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ISSUE NO. 3

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ALL-IN Blazer backup quarterback Jonathan Perry gained two yards before running into a wall of purple on a quarterback keeper in the third quarter. Perry would replace UAB starting quarterback Bryan Ellis later in the third quarter after Ellis sustained a concussion. photo by jay clark

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game 3 - ECU vs. UAB - 2011


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Fired up ECU feature twirler Courtney Stearn brought her own blaze to the halftime show. The Marching Pirates’ performance also featured returning alumni members. photo by jay clark

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game 3 - ECU vs. UAB - 2011


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RB #28 reggie bullock purple! OFfensive player of the game The 2010 National Junior College Athletics Association’s (NJCAA) leading rusher may have had his breakout game for the Pirates against UAB. Bullock carried the ball 24 times for 169 yards on the day. The junior transfer’s rushing total marked the first time a Pirate broke 150 yards on the ground since Dominique Lindsay accomplished the feat against Arkansas in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on January 2, 2010. “I never put my head down and I knew it was possible with the great line we have,” says Bullock. “They fought hard for me today and I appreciate it, my hat’s off to the line.”

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game 3 - ECU vs. UAB - 2011


football

flame out

despite turnovers, ECU extinguishes blazers, 28–23

photo by jay clark

STORY BY STEPHEN McNULTY

After having a week off, the Pirates (1–2, 1–0 C-USA) played host to the UAB Blazers (0–3, 0–2 C-USA). ECU came into the game favored by more than two touchdowns, but that was not the case for the Pirates. In a contest that saw 10 turnovers, including a recordtying seven by the Pirates, little went as expected. Things got interesting just two plays into the game when Dominique Davis passed up on an open Lance Lewis across the middle with an attempt to squeeze the ball to Michael Bowman down the sidelines. Davis’ pass came up short and was intercepted by the Blazers’ Chase Daniel. The ECU defense came out ready to play and forced UAB to punt, hitting the reset button for the Pirate offense. The Pirates quickly found the day’s hot hand in Reggie Bullock. On the teams second drive the junior college transfer busted out runs of 14 and 16 yards, moving the Pirates into UAB territory. On the ninth play of the drive, Davis rolled out to his right and found an open Justin Hardy who lunged into the end zone to give the Pirates the 7–0 lead. The Blazers responded quickly by completing five of six passes on a 10-play 65-yard drive that resulted in a Jacki Williams 15-yard run to even the score at 7–7. For the Blazers it was their first offensive touchdown of the season. The Pirates’ possession issues continued to get the best of them on their next drive. After catching a short pass east carolina university

on third down, Danny Webster fought for extra yardage before losing the football. Greg Irvin recovered for UAB, and after an official review the call was confirmed. UAB would open the second quarter by punting the ball back to the Pirates. Starting on their own 20-yard line the Pirates quickly found a way to get the ball into Bullocks hands with a run, followed by a short pass. But the football ended up rolling around on the turf again after Michael Bowman coughed it up. Already in Pirate territory, UAB quickly moved into the red zone. But Bryan Ellis’ toss into the end zone hung in the air long enough for Pirate safety Damon Magazu to get under it for his third-career interception, all of which have come in the end zone. After once again being bailed out by the Pirate defense, ECU looked to regroup. But just three plays into their next drive and, you guessed it, another ECU fumble. This time receiver Joe Womack lost possession of the ball as he fought for more yards. As if the football were a hot potato, it took UAB just three plays of their own to hand the ball back over to the Pirates. This time Derrel Johnson broke through the Blazers’ line and sacked Ellis, forcing the loose ball. Matt Milner was there for the Pirates for his third-career fumble recovery. After again taking over possession with good field position the Pirates continued to utilize Bullock. Seven PURPLE! 7


jump ball Defensive back #8 Jacobi Jenkins breaks up a pass to UAB’s Nick Adams in the third quarter.

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game 3 - ECU vs. UAB - 2011


football ILB #53 jeremy Grove purple! DEfensive player of the game

photo by jay clark (2)

Despite a pair of turnovers from Damon Magazu, freshmen linebacker Jeremy Grove takes home the Defensive Player of the Game award. Grove finished the day with 15 tackles after entering the game as the nations only freshmen in the top 50 tacklers. Grove’s 15 tackles were the most by a Pirate since 2009 and he became the first Pirate since 2005 to record 10 or more tackles in the first three games of a season. “Not only does he have my respect,” says coach Ruffin McNeil about Grove. “But more importantly he has the respect of his teammates.”

plays into the drive Bullock beat the Blazer defense for a 26-yard run before being dragged down from behind on the one-yard line. On the following play Davis would find Lewis on a jump ball, 14–7 Pirates. The Blazers would again respond well to the Pirates scoring drive. UAB drove the ball down inside the red zone before settling for a field goal with just 34-seconds left in the half. ECU would be forced to let the clock run out, going into the half up 14–10. The Pirates were unable to rush for positive yards against Virginia Tech, but in Saturday’s game, ECU went into the half with 89 yards already accumulated. “The line did a great job opening holes and playing with passion,” says Bullock. “It feels great. I knew it was possible with the line we have.” Just when Pirate fans thought things couldn’t get any worse Davis sent a screen pass off Bowman’s hands and into the air. In one motion Jamie Bender picked the ball off and returned it 35-yards to give the Blazers a stunning 17–14 lead. The Pirates once again showed their resilience as ECU used three straight completions and three runs that culminated in a touchdown for Bullock, putting the Pirates back in front at 21–17. With time winding down in the third quarter, the Pirates seemed to take control of the game. ECU looked east carolina university

