Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Coastal Rivers Realty

Saturday, August 30, 2008

By Nathan Summers

The Daily Reflector

CHARLOTTE - East Carolina put a hand in the face of another season-opening win by No. 17 Virginia Tech on Saturday.


After rallying furiously late in the second half at Bank of America Stadium and pulling to within two points of the Hokies, 22-20, ECU senior T.J. Lee blocked a Virginia Tech punt and strode 27 yards into the end zone with the ball to the thunderous reaction of the Pirate fans filling half the stadium.


The 27-22 win avenged last season's opener, a 17-7 victory by the Hokies in Blacksburg, Va.


"It was just a roller coaster going back and forth and up and down," ECU head coach Skip Holtz said. "I am just so proud of these players, the way they competed. The leadership was awesome."


Having trailed 14-0 in the second quarter, the Pirates pieced together their second consecutive win over a ranked opponent by scoring a couple of touchdowns in response, then trading scores with Tech in the fourth quarter before Lee won the game in thrilling fashion.


ECU ended last season by beating No. 22 Boise State at the Hawaii Bowl. With Saturday's triumph, the Pirates became the first Conference USA team to ever post consecutive wins over ranked opponents.


Even with the coming to life by starting quarterback Patrick Pinkney and the ECU offense, it was the Pirates' special teams that felled another top 25 team.


"I thought the snap was a little soft and the kick was a little slow," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said of the game's decisive play, which came with 1:52 left in the game. "The guy just broke through our protection. They did a nice job."


It wasn't an auspicious start for Lee or the Pirates.


The senior wide receiver had gotten a couple of big doses of Holtz anger after he was responsible for a handful of early mistakes. In fact, Holtz said he thought he owed Lee an apology afterward for Lee's valiant effort to stay in the game late, to first get a hand on the punt, then grab it and head for the end zone.


"He said punt block, so we went after it," Lee said of the winning sequence, referring specifically to Holtz's instructions to go after the ball on that play. "We got a good push, I saw a little opening, blocked it, scooped and scored."


Common football mistakes by the Pirates nearly gave rise to a common outcome. A couple of early fumbles and a handful of penalties gave Tech the first-half momentum. Then, after the Pirates counterpunched twice to claw back into the game, they shot themselves in the foot again.


ECU's second extra point attempt should have tied the game in the third quarter, 14-14. But it was blocked and returned the other way by former ECU recruit Stephan Virgil from Rocky Mount for a two-point play and a 16-13 lead for Tech.


The Hokies built on that lead quickly. VT quarterback Sean Glennon (139 pass yards, 0 TD) set up a touchdown when he connected with freshman receiver Dyrell Roberts for a 63-yard strike. The drive was capped by another freshman, as Darren Evans rammed into the end zone from three yards out to make it 22-13 Hokies in the fourth quarter.


But they were unable to sit on that lead.


Pinkney took his team on a 73-yard drive which ended with him barreling in from three yards out to make it 22-20.


Along the way, tight end Davon Drew was on the end of a team-high five catches for 65 yards, while receiver Dwayne Harris made four grabs for 68 yards. Both were parts of Pinkney's 221-yard outing and of the critical scoring drive that made it a game again.


"(Pinkney), I think, is exceptional," Beamer said. "That quarterback puts them at a different level."


Tech carried a 14-7 edge into the intermission after a scoreless first quarter quickly became a battle of turnovers in the second.


Consecutive ECU fumbles put the Hokies in control in a matter of minutes before the Pirates countered to halve the lead just before the break.


Pinkney zipped a lateral to Harris on the flank, and the receiver dropped the live ball to the turf. It was immediately swiped by Virgil in flight, and the junior cornerback took it 30 yards untouched into the end zone for a 7-0 Hokie lead.


As soon as Virginia Tech kicked the ball back to the Pirates, the gaffes continued. ECU linebacker Dalvon Mack knocked the ball to the turf, where he and a group of ECU players tried to pick the ball up instead of falling on it. Freshman Jacob Sykes arrived for the Hokies, drilled Mack and dove on the ball to set up the Hokie offense for its first scoring drive of the game.


Tech went six plays in ECU territory before Kenny Lewis Jr. rumbled six yards into the end zone for a 14-0 edge.


But the pendulum swung back toward ECU before the break, as linebacker Nick Johnson picked off Glennon at the Tech 20-yard line and returned it to the VT goal line. On third down, Jonathan Williams ran around the left edge for an ECU touchdown to make it 14-7.


"We kept making it so hard on ourselves," Holtz said.


Nathan Summers can be reached at

Starstate Realty
Starstate Realty - Austin, TX

Hi Ray  - Welcome to ActiveRain. I look forward to networking with you and reading your future post. Have a great day!!!

Dec 28, 2008 03:41 PM