ECU defeats Miami in the greatest game I ever attended (1999)

in sports •  9 months ago  (edited)

There is a lot of talk about hurricane Dorian hitting the USA right now and that kind of jogged my memory. I went to 2 Universities, but one of them was East Carolina University which is near the East Coast of North Carolina. Understand this: When you live in North Carolina, hurricanes are just kind of part of life - you get used to it. One particular year, and a particularly bad hurricane (Floyd) we saw our town decimated by flooding (I'm talking Marshal Law declared, no electricity or water available in the entire city, thousands of houses destroyed, forced evacuation of 50,000 people flooding.)

I was attending the university at the time and my apartment, which was normally in sight of the river, ended up completely underwater along with any of the belongings I couldn't get out of it in time. It was a pretty horrible time but being a poor college student we pretty much just drank a bunch of beer until the military forced us out of the city. You tend to take things in stride at that age.

Anyway, when it came time for ECU to play the Miami Hurricanes at home, we couldn't even host them in our own stadium because Greenville, NC was still under Marshall Law, and the stadium (along with a great amount of the entire city) was damaged by flooding. Therefore, we were offered by NC State (our rival) to play in their stadium.

This game was held 85 miles away from our own stadium and East Carolina fans had been through a lot at this point. The irony of the situation was that many of us (like me) had recently lost everything they own to a Hurricane, and as I am sure you are aware, the name of the Miami team is the Miami Hurricanes.


While ECU was known as the "best college football team in North Carolina" at the time, that really isn't saying a lot; since the state isn't exactly known for their fantastic football programs. It is more of a basketball state. ECU was being watched in 1999, but they weren't in the top 40 at the time and Miami was currently the number 9 team in the country. No one expected ECU to accomplish much in this game.

Our spirits were high and we had an incredibly dedicated fan-base, we didn't exactly expect to win this game.

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The entire first half happened exactly the way you would expect when one the best teams in the country meets a team ranked in the 40's or so - it was an extremely one-sided affair as Miami seemed unstoppable and went to a 20-0 lead. It looked like it was going to be a rout and many of the Pirate fans headed home at half-time.

Boy do I feel bad for anyone that did.


The ECU squad that came out in the 2nd half seemed like a totally different team and this began on the very first play of the 2nd half where the Pirates defense intercepted a pass and ran it back for their first points of the game. This momentum must have jacked up the Pirates on the field because they were relentless in their attack for the entire second half.

David Garrard (who was likely the 1st or 2nd best QB to ever play at ECU and ended up going to Jacksonville as a pro) completed 20 of 27 passes for over 200 yards and since he was also a Michael Vick-type player, he was more than capable of running through the defense if Miami over-compensated in the backfield. The Pirates looked so spectacular that it boggled the mind that the team was so ineffective in the entire first half.

ECU scored 27 (almost) unanswered points in the 2nd half, most of it in the 4th quarter and on Miami's final possession the Pirates were 4 points ahead thereby necessitating a touchdown... field goals will do you no good at this point.

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ECU is kind of known as having some pretty crazy fans and basically, when we win a game against an opponent like this one, we rush the field and tear down their goalposts if there is enough of us. I know this isn't very nice but that is just something that Pirate fans do. As the final whistle sounded, our fans were already lined up facing down the state troopers and stadium security as we jumped the wall and proceeded to tear the posts down. The officers were told (apparently) to let us pass, lest the situation get ugly because well, there were thousands of us and 40 of them...

It was kind of a dick move and I was one of the people on the filed touching the goalposts as I looked up into the stands to see our own fans booing us. It didn't matter but the fact remains that we were visitors in this stadium and the team who owned it wasn't even playing (NC State.) ECU athletic administration covered the costs to have them replaced later.


In a show of solidarity, our final game of this epic season that saw ECU reach as high as number 11 on the national rankings - we faced NC State in our final home game. After winning that game by 30 points or so, we rushed the field and tore down our own goal posts.

This was by far the most magical football game I have ever attended and I have been to a lot of them. An upset is an amazing thing (when you are the underdog) but beating a much higher ranked team whose name is the very thing that just destroyed your town and all your stuff just 10 days prior. Well, that is poetic justice.

Unfortunately ECU has been relatively crap ever since those years despite having massively expanded their stadium and football program in general. We will always have those glory years.

Top image source - no matter what i did i can't text-wrap and source at the location

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I enjoy sports a lot, football is one of the ones I like the most.

Although I don't understand it in all its fundamentals!

This is true of many of my non-North American friends here in Thailand. Once they sit down with someone that does understand that game, it changes their perception of the game. I did the same thing with rugby and cricket... it's a far more fun experience if you are sitting with someone that is a seasoned fan. :)

Takes me back to my football days here in Adelaide. I was a fullback. Ah, the glory days.

I don't watch much now...A little NFL and some of the University games. We get it live here (pay TV) so it's good for when I have the inclination to watch a game. I miss playing it though.

That hurricane over yet? (I don't watch the "news".)

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one of my family members is a nurse in the coastal areas of NC, she hasn't said. I, like you, don't pay much attention to the news. However, she was saying that the hospitals are on lockdown, as in they are not letting anyone in there unless approved by paramedics. I don't think the devastation is anywhere near what has happened in past hurricanes.

The force of nature can be relentless and frightening. Let's hope all is well and damage is kept to a minimum...And people get the madical care they need.

That's pretty sweet that you played. I was both a football and soccer player my freshman year, and i was pretty good at both. However, it was becoming pretty apparent that i wasn't going to grow to be big enough to not get creamed and I was much better at soccer. I was, at that time around 160 lbs or so, and even playing as a receiver, on shorts plays i would just get rocked by much heavier defensive players. I started to be scared and was dropping passes because I was focusing on not getting blindsided rather than keeping my eyes on the ball.

It was time to play just soccer at that point ... which all worked out nicely because i was much more suited to that game. The only problem was, in the early 90's, nobody really gave a rat's ass about soccer.

Discretion is the better part of valor or something like that right?

I started as a linebacker then lost a little weight, got fast and ran lead block for my brother who was the half back. I gained short yardage and s ores some fighting TD's Loved it. Ten years and a lot of pain later I stopped. I was 32 I think. Was great whilst it lasted...My 49 year old bones regret it though.

Soccer is huge these days isn't it. A world sport. I sucked at soccer. Monumentally bad at it. 😋

  ·  9 months ago (edited)

Hmmm. a long story in the world of sports. interesting things to share

I think a lot of times now they have them on hinges so they can bring them down when something like this happens. They learned their lesson a bit ago I think. That is a really cool story and it is awesome that you were there to witness it. I have been to a bunch of sporting events, but nothing that exciting or spectacular.

i actually didn't want to go to this event and didn't go to many of my own college's football games despite the fact that they were good when i was there and it was free for us to attend.

We were more of a tailgate and then walk away type group.

Yeah, I can understand that. Believe it or not, I just took part in my first official tailgate a year or two ago. It was with some in laws down at Ohio State. I had never been to one before and it was a really great experience. College football fans really know how to do it up right!