Wilson shines on defense in annual Purple-Gold game; Former Pirates come back home

Published 8:42 pm Sunday, April 15, 2007

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — It was the difference between steak and lobster and beenie weenies.
Rob Kass’s 77-yard touchdown pass to Jamar Bryant proved to be the difference, lifting East Carolina to a 20-13 win over the Pirates in Saturday’s annual Purple-Gold Spring Game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The scrimmage wrapped up the spring session for the Pirates.
C.J. Wilson, a former standout at Northside High School, dominated from his defensive end position for the Pirates. The sophomore finished with seven tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and a pair of quarterback hurries.
While Wilson was able to tear it up, putting a hurting on opposing quarterbacks Taylor Mazzone and Kass, his team came out on the short end. Instead of surf and turf, dinner was a little more bland.
Wilson is hoping his showing may help land him a starting assignment in the fall.
Kass got East Carolina off to a hot start, hitting Phillip Henry with a 55-yard touchdown pass on the first series of the game.
Kass also threw the long TD strike to Bryant in the fourth quarter.
Kass said he’s comfortable with the system, and that will be key next season. He finished the day 10-of-21 for 231 yards to go with two touchdowns and an interception, splitting time between both teams.
Kass may have separated himself even more from starting quarterback-hopefuls Brett Clay and Patrick Pinkney.
While Holtz was proud of Kass’s performance, the quarterback himself said he can do better.
Ben Hartman’s 21-yard field goal, coming after a Van Eskridge fumble recovery, gave East Carolina a 10-0 lead.
Murphy Paderick got the Pirates on the board with a 35-yard field goal, which came after misses from 44 and 19 yards out. Paderick’s 22-yard chip shot on the final play of the first half pulled the Pirates within 10-6.
Hartman drilled a 44-yarder midway through the third quarter to extend East Carolina’s lead to 13-6.
Fullback Kevin Gidrey tied the game thanks to a 1-yard plunge with 24 seconds remaining in the third. The touchdown was set up by a 45-yard completion from Kass to Juwon Crowell.
The Pirates answered in the fourth on Bryant’s long touchdown reception from Kass. Bryant snagged four passes for 122 yards on the day. Alex Taylor hauled in five passes for 40 yards.
Patrick Pinkney was 8-of-24 for 67 yards and an interception. Clay went 10-for-21 for 96 yards.
Chris Johnson led the ground game, scampering for 93 yards on 20 carries. Norman Whitley added 41 yards on eight totes.
Jarrett Wiggins led the defensive with 12 tackles. Wendell Chavis added 10 takedowns.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Dekota Marshall finished with nine tackles and two pass breakups. Sophomore safety Chris Mattocks and sophomore linebacker Lorenzo Osborne had eight tackles apiece.
While Holtz was happy to wrap up spring ball, he said his team still has plenty left to work on leading up to the Sept. 1 season opener at Virginia Tech.
Current NFL stars get chance to mingle
By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Besides being a capper for the spring football season, the annual Purple-Gold Spring Game brings out former East Carolina Pirates to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Several former Pirates were on hand at Saturday’s spring game. While some played in the annual charity golf game, many others played in a basketball game Saturday night. Through it all, fellowship was enjoyed by all.
Four former Pirates now playing in the NFL were all on hand for the spring game.
Former Washington High School standout Terrance Copper, who recently signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, said he enjoys coming back each season.
Copper was home for the weekend. He’ll return to New Orleans this week for conditioning.
The New Orleans wide receiver, who had career-highs of 23 catches for 385 yards and three touchdowns, said the Saints should be strong once again this year. The team made it to the NFC Championship game last year.
The fourth-year pro is setting some lofty goals for next year.
Vonta Leach, a fullback with the Houston Texans who recently signed a lucrative four-year deal with the team, was all smiles while walking around Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
As a free agent, Leach had an offer from the New York Giants. However, the Texans matched the offer to keep Leach around.
Leach is hoping to be playing in Hawaii next year.
Brian Rimpf, an offensive guard with the Baltimore Ravens, shook plenty of hands on Saturday.
Rimpf missed last season with a hamstring injury.
Rimpf is hoping for a more productive 2007 season.
Damane Duckett, a right offensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers, towered over nearly everybody. His big grin matched his big size near the playing field while talking with former teammates.
Duckett will be making a switch this season. He is being moved from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive side.
He said it can be a tough transition, but he’s up for it.
Duckett said he and the team have some high expectations.