second-half debacle versus Tulsa just a week ago, the Pirates came out
on Saturday and got their season back on track. With nothing to
play for, East Carolina decided to play for pride. With two games
remaining in the season and a 3-6 record, the Pirates had no chance for
a bowl game, and no chance for a winning season, yet they still managed
to play with heart and desire.
Marshall, on the other hand, at 4-5 was playing for both a winning
season and a chance for a bowl berth. If that wasn’t enough, it
was a home game, senior day, and the 35th anniversary of the 1970
team’s plane crash. It seemed as though Marshall had more than
enough to play for. For whatever reason, the Thundering Herd
couldn’t combine playmaking with all that emotion. When it comes down
to it, emotion will only take you so far in sports.
The game started off just where ECU left off the week before.
Marshall took the opening drive 80 yards for a score, with hardly any
resistance from the Pirates. Shortly thereafter, James Pinkney
threw an interception, which would have resulted in a touchdown if not
for the unbelievable effort by Guy Whimper. Guy chased down the
defensive back and tackled him at the two-yard line. That play
ended up being the turning point of the first half, maybe of the
game. Marshall managed a second turnover in the first half, but
only came away with 13 points.
The story of the game was the rushing attack of the Pirates.
ECU’s ground game comprised of the three-headed monster (Johnson,
Lindsay, Fractious) was brilliant. They accumulated 250 yards on
the ground, led by Chris Johnson’s 106 yards and three
touchdowns. The passing game was effective as well, led by Kevin
Roach’s four receptions for 61 yards. Pinkney threw to seven different
receivers during the course of the game.
This season has been one of ups and downs, but the one constant has
been the fight in the Pirates. When things got tough, and they
got behind in games, ECU always found a way to keep fighting and get
back in it. The Tulsa game was disappointing and embarrassing,
two adjectives rarely used for this year's team. I was glad to
see them put that game behind them and get back on track.