Final Record: (5-7, 4-4 C-USA)
Game 12: Marshall in Huntington, WV
With everything on the line, it was fitting that once again, it was turnovers by the offense that did the Pirates in, leaving the team with back-to-back losing seasons and ending a 5-season bowl streak.
This time, it was 3 interceptions – two coming as the Pirates were approaching the red zone – and a fumble that did in the Pirates, who lead the nation in turnover margin – that is, in losing the football. The Pirates truly pulled defeat from the jaws of victory in this one as the Thundering Herd damn near begged us to put them away on several occasions.
It was a fitting end to a baffling season.
Game 11: UCF in Greenville, NC
If ever the Pirates needed to step up, it was against the Central Florida Knights. The arrogant, Florida step-child who wonders why everyone hates them, were relentless in their jaw-jacking last season and during the off-season. Their gloating about inclusion in the decaying Big East. The Pirates tried to give them the game, but the young guns on offense and defense would not be denied.
The defense rose when it needed to and Dominique Davis and the patchwork offensive line were able to let the likes of Reese Wiggins, Torrance Hunt, Justin Hardy and the new fan favorite Zico Pasut have a day to remember as the Seniors said good-bye to DFS.
With the offense showing some shades of its former self, the Pirates next head to Marshall with a ton on the line, specifically a Bowl Bid and a shot at a winning season.
Game 10: UTEP in El Paso, TX
Lackluster. Uninspired. Sad. What again, for the second-straight week should have been a no holds barred, relentless assault on a winning season turned out to be a mistake-filled, oh-by-the-way game for the Pirates. The offense turned in another pitiful effort, another Pick-6 defining moment and another loss to a young, not-so-good UTEP team.
The offense sputtered for a paultry 254 yards of total offense and despite itself, led 17-16 half-way through the fourth quarter. And with victory near, the defense which had played pretty darn well through three and a half quarters finally succumbed to exhaustion, probably, since the offense couldn’t seem to rise to the occasion and allowed a 77 yard run for the game-winner. Now, they must play UCF who gave Southern Miss all they could handle in a loss. Hopefully the fans will show up…because it is not a safe bet that the team will.
Game 9: Southern Mississippi in Greenville, NC
With everything on the line. With another sold out home crowd. With a quick 7-0 lead. ECU imploded once again – a trend that is all too familiar and all too common to ignore.
With just 3 offensive plays, the visiting Golden Eagles (8-1; 4-1) rolled out to a 21-7 lead in the first quarter thanks to two special teams blunders and failure on a fundamental play. With the Pirates poised to deliver a decisive blow on only its second possession of the game, a pass delivered right on the numbers bounced off an ECU receiver and was picked off and taken 97 yards the other way to level the score – a 14-point instant back breaker. What followed is just too bizarre to even describe fairly.
A back-up punter line drives a kick to the USM return team and absolutely on one on the ECU punt coverage team appeared to be on the left side of the entire football field. Easy TD for USM. Next possession? Blocked punt returned for a TD. Throw in another pick-6 from a mile away and the Pirates gave away 28 points and the game.
What should not be lost in this is that USM is a very good team and may have beaten ECU straight away, but we will never know as the home team appeared ill-prepared on Special Teams and in the receiving corps. The offensive line played with little urgency. Where the USM players seemed like they were out for blood, our team looked as if this game had no meaning.
The net result: USM now is positioned perfectly to win the East and make an appearance in the C-USA title game while the Pirates will play for another 2nd place finish and hopefully a bowl game somewhere.
Game 8: Tulane in Greenville, NC
The Pirates seemingly, once again, put largely four full quarters together and the result was a margin that is more in line with what the Pirates should do when they play a team of Tulane’s ilk. The Green Wave simply was not a very good team and that ECU beat them like they should – soundly and going away – speaks volumes to where they are heading in regards to consistent production. Young receivers, beat up young OL and gimpy running backs aside, the offense got it done and the defense, particularly in the 2nd half was good.
Dominique Davis asserted his will both in the passing and running phases of the offense and behind him, the team’s collective confidence rose. Now, at 3-1 in the league, the Pirates have a ton to play for, starting with sole possession of 1st place in the East this Saturday when the 7-1 Golden Eagles roll into town.
