(8) West Virginia (1-0) at East Carolina (1-0)|
Saturday, September 6th, 4:30 p.m. (et)
From The Sports Network
By Ralph Lauro, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The East Carolina Pirates will try to knock off a Top 25 opponent
for the third straight time, as they entertain the eighth-ranked West Virginia
Mountaineers at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium this weekend.
In arguably the biggest upset of the opening week, ECU used a late punt block
to knock off ACC favorite and 17th-ranked Virginia Tech, 27-22, last weekend.
It was the second straight win against a ranked opponent by the Pirates, who
closed out last season by upending No.22 Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl. ECU
has now won five of 12 games against BCS opponents under head coach Skip
Holtz, and he was certainly proud of his team's effort in the season-opener
"What a great win," said Holtz. "I'm so proud of these players. I can not say
how proud I am of them. The way they competed, the way they hung in their. The
way that they tried, they never gave up."
Holtz will hope for the same kind of performance this weekend, although the
task is a little tougher. The Mountaineers storm into the game fresh off a
convincing 48-21 season-opening victory over Football Championship Subdivision
member, Villanova. It was the fifth straight season opening win by WVU, as
head coach Bill Stewart had a successful home debut. Stewart took over for
Rich Rodriguez prior to the Fiesta Bowl last season and led the Mountaineers
to a 20-point triumph over Oklahoma, but last weekend's opener was his first
appearance since being given the head coaching job on a full-time basis.
WVU has owned ECU over the years, holding a 17-2 advantage in the head-to-head
series. As a matter of fact, the Mountaineers have won the past seven
meetings against the Pirates, including a 48-7 trouncing in Morgantown last
Behind the arm and legs of quarterback Pat White, the Mountaineers were able
to score at will against Villanova last weekend. The senior gunslinger that
has been a dynamic dual-threat all his career, but more known for his running
ability, showed everyone he can be an effective passer, throwing for 208
yards and a career-high five touchdowns in the win. He also paced the ground
attack with 63 yards and earned the praise of coach Stewart with his effort.
"Pat White was on target - bulls eyes all day. He could have been 31-of-33
with no picks."
White finished the game 25-of-33 with one pick and his main target was Jock
Sanders, who logged eight catches for 62 yards and two scores. Alric Arnett
added four receptions for 70 yards and a pair of scores, while tailback Noel
Devine chipped in with six receptions for 37 yards. Devine also toted nine
times for 47 yards, but expect those numbers to increase significantly in a
more important game this weekend.
Defensively, WVU surrendered a few too many yards, but it certainly made up
for that by forcing three turnovers and recording seven sacks. The
Mountaineers, who allowed 133 rushing and 266 passing yards, spent nearly 37
minutes of the game on the field and that had coach Stewart concerned.
"I was a little concerned the defense was on the field a lot," Stewart said.
"Defensively, we came out a little better in the second half and we stopped
them from big plays. We played a lot of people today, and we wanted to do some
things with a lot of people."
Mortty Ivy put forth an all-around effort in the win, recording five tackles
to go along with a sack, fumble recovery and a 29-yard interception return for
a touchdown. "Boogie" Allen paced the defense with nine tackles and he also
had a sack.
Facing what is usually one of the top defenses in the nation, ECU did a rather
good job of gaining 369 total yards in its upset of VT this past weekend. The
Pirates used a balanced attack of 158 rushing yards and 168 passing to
overcome a pair of costly turnovers for the win.
Quarterback Patrick Pinkney won the starting job in the offseason and he
showed his potential in the opener, completing an efficient 19-of-23 pass
attempts for 211 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 24 yards and a
score and his success was not a big surprise to coach Holtz.
"I said he was having a great camp, we gave him some time to sit back there.
He's been throwing the ball accurately, he's elusive, he's been doing some
great things to lead this team offensively."
Davon Drew was on the receiving end of five passes that led to 65 yards, while
Dwayne Harris snared four balls for 68 yards. Brandon Simmons paced the ground
game with 54 yards on 17 carries, as the bruising back helped ECU hang onto
the ball for over 33 minutes.
The defense was outstanding for ECU last weekend, but the special teams made
the biggest play of the game. With under two minutes to go, the Pirates' T.J.
Lee not only blocked a punt, but he also returned it 27 yards for the game-
winning touchdown. VT got the ball one more time, but failed to even convert a
single first down against the stout defense of the Pirates.
Overall, ECU limited Tech to only 243 yards and 12 first downs, while
recording a pair of turnovers and sacks. Pierre Bell led the charge with 11
stops, while Quentin Cotton logged five tackles and an interception.
The Pirates are coming off a huge win and they will need to carry that
momentum over into this weekend. WVU is a much more potent team than Virginia
Tech, so don't expect ECU to be so effective this time around. The Pirates
should hang around for a little while in this one, but the Mountaineers are
the faster and more electrifying team and that will make the difference in the
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 34, East Carolina 20
09/03 12:11:18 ET