Emotional week catches up to Kass

Published 6:44 am Wednesday, October 17, 2007

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — A long, emotional week may have taken its toll on East Carolina’s starting quarterback.
During post-practice interviews Tuesday evening, Rob Kass had to cut his session short after appearing to faint. While talking with a reporter, Kass’ eyes began to dart and he laying heavily on the reporter.
An ECU sports information member raced over and helped lower Kass to the ground. The sophomore quarterback rubbed his head, tried to get up once and was coaxed into staying on the ground.
ECU head coach Skip Holtz, who had been talking with a host of media members some 20 yards away, raced to his quarterback’s side to check on his status. Within moments, Holtz had Kass laughing.
Kass, who apologized to the reporter for not being able to finish the interview, never lost consciousness and walked to the training room under his own power while a pair of ECU trainers stayed by his side.
Kass said he drank some Gatorade and was “absolutely fine” once he got into the training room.
Moments before his episode, Kass spoke fondly of ECU’s clutch 45-42 overtime win against UTEP on Saturday, coming just three days after he attended the funeral of his beloved grandmother, Lucille Voelker.
It capped a long and trying week for the ECU quarterback. Kass flew to New York to attend his grandmother’s funeral on Wednesday, hopped a plane Thursday and returned to Greenville, then jumped on a plane with his teammates Friday to make the long trek to El Paso, Texas, to play Saturday’s game.
The misty eyes and slight grin Kass wore following the thrilling win told the whole story.
He shrugged off a three-interception game, jet lag and the loss of his grandmother to lead the Pirates to the improbable win over the UTEP Miners. His 34-yard touchdown pass to Juwon Crowell on the final play of regulation tied the game.
Starting at the ECU 29 and just 34 seconds showing on the clock, Kass (18-of-32 for 219 yards) calmly and confidently led his team down the field. He hit Jamar Bryant with 12 and 10 yards receptions to get within striking distance.
With four ticks remaining, Kass broke the huddle, took the snap from center, rolled out to his right and zipped an absolute bullet to Crowell 34 yards away. All Crowell had to do was spin and break the plane of the goal line for the tying score.
It’s that kind of resolve that has impressed Kass’ head coach.
In overtime, after UTEP had taken a 42-39 lead, Kass hit Davon Drew with a 15-yard floater to the UTEP 1-yard line. Kass then bullied his way over to hand the Pirates the victory.
Kass, who is now 38-of-70 (54.3 percent) for 541 yards to go with five touchdowns and three interceptions, and the Pirates (4-3, 3-1 C-USA) are scheduled to practice from 10 to 11:30 p.m. today in preparation for Saturday’s game against N.C. State (1-5, 0-3 ACC).
Holtz and the trainers will undoubtedly be keeping an eye on Kass.