Pirates Unable To Stop Midshipmen's Running Attack
Oct. 27, 2012
By Bill Woodward
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina had only one option against Navy on Saturday night. That was to control the Midshipmen's triple-option attack.
And has been the history in the series with Navy, the Pirates could not crack the puzzle of the old-school attack.
Navy rolled up 512 yards the ground in a 56-28 victory at rain-soaked Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. In four games with the service academy, East Carolina has won only once, allowing 195 points and 1,988 total yards of offense combined.
On Saturday, Navy got at least 50 yards on the ground from five players, led by Gee Gee Greene with 131 yards on 14 carries. They Midshipmen averaged 7.4 yards per carry.
"It's really tough (defending the option)," ECU safety Chip Thompson said. "Everybody has to do what they are supposed to do and if one person misses an assignment, it will go for six points."
The Pirates got beat on the corner time and time again, with the quarterback pitching at the last second to a trailing back. With a blocker out in front, the yards came in chunks.
"The problem was just making sure their guy doesn't have that much room on the outside to run," Thompson said. "They were getting out to the perimeter real quick.
"It was a nice scheme. It seemed like a lot of times they had an extra blocker than what we practiced for. They had us out-leveraged. "
Thompson made a big play on defense for the Pirates, picking off a pass in the end zone. A 96-yard touchdown drive followed and the Pirates had climbed back from a 14-0 deficit to tie the score at 14-14.
"I thought it would swing the momentum back on our side and it did for second," Thompson said.
But the moment was fleeting. Navy led 21-14 at halftime and was up 42-14 late in the third quarter.
For East Carolina's offense, consistency was hard to find. And that's deadly against the ultra-efficient Midshipmen.
"When we moved the ball, we were fine," ECU quarterback Shane Carden said. "But we kind of hurt ourselves.
"I think it did get to our team's head a little bit that they kept scoring. But as an offense, that is one of the things we can't have. We have to concentrate on how we are moving the ball. We can't let outside things affect us."
For the Pirates' defense, which was led by Damon Magazu with 12 tackles, it was a long, frustrating night.
"It's something you don't see every day and they run it exceptionally well," Magazu said. "You can't really duplicate it in practice.
"Navy came out and they had a good game. They outplayed us. Hats off to them."
Asked if he was glad to see the last of Navy and its triple-option for this season, Thompson had the response of a player who knows his team could have done better.
"That is not how I would like to see it go away," he said. "I wish we could play them tomorrow double or nothing. But that is not the case."