No longer unbeaten, ECU still has a lot to play for

Published 12:16 am Monday, September 22, 2008

By Staff
Commentary by STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
The dream is over.
The Pirates’ hope of going undefeated, their bid to make a BCS bowl, the Cinderella story, it all ended when N.C. State running back Andre Brown jumped over an ECU defender, ran over another, then carried two more into the end zone on a 10-yard run to lead the Wolfpack to a stunning 30-24 overtime victory over the 15th ranked Pirates.
The national media has shut off their cameras and headed out of town, and the country’s attention will turn to some other underdog to carry the torch for the little guy.
While the spotlight that has shone on East Carolina through the first month of the season will inevitably get dimmer, the Pirates continue to remain focused on putting together a stellar season.
“It’s disappointing, but at the same time, I think it will help us stay humble,” said running back Norman Whitley, who rushed for a career-high 83 yards in Saturday’s loss to the Wolfpack. “We’re going to have to come in tomorrow and work even harder to get to where we want to go.
After falling to a one-win N.C. State team for the second straight season, the ranking next to the Pirates gets bigger, as ECU falls to No. 23 in the latest Associated Press Poll. But the Pirates refuse to dwell on it.
“Just like I tell them after a win, they have 24 hours to enjoy it, then they have to move on,” Coach Skip Holtz said. “It hurts, but I told them they have 24 hours to get the hurt and pain out. We’ll move forward and watch the film, and we’ll learn a lot from this game and a lot about us. We lost to a good football team…an ACC team. We’ll move on and get ready for Houston.”
Though the dream of an unbeaten season and a berth in one of college football’s biggest bowl games is no longer a reality, the Pirates are holding their heads high as they get ready for the meat of their conference schedule.
“We still got work to do,” Eskridge said. “We haven’t won a conference championship or accomplished any of the other goals we’ve set for ourselves. The season isn’t over.”
“The only thing this loss means is that we can’t go undefeated,” Eskridge added. “We can still get a conference championship ring and we can still win a bowl game. We still have a lot to play for.”