It took about seven minutes to spell the end of the Pirates’ bowl hopes Saturday in Dowdy-Ficklen stadium against Southern Methodist.

“Its frustrating, but that’s why we’re here, the difficult jobs are exactly why I’m here,” said head coach Scottie Montgomery.

There was a back-and-forth pace all game and with 6:05 remaining in the first half, the Pirates were using their next drive to try and tie the game after the Mustangs took a 24-17 lead on a 12-play, 86-yard drive.

The drive was different, and would change the tone of the game for good. After a series of Quay Johnson screen passes, it was inevitable for an SMU corner to finally sniff out the next Philip Nelson pass. Horace Richardson did just that. In what could have been the quietest play in Dowdy-Ficklen all season, the SMU corner robbed a screen pass and took it to the crib for a 70-yard touchdown. It would be the first of two pick-sixs on the day for Richardson, the other one for 80 yards. From that point on, the ECU offense was responsible for three turnovers and a quarterback change before the half would end.

Just when you thought the stadium couldn’t get more silent, a James Summers’ fumble the very next play sucked the life out of the crowd. After relieving Nelson with a little over a minute remaining Gardner Minshew would take the Pirates down field and score a touchdown, finding Zay Jones right before half.

“My mindset won’t change, and I’m trying to get the younger and other guys on the team to think the same way,” said Jones.

In the brief, but eternal-feeling seven-minute window that put ECU behind three possessions, fans saw what looked like an on-field metaphor for the season. A great start, made ugly by the bitter middle and finishing with a numb ending, the game was none-the-less hurtful to watch. Tough as it was to watch, it’s even tougher to endure on the sidelines. Working daily since last winter to come up short handed at an early point in their season, the player’s next two games will possibly be their toughest yet.

A lot of experienced coaches have learned how to handle losing seasons, but new head coach Scottie Montgomery and staff haven’t been tasked with that yet in their new position and now will be called on to find something to motivate the underclassmen to keep their mind on the field.

“We just got to play for the seniors, some guys that’s trying to go to the next level,” said Jordan Williams.

A do-it-for-the-seniors salute, or a post-season spoiler attitude would be a good start. However for now, the Pirates will take to next week’s game at home against Navy as if it were any other week.

 “I feel like I got two more games left, I feel like I’m going to win those two games,” said Summers. “And I hope these guys feel the same way, we’re trying to set the tone for next year for those guys, because they’ve been out here too. It’s our duty to give back, as much as they give us, we’re going to go out there and play for us, but we’re going to play for them too and these coaches.”

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