More than a game

Published 6:33 am Tuesday, October 16, 2007

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — The last time these two teams played in Greenville, 50,092 fans packed their way into Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The East Carolina Pirates took a 23-6 win over the N.C. State Wolfpack in front of that stadium-record crowd on Nov. 20, 1999.
The Wolfpack (1-5, 0-3 ACC) makes its first return trip in eight years on Saturday to face the Pirates (4-3, 3-1 C-USA). Another jam-packed stadium is expected for the 4:30 p.m. kickoff.
For the Pirates, who are on a three-game winning streak, and the Wolfpack, currently on a three-game skid, it will be more than just who wins and who loses.
Holtz, who earned his 50th career coaching victory in ECU’s 45-42 overtime win against UTEP last Saturday, led the Pirates to a 34-31 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels on Sept. 8. The Pirates will be looking for the “state championship” sweep on Saturday.
If that happens, it would be the first time in school history that the Pirates had beaten the Tar Heels and Wolfpack in football in the same year.
ECU, which trails 14-10 in the series with N.C. State, took a 21-16 nod over the Wolfpack last year in Raleigh. The Pirates will be gunning for their second straight over their instate rival.
Along with the bragging rights in the state, Holtz said the Pirates have a chance to show the country what they’re made of this season.
Eskridge named C-USA Defensive Player-of-the-Week
IRVING, Texas – East Carolina sophomore Van Eskridge was named Conference USA Defensive Player-of-the-Week.
A native of Shelby, Eskridge racked up eight total tackles, including seven solo hits during ECU’s 45-42 overtime win at UTEP. He was also credited with a pass breakup and became the first Pirate in three seasons to return a fumble for a touchdown.Eskridge scooped up a Lorne Sam fumble at midfield and raced 50 yards for a touchdown to erase an early 7-3 deficit. The return was the first for ECU since Jamar Flournoy picked up a loose ball agaisnt USF on Nov. 13, 2004 and also ranked as the seventh-longest in school history. Eskridge was part of a Pirate defense that forced three Miner turnovers. He currently serves as the Pirates leading tackler with 59 stops (also a team-high 34 solo hits).
Eskridge is the third Pirate this season to capture C-USA weekly honors following Patrick Pinkney (Sept. 10) and Chris Johnson (Oct. 8).
Joining Eskridge as Players-of-the-Week were Donnie Avery (WR, Houston) and Jose Martinez (K, UTEP).