As the East Carolina University (ECU) faithful celebrated a 32-11 homecoming victory over the University of Memphis football team, head coach Tommy West stared at the scoreboard with eyes hard and wide, red with emotion and troubled with what he saw there in neon lights. The Tigers had a chance to solidify a place as the leagues second best team. Instead, the squad came out with no heart, no interest, and no clue about how to beat ECU.
I wanted to remember it, West said of the scoreboard. Not that Im going to forget it overnight.
According to West , the reason for the final score this night was simple. We got our butts kicked, he said. I got mine whipped. Everybody on our football team, we came up here and we got whipped. I wish there was some other way to say it, but there isnt ... We didnt block anybody that I could see. We ran routes and fell down ... I know everybody would like a more complex answer but the answer is that we got whipped.
And it only got worse from there. The Tigers gave up 473 total ECU offensive yards with Pirates running back Leonard Harry leading the way with 132 yards on 26 carries. Pirates quarterback David Garrard threw 25 times for 20 completions and 268 yards, with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Richard Alston. Garrard also rushed in two touchdowns of his own. Pirates Kicker Kevin Miller rounded out the scoring onslaught with four field goals from the 35, the 26, the 35 again, and the 26, respectively.
Memphis had few answers, and none of them satisfactory. Tigers running back Dante Brown, dominant to this point, mustered only 70 yards on 19 runs. Tigers quarterback Danny Wimprine threw 27 times but for only 16 completions and 159 yards. Wimprine did score the Tigers only touchdown when he threw to receiver Bunkie Perkins late in the game. Kicker Ryan White hit an early second half field goal from 31 yards.
I think our defense ran out of gas at the end, West said about Memphis inability to stop ECU. That running out of gas included embarrassing un-sportsmanlike penalty late in the game after ECU punched into the end zone once again. I was really disappointed by the end of the game at our lack of poise, West said. And Im responsible for that. And I will correct that. Were not going to be a team that, when things are going well, were all beating on our chests and when things dont go our way, we fall apart and lose our poise. Thats not our way.
West said that this sort of loss is a part of the Tigers growing phase. Its a tough loss, but it counts [only] one. And were a football team thats still growing. Were a football team, right now, that has to play very sound fundamentally. We cant make mistakes and win football games. Especially not against one of the best teams in our league. Weve got a lot of work to do. We still have a chance to accomplish a lot of our goals.
The Tigers and Tommy West will go after those goals -- a winning season, a bowl bid, respect -- next Saturday, October 27, in Memphis against the University of Alabama-Birmingham.