Sep 152014
 

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By Jane Dail

September 15, 2014

East Carolina University released its preliminary census numbers for the fall semester, and while undergraduate enrollment and transfers have increased, graduate enrollment continues to decrease.

Associate Provost for Enrollment Services John Fletcher said the numbers are released after the 10th day of classes each semester but are not final until they are reviewed by the college’s general administration.

Fletcher said the initial numbers showed 27,511 students enrolled at the university this fall, 624 more than last year.

He said this is the fourth-largest enrollment total in the school’s history.

Fletcher said undergraduate enrollment accounts for 22,252 students — 744 more than last year. Freshmen made up 4,226 of those, the third-largest freshman class in the university’s history.

“We’re really excited; that’s our largest undergraduate enrollment in the university’s history,” Fletcher said.

Despite the uptick in undergraduates, graduate student enrollment dropped by 162 to 4,740. Fletcher said ECU is not the only university experiencing such a decrease.

“We’ve seen it pretty much across the state,” he said. “Graduate enrollment has been somewhat in decline. We’re following that same trend.”

Transfer enrollment set another school record, he said. Fall enrollees included 1,779 transfer students, the largest group in ECU’s history.

Fletcher said the rise can be attributed to the university’s efforts to make the transfer process easier for prospective students, Officials hope to continue to improve the process, he said.

“We’ve always recognized the value that our transfer students bring to campus, but I think in the new world of higher education in North Carolina, transfers are even more valuable,” Fletcher said.

He said transfer numbers across the state are increasing, along with enrollment at two-year institutions.

An update to a comprehensive articulation agreement, which guaranteed transferability of general education courses from community colleges in the state to the University of North Carolina system last year may have helped transfer numbers increase, Fletcher said.

“We would certainly want to grow our transfer enrollment,” he said. “CAA certainly can help with the ability of students to bring more of their hours with them if they transfer to the four-year schools.”

Fletcher said ECU typically has the third-largest student population in state, with N.C. State University first and UNC-Chapel Hill second. He said because of the large graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill — and the statewide trend of reduced graduate student enrollment — he is curious to see what effect it will have on enrollment.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how that will come out this year,” he said. “… We’re really more about trying to do the right things for the right reasons. Not to be necessarily the biggest, but perhaps we can do what we can to assist the students of the state in their desire to seek higher education.”

Fletcher said more comprehensive numbers and breakdowns by colleges and departments likely will be available by the next ECU Board of Trustees meeting. He said the preliminary numbers were higher than he expected, which he viewed as a positive.

“I would take that to mean the demand for ECU education remains high, that we continue to be a strong choice for students from North Carolina and from out of state,” he said.

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Sep 152014
 

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September 15, 2014

From how light and noise affect health to obesity, East Carolina University on Saturday joined in worldwide discussions about ways to improve and innovate the health care industry.

About 100 people attended the event that brought TEDMED, a global community that features short talks on potential for change in health care, to its health sciences campus.

Vision, Innovation and Achievement — a group of faculty and students at the Brody School of Medicine — hosted the event with the help of the medical school and Vidant Health.

The group streamed TEDMED talks from an event this past week and had local speakers provide responses to the themes of “Don’t You Dare Talk about This” and “Human Nature Inside and Out.”

Local speakers including Daniel Goldberg, Krista McCoy, Sam Sears and Julie Barrett were nominated and then selected.

Goldberg, an assistant professor in medical school’s bioethics and interdisciplinary studies department, discussed health and social medicine beyond sick care.

McCoy, a biology assistant professor, talked about environmental chemical exposures, endocrine disruption and childhood disease.

Sears, a psychology and cardiovascular sciences professor at ECU, discussed pursuing health security in the context of health threats.

Barrett, a fourth-year medical student, talked about changing the paradigm of obesity.

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Sep 152014
 

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By STEVEN V. ROBERTS
For the Washington Post
Sunday, September 14, 2014

In September 2008, as the economy was imploding, John McCain suspended his campaign for the presidency and canceled a guest spot on David Letterman’s late-night TV show. “I’m more than a little disappointed by this behavior,” fumed the comedian, who liked to warn politicians – only half-jokingly – that “the road to the White House runs through me.” Letterman’s anger was widely publicized, and McCain was deeply chastened. He agreed to appear on the show a few weeks later and twice admitted, “I screwed up.” When the comedian responded, “I’m willing to put this behind us,” McCain practically groveled in gratitude, saying “thank you” five times.

