Prior to Saturday, I hadn’t attended an East Carolina home football game in five years, and with the Pirates playing pretty well this season, I felt my presence in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium was long overdue. Given that my life sometimes appears to be a comedy of errors, it was only fitting that ECU lost to Houston 42-3 in one of the most unanticipated beatdowns the Pirates have ever endured. They were six-point favorites but were thoroughly outclassed by a Cougars team that gave up 77 points to SMU two weeks prior.

I predicted here in this column space earlier this season that the Pirates could end up being the most compelling story of the 2022 season when it comes to North Carolina college football, since coach Mike Houston has successfully revitalized an ECU program that had been rather downtrodden. And he has done that — remarkably, the Pirates committed zero penalties or turnovers against the visitors Saturday despite the lopsided result, and more important, they’re bowl eligible for the second season in a row. But it’s obvious that even with its loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday, Heisman candidate quarterback Drake Maye and North Carolina have been the story of the season with the Tar Heels having already secured a surprising bid to the ACC championship game. Still, I was able to take a thing or two away from ECU’s Senior Day. I’m pleased to report that the game day environment in Dowdy-Ficklen remains not only marvelous, but ever improving.

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