Pirates’ complete game earns long-sought home win

Published 7:43 pm Monday, October 23, 2017

GREENVILLE — Finally after six-straight loses in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium dating back to last season, East Carolina picked up a 33-17 win over Brigham Young University at home Saturday on homecoming.

This weekend, the Pirates and Cougars stepped onto Bagwell Field with two combined wins, looking for a boost of energy. Now it will be ECU that has the momentum from a non-conference win.

“This (win) is huge. We have to continue to go out there and attack like we did,” wide receiver Davon Grayson said. He had 10 receptions for 164 yards. “I believe in my teammates. Obviously, the young guys see this is what it can be every time we step out there.”

Throughout this season, ECU has stumbled in several areas, most times switching between one weak element to another. One week, the Pirates would struggle sustaining drives on offense and picking up points. Another week, the offense would be successful, but the defense would be unable to stop the opponent.

This weekend, the Pirates showed progress as each side of the ball worked together.

The offense worked to maintain drives and pick up points. The defense, in turn, could rest before returning the field, while also having a sense of relief with points on the board.

The two units fed off of one another. The result was ECU’s first complete game of the season.

“I thought the key to this game was our overall team speed,” head coach Scottie Montgomery said. “Overall, a great performance by offense, defense, special teams, and how they connect with each other.”

ECU will now enter some down time as it embraces a much-needed bye week. The Pirates will now have a week to get their roster healthy again and prepare, before heading down to Houston. That game will begin the final third of the season. ECU will end November, and the season, with a showdown at Memphis.

The bye week will be most beneficial for getting healthy. Thomas Sirk suffered an injury in the second half. Backup Gardner Minshew stepped up to the plate. He launched a bomb to Davon Grayson on his first play, and ended up throwing a pair of touchdown passes.

Even with the success Minshew enjoyed, ECU will want all of its starters healthy for a chance to finish well in the AAC.

“(Sirk’s) out there battling through (his injury), and it just got to a point where he couldn’t,” Minshew said. “I hate to see that. That’s my brother out there, but when I had my opportunity I had to help my team in any way I can.”

In two weeks, the Pirates will travel down to Texas as a start to the last four games left in the season. Houston currently sits at 2-2 in the conference, but while the Pirates are enjoying some time off, the Cougars will face league favorite South Florida on the road.

“So really really proud of all these guys,” Montgomery said. “And looking forward to getting to an open date with some momentum, some confidence and getting into the ladder part of the year playing good football.”