The authors of Politics Is a Joke! – S. Robert Lichter teaches communications at George Mason University; his collaborators, Jody C. Baumgartner and Jonathan S. Morris, are political scientists at East Carolina University – point out that in this exchange the “balance of power” clearly favored the comedian, not the candidate. And Letterman wasn’t even the most influential comic of 2008. That would be Tina Fey, whose devastating impersonations of McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, on Saturday Night Live, shredded what was left of her credibility.

The writing here is often bland and the arguments repetitive. And the book includes a lot of confusing charts from academics who try – and largely fail – to measure the precise impact of humor on political attitudes. But this is a compelling subject. Jokes are no laughing matter. As the authors put it, “Late night humor has . . . become entrenched as a force in American politics.” A Pew survey found that 28 percent of all adults get some political information from these shows, but that number jumped to 39 percent for voters under 30.

Jesters are as old as politics, of course. Cartoonist Thomas Nast skewered the bosses of New York’s Tammany Hall in the late 19th century, and humorists such as Mark Twain and Will Rogers made “poking fun at a Congress . . . a time-honored American Pastime.” One of Twain’s famous lines still seems pretty fresh today: “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

What changed the equation was television. It shifted the focus from institutions to individuals. The authors recount an episode from 1967, when Richard Nixon was rebuilding his political reputation by appearing on the Mike Douglas Show. “It’s a shame a man has to use gimmicks like this (television) to get elected,” Nixon complained. A young producer named Roger Ailes shot back, “Television is not a gimmick, and if you think it is you’ll lose again.” Nixon was so impressed that he hired Ailes, and a year later the candidate appeared on the popular show Laugh-In. He said exactly four words – the show’s signature slogan, “Sock it to me?” – but Nixon established an important precedent by utilizing a comic setting for a serious purpose: connecting with voters. One commentator said that the brief cameo turned Nixon “into a ‘regular fella’ willing to poke fun at himself.”

The influence of comedy shows flows from two sources. One is the jokes. The authors analyze more than 100,000 of them and conclude that the most memorable jibes play off “an obvious theme or trope” that already exists: George W. Bush is dumb, Al Gore is stiff, John McCain is old, Mitt Romney is rich. Bill Clinton was the “all-time favorite target of late night comedians” because he had two large appetites that were easily lampooned – food and sex. By contrast, Barack Obama has always been an elusive subject. “Raunchy” makes a much richer target than “remote.”

Comics don’t create these stereotypes, but they inflate and amplify them. As Democratic consultant Mandy Grunwald said in 1999, once the late-night comics “are making jokes about you, you have a serious problem.” And technology has only expanded their impact since then. Jokesters now have far more outlets on cable TV and web-based channels. Their routines are featured on popular portals such as Politico and archived on sites like YouTube. And the best lines go viral on social media. My students don’t have to watch Jon Stewart live, they just go to their Facebook pages or Twitter feeds and download the links their friends have posted.

These comics also play a second role: providing a platform (or a couch) for politicians to advance their images and ideas. The late-night scene has become a “mandatory stopover” on the campaign trail, and in 2008, presidential candidates appeared more than 100 times on these shows.

Their aim is the same as Nixon’s in 1968: to appear as “regular fellas” (or the female equivalent), to come across as “an average guy and a good sport.” The authors actually understate the importance of this point when they say that candidates on comedy shows appeal only to a “niche” audience of “politically inattentive” voters “that takes personality more seriously than partisanship and prioritizes likability over ideology.” My experience covering politics tells me that the audience for politicians on nonpolitical platforms is far from a “niche” group. Many voters value “likability” above any other quality.

That’s why Obama has appeared on so many different TV outlets, including daytime chat fests such as The View and Ellen and sporting events such as the Super Bowl. All of these venues give him a chance to tell stories, to promote his personality, to send the message: “I’m just like you.”

During the last campaign, Romney refused to go on most late-night shows “because he believed he would be stepping into a hostile environment.” Obama occupied every couch he could find. And exit polls showed the president running 10 points ahead of his challenger on the critical question, “Who is more in touch with people like you?”

The road to the White House might not run through the late-night comics. But you can see it clearly from their studios.

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Sep 152014
 

wallstreetjournal

By Jonathan Clegg

Updated Sept. 14, 2014

It was supposed to be a snoozer of a weekend in college football.

When we looked over the schedule for the third weekend of the season, it appeared utterly devoid of drama, one of those early-season Saturdays featuring lame nonconference matchups, manufactured rivalry games and powerhouse schools feasting on cream puffs. Eight of the top 25 teams in the country weren’t even in action.