to be in a groove offensively with nice plays from Michael Dobson, Andrew Bodenheimer, and Bullock. The 6-play 80-yard drive finished with slant to Lewis, putting the Pirates in control with a score of 28–17. Then, another possession and turnover, but on this one Terry Williams knocked the ball loose and Magazu scooped it up for his second steal of the game. The Pirates seemed to maintain control after they took possession with a doubledigit lead going into the fourth quarter. The fumble came one play after Ellis took a crushing hit from a blitzing Derek Blacknall. The senior quarterback suffered a concussion and was kept overnight at the hospital before returning to Alabama on Sunday. ECU opened the final quarter of play by marching down the field and inside the Blazers’ 10-yard line. Dobson appeared to stretch out and score from five yards away, but replay showed the ball was jarred loose before breaking the plane, and Irvin struck gold again for his unbelievable fourth fumble recovery of the game. Failing to fade, the Blazers took possession on the Pirates 20-yard line and began moving down the field. With Ellis out of the game UAB looked to sophomore Jonathan Perry to get within striking distance. After picking up a first down, Perry found Patrick Hearn deep for a 51-yard pass to get the ball inside the red zone. Pat Shed took the ball in for the Blazers, but PURPLE! 9


UAB failed on the two-point conversion leaving the deficit at five, 28–23. After it appeared the Pirates had a strong grip on the game, ECU was once again in a second-half tailspin. The Pirates responded to UAB’s scoring drive by marching right back down the field and into Blazer territory; however, Davis had another lapse in judgment as he practically handed the ball back to UAB by throwing an interception at the nine-yard line. “Our offense has not been stopped by any team we’ve played,” says head coach Ruffin McNeil. “We’ve stopped ourselves offensively and I told them that.” Despite the more-talented Pirates besting UAB in nearly 10 PURPLE!

every statistical category, the Blazers found themselves with a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. UAB drove down inside Pirate territory, drawing the clock under three minutes. On fourth and eight from the Pirate 18-yard line, Perry lofted the ball up to Shed along the sideline in the end zone. Shed appeared to make a spectacular catch and somehow got a foot in bounds, but when he hit the ground the ball jarred loose and fell incomplete, turning the ball over, and ending the game. “A win is a win however we get it,” says Davis. “I am satisfied to come out with the W.” For those of you who lost count, the Pirates finished game 3 - ECU vs. UAB - 2011


greased pig Defensive end #56 Derrel Johnson knocks the ball loose tackling UAB quarterback Bryan Ellis. The ball was recovered by Pirate defensive end Matt Milner. Both teams had trouble holding onto the ball—out of ten turnovers, seven were fumbles.

u p ne x t:

UNC

photo by jay clark (2)

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with a team record of seven turnovers, four fumbles, and three interceptions. Davis passed the ball very well for the Pirates through most of the game, going 35–42 for 361 yards and three scores. Yet the standout quarterback once again fell victim to foolish interceptions. The brightest spot for the Pirates was Bullock’s 169 rushing yards on 24 carries. “I told them last week, ‘Just win,’” says McNeil. “If it’s pretty that’s fine, but I’ll take an ugly win just as quick as the next person, and I was glad to get the win.” east carolina university

After opening up conference play with the season’s first win, the Pirates will continue their campaign against the region’s powerhouses. ECU rarely gets the chance to let the sun go down in Greenville to square up under the lights for an electric show down. This year the University of North Carolina (3-1, 1-1 ACC) comes to town to take on the Pirates at 8:00 p.m. The Tar Heels opened their season with consecutive victories over James Madison, Rutgers, and Virginia before falling short against Georgia Tech. Running back Giovani Bernard has been key for the UNC offense. After tearing his ACL in the third practice of 2010, the redshirt freshman has been tough to take down in 2011. Bernard is averaging over seven yards per carry and has six scores on the season. Sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner has been very accurate thus far, completing 78 percent of his passes on the season, including going 22 of 23 in the season opener against JMU. Despite passing for seven touchdowns, Renner also has six interceptions on the season—something the Pirate defense must capitalize. When the Pirates traveled to Chapel Hill in 2010 they suffered a 42–17 loss to the Tar Heels. Much of the damage came on the ground as Shaun Draughn went for 137 yards and three scores and Johnny White tacked on 140 more yards. T. J. Yates was a consistent 18/26 with two touchdowns for UNC. Along with a new quarterback and running back, UNC will also have a new head coach on their sidelines. Everett Withers took the interim position in late July when Butch Davis was fired. Along with the rushing attack, the Tar Heels exposed ECU’s other demon in the Pirate’s loss: turnovers. Dominique Davis threw three interceptions in the game. If the Pirates hope to have any chance of grabbing a victory over a BCS school before the end of the season, they must play mistakefree football. Although ECU has been very disciplined in terms of penalties, the Pirates have coughed up the football entirely too many times this season. The Pirates must also put some type of lid on the running game. Both of ECU’s tough losses this year can be attributed to turnovers and the inability to stop the run.

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fan-cam

Tyler Turner, left, and Caleb Davis enjoy a brief moment in the sun during the ECU vs. UAB game on Saturday, Sept. 24. Storm clouds threatened showers for most of the game, but only a brief period of light rain occurred—not enough to hamper the Pirates, who defeated the Blazers 28–23. photo by michael litwin 12 PURPLE!

game 2 - ECU vs. virginia tech - 2011


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