East Carolina Uses Defense For Liberty Bowl Victory
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ East Carolina played the part of tourist at last year’s Liberty Bowl. This year, they played for respect.
East Carolina gained revenge Saturday for last year’s Liberty Bowl defeat by using a surprising defensive effort to overcome problems on offense and post a 19-13 victory over Stanford (7-4-1).
``ECU is playing for respect,″ Pirate defensive tackle Lorenzo West said. ``Each and every week, we want to win and gain more respect.
``Fortunately for us, we made it to the Liberty Bowl and knew in our minds we had to win the game. We came here to win the game. Not to party, not to see the events and the sights out there. We came to win the game.″
The highly touted offense of the Pirates (9-4) produced only a career-high four field goals by Chad Holcomb. East Carolina’s lone touchdown came on a 39-yard interception return by Daren Hart in the first quarter.
``Their defense stymied us just enough,″ said Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham. ``We could not really get our offense on track, and I think that was the difference in the game.″
Several Pirate defenders said Hart’s interception set the tone for the game in the first meeting between the teams.
``I think that slapped them (Stanford) in the face,″ East Carolina linebacker Mark Libiano said. ``They didn’t think we were any good .... They just thought they were going to slap us around a little bit, but we all came together for that one play ... and that was great.″
Logan admitted he was surprised the Pirates could win a game without scoring an offensive touchdown.
``That has not happened in the seven years I’ve been at East Carolina. I know that,″ Logan said.
A shootout had been predicted as each team featured a quarterback who has thrown for more than 2,500 yards. But East Carolina forced four turnovers and held Stanford to 211 yards total offense.
Mark Butterfield was intercepted twice and fumbled once while completing 15 of 27 for 139 yards.
The Cardinal was held to its lowest point total of the season, scoring on a second-quarter touchdown by Adam Salina and a 2-yard return of a blocked punt by Kwame Ellis in the third quarter.
``I think both defenses might have felt a little bit slighted coming in, and you never know with human emotion what takes place,″ Logan said.
Holcomb kicked field goals of 46, 25, 41 and 34 yards in breaking a Liberty Bowl record of three in a game held by two other kickers.
The St. Jude Liberty Bowl is named for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Logan said he won’t worry about rankings or whether his Pirates, an independent, are taken into a conference. He said the program is healthy, and he’ll let someone else decide if East Carolina should be ranked.
``What we have control over is trying to win the next game,″ Logan said. ``Whether we’re in a conference, out of a conference, people want to accept us, don’t accept us. Win the next game; just win the next game. ... We’ve got a game next September. We’re going to show up and try to win it.