UCLA quarterback Jerry Neuheisel is carried off the field after UCLA’s 20-17 win over Texas. Associated Press

It was enough to make us think about ignoring Saturday’s drudgery altogether in favor of something more stimulating, like finally fixing up those shoe racks from the Container Store. TCS -1.06%

But somewhere along the line, something all too familiar occurred. This dud of a weekend somehow turned into a doozy. By the time it was done, four ranked teams had stumbled to upset losses, the number of unbeatens dwindled and we had been totally captivated for 12 straight hours.

So much for a letdown weekend. This was exhausting, agonizing, brilliant and heartbreaking. And that was just Florida’s triple-overtime win over Kentucky.

purplearrowBefore the first quarter of the opening games had expired, Virginia Tech had already fallen behind by three touchdowns at home to East Carolina. The Hokies, tipped as a trendy playoff contender after last week’s upset of Ohio State, managed to tie it up late but still couldn’t escape, going down 28-21, after giving up a 65-yard touchdown drive in the final minute.

By that stage, we were sucked in as the upsets kept coming. Virginia forced four turnovers to shock Bobby Petrino and No. 21 Louisville. Hours later, in the biggest stunner of the season so far, Boston College knocked off No. 9 Southern California, holding the heavily-favored Trojans to a pitiful 20 rushing yards.

It wasn’t only the carnage in the top 25 that kept us enthralled. We hadn’t been all that excited about Rutgers’ introduction to Big Ten conference play. Frankly, we weren’t all that excited about Rutgers’ introduction to the Big Ten conference altogether. But excuse us if we weren’t transfixed by the gripping spectacle as the Scarlet Knights narrowly fell to Penn State in a 13-10 nail-biter.

Then there were the plain-old great games between teams outside the spotlight, like the back-and-forth battle in which West Virginia topped Maryland 40-37 on a last-second field goal. Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen was so excited that he almost called a run play.

If there’s one takeaway from all this, it’s don’t plan to assemble a shoe rack on a college football Saturday. But if there’s a broader point to be made here, it’s about college football’s remarkable capacity to entertain us despite itself.

Despite the lousy matchups and cupcake opponents that fill its opening weeks, the craven realignment that has upended the sport in recent years and all the pressing issues that confront the college game, it still serves up great entertainment—even when we least expect it. Or especially when we least expect it.

That is not to say that all the excitement on this volatile weekend caught us by surprise. We were pretty sure South Carolina and Georgia would produce some electricity even before the game was subject to a lightning delay. When kickoff finally rolled around, it duly lived up to the hype.

Even the shambolic ending was oddly compelling. On a fourth-and-inches call with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter, Gamecocks quarterback Dylan Thompson lined up under center, took the snap and plunged forward before being buried under a mammoth clump of 300-pound linemen.

We were then treated to one of the most fundamentally flawed and maddeningly imprecise episodes in all of sports as the officials attempted to gauge the location of the ball. With no clear view and after much debate, it was arbitrarily spotted at the halfway line, whereupon the officials brought out the chains and painstakingly proceeded to measure this inexact spot. The tip of the ball was a hair across the line and the Gamecocks had a first down. Game over. South Carolina wins. Those of us watching at home, meanwhile, felt completely bemused.

“No one had a good vantage point,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt. “Even from where I was standing, it was such a big scrum, it’s really hard to tell unless you have some type of gadget on the ball. Maybe we could put a GPS system on it?”

Needless to say, had Alabama dropped a game in similar circumstances, their fans would’ve developed a prototype by Sunday morning.

Even at this point, the unexpected thrills weren’t finished.

Having lost star quarterback Brett Hundley to an early injury, career backup Jerry Neuheisel came off the bench for UCLA and tossed a late touchdown pass to lead the Bruins to a come-from-behind win in their primetime matchup with Texas.

In a joyful moment, Neuheisel was carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates. The most touching scene came hours later, however, when a video surfaced showing his father, former Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel, watching the dramatic comeback in a backroom TV studio, where he was working as an analyst.

“Come on, Jer! Come on, kid!” Neuheisel repeated, as he paced up down in front of the screen, before proudly punching the air as the game concluded. Turning to his colleagues, he beamed: “How about that?”

How about that. It was that sort of weekend.

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Sep 152014
 

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September 14, 2014

Dental students prepare

Most people dread root canals and tooth extractions, crowns and dental fillings. But fourth-year students in East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine have been looking forward to those procedures for three years.

“I was the kid that loved to go to the dentist,” Brooke Burnette, a Chocowinity native and member of ECU’s first class of dental students, said. “I know that’s pretty rare. I wanted a career where I could give back…and see people smile again.”

