortcut
from dud to idol
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Never has a Pirate football
player gone from goat to hero in such a short time.
Ben Hartman had missed three
critical field goals against archrival North Carolina on Saturday night.
Still, he was able to find just enough room to squeeze in the game winner
and take over the role of hero on campus.
It takes Clark Kent longer to
don his red cape in the phone booth than it did for Hartman to shed the goat
horns and be carried off the field.
Hartman said afterwards that
he knew he was going to make that kick. I’m not quite sure how many of the
43,000 in attendance had those same thoughts!
I know they were hopeful.
Hartman did get it through and the celebration was on. For only the second
time in the program's history, East Carolina had a win over UNC-Chapel Hill.
“I’ve made that kick in
practice a million times,” said Harman after the game and just after jumping
down from his teammates' shoulders. “I knew I was going to make the kick.”
Holtz was obviously a tad
frustrated with his kicker during the game. He got on him about a couple of
his kickoffs, and he walked a fine line in discussing the missed field
“For Ben it is all mental,”
said Holtz at his weekly news conference on Monday. “He’s like many of us
golfers. You hook one left, and then you over compensate and push one right.
He even hit the upright once, so his mind was playing with him.”
“I really thought the extra
time-out helped us,” added Holtz. “It gave us a chance to try and settle him
down a little bit. I just told him to go out there and kick it like it was
his first kick of the game. Don’t start thinking about pushing or pulling,
just go kick that thing through the middle of the uprights. He did a great
An entire city and much of
Eastern North Carolina had a mood swing like none other in that fourth
Sure, there are plenty of Tar
Heel fans and alums in Greenville. However, this is Pirate country, and many
walked a little taller at church on Sunday and at work on Monday.
Now the trick is to try and
duplicate that atmosphere for Southern Miss this week. The Golden Eagles
have dominated the series with ECU, especially in Greenville.
A repeat performance may start
with the students. They were incredible on Saturday. Many were in the
stadium a good 90 minutes before kickoff. Someone on the sideline joked that
they must have snuck a keg in.
I thought it was a great
showing of support for that many students to be in their seats that early.
They deserve all of the credit in the world for being there for their team.
Now, that same group must get
the word out. As far as bowl games go, as far as conference championships
go, as far as league pride goes, this is a huge game for East Carolina. The
jerseys won’t be light blue, but the rivalry, for some, will be just as
“They are 14-2 here in
Greenville against ECU,” said Holtz. “I know a lot of Pirate fans have a bad
taste in their mouth about this game. Add in the fact that we won at the
Rock (Hattiesburg) last year, and I know this Southern Miss team will come
The Pirates are now 1-1 on the
season, but have really shown up and played outstanding games both times.
There are things to work on, like in the secondary and with the penalties.
Overall, though, this team has worked hard and has been well prepared for
this tough start to the schedule.
This game will go a long way
in determining the Conference USA East Division champion. Coach Holtz calls
Southern Miss the “Yankees” of their conference. The road to the C-USA title
usually includes Southern Miss in some form or fashion.
This past Saturday was what
big-time college football is all about. That’s what Holtz is preaching and
thus far this team believes.
The Pirates hope to take
another stop towards getting everybody else to believe this week with a win
over Southern Miss.
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