Junior Brandon Williams recorded a career-high 12 tackles in first ECU start
Sept. 14, 2013
By Bill Woodward
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina's defense went toe-to-toe with Virginia Tech's defenders on Saturday, and got in plenty of punches in a 15-10 loss to the Hokies at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The tone was set on the Hokies' first play from scrimmage. Virginia Tech tailback Trey Edmunds was met at the line by several Pirates and fell forward for a yard.
And that was the way it was all afternoon. The Hokies kept testing the Pirates' run defense, but couldn't find an opening - managing just 53 yards on the ground on 34 carries, less than two yards a pop.
"That is what we came out here to do," linebacker Zeek Bigger said. "We talked about it all week, stopping the run. We don't want anybody to run on us. That is how we are going to keep our mind-set throughout the rest of the season."
The one glitch in the Pirates' defensive day was on third down. The Hokies converted nine of 20 opportunities, almost all of those coming through the air as quarterback Logan Thomas threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns.
"It wasn't anything different on third down," linebacker Brandon Williams said. "It was more like a miscommunication on our defense."
The Pirates came up with their share of big stops, however. They gave their team a chance to win when they stopped Tech on a fourth-and-1 at the ECU 10 with 2:04 left- a chance that didn't materialize when the Hokies got a safety two plays later for the final margin.
Williams and Bigger were filling in at inside linebacker for the injured Jeremy Grove and Kyle Tudor. They played well, with Williams sharing the team lead in tackles with Derrell Johnson with 12 and Bigger getting in on nine stops.
A defensive play that wasn't made left the Pirates wondering what-if.
Outside linebacker Montese Overton read a swing pass play perfectly on the first play of the fourth quarter, stepping right into the passing lane. The ball hit Overton in the hands and he had clear sailing into the end zone with the Pirates trailing 13-10. But he couldn't hold onto the ball, and it fell harmlessly to the ground.
"I thought he was going to take it in for a touchdown," Williams said. "But he tried to run with it (before he caught it). You need to cash in on chances like that, but we still could have stopped them more and given our offense more chances to score."
East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill applauded his defense.
"I was proud of our football team," McNeill said. "I was proud of the way the defense stepped up and made some things happen. We got after them and they got after us."
McNeill was impressed with the job that Williams, a junior, and Bigger did against the Hokies.
"I felt good about the way Zeek and Brandon stepped in," McNeill said. "Both of them had good weeks of practice. They were ready to play."
But so was the Hokies' defense. Virginia Tech held ECU to 46 yards on the ground and picked off three Shane Carden passes.
"We always think we can compete with anybody," senior cornerback Adonis Armstrong said. "We went out there and made plays and they just made a few more plays than we did."