Burnette and the other members of her class left Greenville this fall to engage in applied learning at ECU dental community service learning centers built and staffed in rural, underserved areas across the state.

ECU is pioneering this new model for training dental students. Each will complete eight-week rotations at three different clinics as part of their final year of study.

“This is more than just drilling and filling,” Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the School of Dental Medicine, said. “They’re developing an understanding about people across the state — why they might not have access to care, why they might not hold oral health as a high priority.”

Rebecca Ferguson was only in Sylva for three weeks before she noticed the difference between practicing dental medicine in Greenville and at the mountain clinic. “It’s a totally different patient population,” the Waynesville native said. “There’s definitely a demand and a need (for dental care in western North Carolina).”

Other students agreed it is not uncommon to see patients at the clinics come in with pain, rather than for preventive care.

There also are day-to-day operational differences for the students. During their third year in ECU’s Ross Hall — where the dental school is housed — the average day consisted of a mix of coursework and care for about two patients. Now their days are spent treating twice that many patients, on average.

“I had to figure out how to be more efficient,” Burnette said of her rotation at the Ahoskie clinic.

ECU faculty dentists working alongside the students at each location support their transition to the clinic.

“You get one-on-one teaching for all aspects of dentistry,” student Jeremy Hyder, a Hickory native on rotation in Elizabeth City, said. “It’s a unique experience that I don’t think a lot of other dental students — if any — get to have.”

Additionally, the students all are acting as informal ambassadors from ECU and its dental school. Their presence helps attract patients to the clinics. Arriagada said he and his classmates are often stopped as they run errands in their scrubs. People are curious about who they are and why they have come to their community, he said.

“Eventually, we’ll be on roller skates going from patient to patient,” Arriagada said laughing. “We’re offering affordable care and that’s going to be a huge benefit to these communities.”

The students said they too are benefiting.

“I was expecting to enjoy it, but it definitely lived up to (my expectations) and surpassed them,” Hyder said. “It’s what life will be like after graduation.”

“Even after the first week, you could see the students’ excitement,” Chadwick said. “I hope that every class continues to have an even better experience than the class before them.”

Professors publish political humor book

Two ECU professors have written “Politics is a Joke!: How TV Comedians are Remaking Political Life,” a new book which explains how late night talk shows have influenced the success of politicians.

Written over the course of two years by Jody Baumgartner and Jonathan Morris from ECU’s political science department, and S. Robert Lichter, professor of communication at George Mason University, the book was published on July 22.

“The primary late night talk show hosts that we’re talking about are Jay Leno, David Letterman, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. We didn’t set out to restrict ourselves to them, but for the past decade, they have been the major players,” Baumgartner said.

The data for the book has been collected since 1988 from the Center for Media Public Affairs (CMPA), of which Lichter is the director.

“(The CMPA) has been collecting jokes from late night comedy programs and classifying them by who the joke was targeted at or who said the joke. We used that information, which was over 100,000 jokes,” said Morris.

Baumgartner, who read through the 100,000 jokes, was responsible for selecting which ones to put into the book. “It was tough,” he said, but he managed to narrow the jokes down to about 200.

“Presidents are the most frequent targets of late night comedians. Again, no surprise, but the data shows this.” Baumgartner said. Morris added that former President Bill Clinton is, by far, the most joked about politician within the past two decades.

Morris and Baumgartner came up with the idea to research humor and politics while they were driving to a conference together in 2004.

“We have been studying it ever since,” Morris said.

“We’re hoping to reach a more general audience with this book, but also have it accessible to our colleagues who study political humor to use it as reference,” said Morris. “People who have read the book keep saying that they skip through our analysis and go straight to the jokes.”

Morris and Baumgartner plan to write another book together focusing on humor from a psychological perspective.

Upcoming events

  • Monday and Tuesday: The ECU Ceramics Guild hosts Bulldog Pottery’s Samantha Henneke and Bruce Gholson for a two-day workshop on ceramics. Free and open to the public. No reservations required. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Jenkins Fine Arts Center, Room 102.
  • Monday and Tuesday: Auditions for “The Little Prince,” the classic tale by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, will take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in ECU’s Messick Hall, Room 206. A sign-up sheet will be available prior to auditions, as well as sides and character descriptions. A copy of the script is currently available in Messick Hall, Room 107.
  • Wednesday: A symposium to discuss the crisis in Ukraine and its implications, featuring experts from ECU’s College of Arts & Sciences. Free and open to the public. No reservations required. 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at ECU’s Bate Building, Room 1031.
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Sep 152014
 

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Barbara Campbell, Frances Flowers, Cathy Laney and Debbie Steinmetz of East Carolina University Business Services recently were honored as Treasured Pirate Award recipients. The award recognizes employees for their exemplary efforts in several categories.

