With the second highest attendance in program history, East Carolina and NC State were fighting for bragging rights, with both partaking in a defensive battle in the game’s final minutes.
ECU’s 33-30 victory over NC State marked the Pirates’ third consecutive victory over the Wolfpack and sixth straight win against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.
Both ECU (2-0) and NC State (1-1) played in blowout games the week prior to Saturday’s matchup. In both games the defenses didn’t have as much on their plates against the smaller schools.
The offenses’ success made it easier on the defense. ECU’s linebacker Dayon Pratt said that it was easy to hold Western Carolina to just seven points, because the offense provided a comfortable lead to work with.
Saturday’s game was not so easy, however. It was a fast paced game going back and forth and it came down to the final seconds, resulting in ECU’s defense closing the door on a Wolfpack comeback.
“Defensively, when we had our backs against the wall, we made some plays,” ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery said.
There were several missed opportunities on both sides and both teams combined to miss three field goals, two of which were from NC State. The Wolfpack also attempted a fake field goal and a two-point conversion, both of which were unsuccessful.
“That fake field goal, you know, we worked on it,” said Montgomery. “We worked really hard on it defensively, and man we were gap sound and we played really really good football there.”
Outside of the first quarter, there was never more than a single-score difference between the two teams. ECU suffered an early setback in personnel when defensive back Bobby Fulp was ejected after a targeting penalty and Pratt left the game for some time due to an undisclosed injury.
“Our depth is good,” said defensive back Corey Seargent. “No matter if anyone comes out, we know we’re confident in the next person that comes in to finish the job.”
The defenses fought hard, and kept the scoring to a minimum. After the teams went back and forth scoring, the fourth quarter became a true battle. With 5:49 left in the game, ECU took the lead, 33-30. From that point forward the game was decided by both defenses as they fought to give their offenses a chance to score.
With the game on the line, the defenses buckled down and forced back-to-back punts, not allowing either offense to get into any rhythm. It came down to 51 seconds left in the game, with the Wolfpack on its own 38-yard-line.
NC State quickly completed a 14-yard pass to get into ECU territory. With the Wolfpack threatening, the Pirates defense tightened up and caused two important incomplete passes before time expired.
“Everything is looking pretty good,” said offensive specialist James Summers. “We made a couple mental mistakes, couple physical mistakes, but we can clean all that up and we’ll be ready for South Carolina.”