10/21/07 — Wolfpack pillages Pirates' win streak

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Wolfpack pillages Pirates' win streak

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on October 21, 2007 2:04 AM

GREENVILLE -- East Carolina's roller-coaster ride of a season took a sharp turn in the wrong direction on Saturday.

The Pirates fell behind by two touchdowns and never closed the gap in a 34-20 loss to in-state rival N.C. State at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The loss snapped ECU's three-game winning streak and evened its overall record at 4-4.

"It's difficult to lose," Pirates head coach Skip Holtz said. "It's difficult to lose when you've been on a winning streak. This was eight weeks in a row. Every game has been extremely emotional. It takes a wear and a tear on you."

The Wolfpack (2-5) scored 14 points in 11 seconds late in the first quarter. Daniel Evans' 37-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Davis capped an eight play, 71-yard Wolfpack drive.

Patrick Pinkney's handoff to Chris Johnson was fumbled on ECU's next play from scrimmage. Evans capitalized one play later, finding John Dunlap in the end zone from 21-yards out.

East Carolina's offense didn't improve the situation, either. The Pirates managed just 36 yards in the first quarter and two first downs.

The nightmare continued for ECU early in the second quarter. N.C. State blocked Matt Dodge's punt attempt deep in Pirates territory, and J.C. Neal scooped it up and strolled 20 yards into the end zone for a 21-0 Wolfpack lead.

"We have been talking about how we haven't been forcing turnovers," N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien said. "We forced them tonight, and that really helped this football team."

After Evans was picked off by ECU's Jeremy Chambliss, Chris Johnson scored on fourth-and-goal from the one, putting a dent in N.C. State's lead at 21-7.

The Wolfpack had an opportunity to extend its lead with less than two minutes remaining in the half, but their fake field-goal attempt at the ECU 25-yard line came up short.

Pirates signal-caller Rob Kass orchestrated a seven-play, 72-yard drive, that ended in an 18-yard touchdown pass to Jamar Bryant. Kass was four-of-seven on the scoring drive that lasted just 49 seconds, and got ECU right back in the ballgame, trailing 21-14.

Donald Bowens fumbled the ensuing kickoff return for N.C. State, and the Pirates recovered on their own 41-yard line with 23 seconds left in the half. Ben Hartman's 47-yard field goal as time expired shrunk what was once a 21-0 Wolfpack lead to just 21-17.

Hartman's 39-yard field goal with over five minutes to play in the third quarter trimmed the deficit to 21-20.

"Ben has a lot of talent," Holtz said. "I have a lot of confidence in Ben. I've seen him go out there on the practice fields, and I've seen the success that he's had. He's doing a really nice job."

Steven Hauschka's 41-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter extended the margin to 24-20.

Kass' fourth-quarter interception deep in Pirates territory set up Evans' 15-yard touchdown pass to Jamelle Eugene. With less than nine minutes to play the lead had swelled back to 31-20.

Evans finished 29-for-44 and torched the Pirates' defense for 335 yards and three touchdowns.

"I thought Daniel Evans played an excellent game at quarterback," Holtz said. "I thought he did a nice job of protecting the football. He threw some really nice balls down the field. I thought they did the things they had to do to seal the game."

Kass was sacked twice on ECU's next possession, and Hauschka added a late field-goal. The Wolfpack defense forced two ECU turnovers and sacked Kass six times.