Game 7: Navy at Annapolis, MD
Aside from giving up a long kickoff return for a touchdown and two missed Michael Barbour field goal tries, the Pirates actually put together four decent quarters of football and were rewarded for it with a very good win for the program.
Yes, Navy is 2-5, but they are 2-5 by the matter of 8 points. ECU fans can well remember what it is like to lose close games, having seen what the 1983 team could have been save a dozen or so points, so we should all note this as a win against a very good football team. Dominique Davis set two NCAA records which is great for a very humble young man, but more importantly, he seems to be in a groove, which is exactly what the doctor ordered for a Pirates team that is in serious contention for the East Division of C-USA.
Game 6: Memphis at Memphis
The Pirates got a much, much needed win to , hopefully, slow down the bleeding a bit. It came at the expense of the hapless Memphis Tigers (1-6), but a win sometimes is all it takes for a team with talent but fragile confidence.
The bad, to start, was that the Pirates once again turned over the football once and this time, it was for a Memphis TD. Moreover, the Pirates failed to put Memphis away until the second half and actually trailed at the intermission. To be blunt…Memphis is horrible and yet we struggled somewhat in this game.
The good: We got the win. This is big. And, our offensive flow – after the half – was much more akin to what we saw last season. Perhaps this game untracks the offense some. The team is very much alive – statistically – to win the East, so there is much in the balance for this program.
Game 5: Houston in Houston
When the Pirates needed to put together a great game the most, they took a major step back. The Houston offense was as good as advertised and did its part, scoring at will on the Pirates improved, but not as improved as hoped defense. The Houston defense, surprisingly, got pressure on the Pirates in a big way, forcing 4 turnovers.
Four turnovers, that’s right. Another turnover fest this week and this time, all of them by way of the interception. Dominique Davis had a poor outing – his second this season – and the Pirates really look to be at a crossroads for this season in regards to whether or not they fold up the tent or find some guts and finish strong. There is still much to play for, but whatever wiggle room the Pirates had going into this game, they no longer have it and must win out in CUSA.
Game 4: North Carolina in Greenville
The Pirates shot themselves in the foot again, this time to the tune of 4 tunovers, two of which North Carolina converted into 14 points, one point off of the final margin. The Pirates offense, which did the team in again, showed – when they were not giving the ball away – that they are virtually unstoppable. Dominique Davis threw for 417 yards and 2 TDs, Lance Lewis had a 166 yards on 10 receptions with a TD and the defense played pretty well despite the score, indicating that the Pirates should fare well in the conference.
In fairness, UNC-CH has a good team and their defensive front was everything advertised. More impressive was their offensive line – which is more than legit. The better team probably won the game, but the score was nowhere indicative of how evenly matched the two teams were.
Game 3: UAB in Greenville
Above all, the Pirates got two big things when they got past the Blazers at Dowdy Ficklen: 1) The got their first W of the season; 2) they started C-USA play at 1-0. That ECU prevailed was an accomplishment in itself given the Pirates turned the ball over 7 times – that right, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. And yes, that is an all-time dubious school record for turnovers in a game.
Though the defense eventually gave up more than 400 yards of offense, they did hold the Blazers to 16 points despite the turnovers (one of UAB’s TDs was a pick 6). Getting the win should do wonders for the Pirates as they head into a crucial OOC game with intra-state rival, UNC-CH.
Game 2: #13 Virginia Tech in Greenville
If nothing else, the defense made a statement, limited the Hokies on offense. However, the offense didn’t show up. Mostly, it was a case of the Pirates receivers dropping passes. A few catches here or there and it might have gone the other way.
Dominique Davis had his worst outing as a Pirate, limited to under 125 yards in the air, but the was a great sigh of relief as the Pirates D has established itself as capable. The offense is showing some real weaknesses but hopefully it is a case of needed to gel. And, special teams, which really hurt the Pirates in the loss to USC, showed remarkable improvement.
Game 1: #12 South Carolina in Charlotte
The Pirates had their chances. leading at half-time following four USC turnovers. Unfortunately for ECU, they returned the favor in the second half turning the ball over on four straight possessions and watching the Gamecocks convert all four into 28 points and the lead. The Gamecocks never looked back.
Still, ECU’s defense bottled up Heisman Trophy Candidate RB Marcus Lattimore and the offense produced against a much-vaunted defensive front for USC. Dominique Davis passed for 4 TDs in his 2011 debut.