Unsung heroes help steady Pirates

Published 8:22 pm Monday, September 1, 2008

By Staff
Steve Franklin, Sports Writer
East Carolina was the talk of Charlotte on Saturday night after stunning No. 15 Virginia Tech, 27-22 in the season opener.
The purple and gold faithful hit the streets of the Queen City in masses to celebrate one of the biggest wins in school history.
Folks gushed over T.J. Lee’s game-winning blocked punt and subsequent return. They spoke highly of Patrick Pinkney’s record-setting passing day. And they were in awe of the defense’s ability to limit the Hokies to just 243 yards of total offense.
But it seemed as though no one spoke of the game’s true heroes - the Pirates’ offensive line.
The massive men up front had their way with one of the best defenses in the land.
Tech has had a top-10 rushing defense each of the last four years, and had the fourth best overall defense in the land a year ago. But the Pirates offensive line dominated the Hokies’ defensive front in the opener.
ECU rushed for 158 yards against a team that allowed just 90 yards a game last season. The Hokies only gave up 2.7 yards per carry in 2007, but Saturday East Carolina averaged just under four yards per touch.
And the pass protection from starters Stanley Bryant, Cory Dowless, Sean Allen, Doug Palmer and D.J. Scott, along with top reserves Terence Campbell, T.J. Harper and Stephen Heis was virtually flawless. The back of quarterback Patrick Pinkney’s purple jersey was as clean as a whistle as he walked off the field with his hands raised in the air.
The offensive line didn’t allow a sack all day. In fact, Tech only got pressure on the Pirates’ signal caller on one occasion.
Pinkney tipped his hat to the big boys up front following the game. He credited them with helping him establish a new single-game school record for completion percentage by completing 19-of-23 passes (82.6 percent completion percentage).
While Lee’s punt block and Pinkney’s passing performance were the most memorable moments from Saturday’s shocking upset, the hard work of the guys up front was just as important in leading the Pirates to the unforgettable win.