Campbell received the Treasured Pirate Award for outstanding delivery of service. For the past seven years, she has served as executive assistant to Scott Buck, associate vice chancellor for administration and finance-business services.

“She is helpful and supportive, always patient and willing to go the extra mile to help others,” Buck said. “She is a tremendous asset to Business Services, not just for all that she does to keep the directors straight, but to keep our unit heading in the right direction.”

Campbell graduated from N.C. State University in 1982 with a bachelor of science degree in textile management and earned her master’s of business administration degree from American InterContinental University in 2003.

Flowers is ProCard manager and purchasing specialist with the Department of Materials Management. She received the Treasured Pirate Award for display of initiative.

“Frances is always throwing out new ideas,” Kevin Carraway, director of materials management, said. “She attends seminars and conferences to learn what others in our system are doing and researches to see what would be helpful to our department and university. She constantly has new systems to learn and always takes these on with a good attitude.”

Flowers has been with Materials Management since February 2009. She is responsible for enforcing ECU and State of North Carolina policies and procedures, as well as developing and conducting training classes, performing audits, and fraud/dispute detection and reporting. She also serves as the Bank of America liaison.

Flowers is a 2005 ECU graduate with bachelor of science degrees in family and consumer sciences education and community services.

Laney received the Treasured Pirate award for cost-effectiveness. As the accountant for Business Services, she is responsible for financial reporting, budgetary records and advising auxiliary services departments within the unit.

“Cathy is always finding ways to save our Business Services departments money and resources,” Buck said. “She has been especially valuable with the recent budget cuts, increased competition and other challenges.”

Laney earned an associate degree in accounting from Pitt Community College in 1994 and completed the combined degree program in accounting from ECU in 2002 (master of science in accounting/bachelor of science in accounting).

Laney came to Business Services in 2013 from Financial Services at ECU, where she spent nine years as accountant for institutional trust funds.

Steinmetz received the Treasured Pirate Award for outstanding delivery of service. She was named ProCard assistant manager in February 2013 and is responsible for auditing ProCard statements, entering violations into the data base and filing statements.

“Debbie is doing a fantastic job with ProCard and also fills in as needed in her former position of cutting purchase orders,” Carraway said. “Because of her willingness to help out, we are able to offer flex time to others, and we always have coverage.”

A Washington, N.C., native, Steinmetz has spent her entire career at ECU. She started at the student store in 1985, then moved to the School of Medicine. In 2003, she joined the Materials Management staff.

All Treasured Pirate Award recipients receive a certificate, a Treasured Pirate pin and a gift of their choice.

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Sep 152014
 

reflector1

September 13, 2014

Hank Redecker Jr., passed away Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, at Transitions LifeCare, Raleigh. He leaves behind his loving wife, Moneta “Mo” Redecker and his two beautiful daughters, Bailey and Emily Redecker, who loved him more than anything. He will forever be in their hearts.

Hank was born Oct. 14, 1961 to Henry Walter Redecker (deceased) and Christine Blalock Redecker of Raleigh. He is survived by two sisters, Joan Sims and Jane Speer and her husband, Jim; along with his nieces and nephews.

Hank graduated from Ravens Groft, Raleigh, in 1980; and as an ECU alumni lived the “Pirate’s Life” as a member of the Pirate Club; with his love of family, friends, football, tailgating and all that is ECU! While a student at ECU, he earned a BA in Sociology, July 25, 1985 and a MBA, May 10, 1997. A member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity resulted in a group of close lifelong friends. Over the years, with Hank’s “bigger than life” personality, he added many others to his circle of friends in addition to his fraternity brothers. Hank often mentioned how fortunate he was to have such great friends.

His family would like to thank the Doctors and Staff at Duke/Raleigh Hospital and especially Hank’s Hospice Nurse, Glenda. Glenda is a wonderful, kind, special person, who was a perfect match for Hank’s personality.

All of those who love Hank and his family are invited to dress in purple and gold for an “ECU tailgate” celebration of Hank’s life at the Boondocks, 201 East Main Street, Youngsville, Sunday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Come prepared to share your memories, stories, and love of Hank.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donation in Hanks memory be made to either Transitions LifeCare, 250 Hospice Circle, Raleigh, NC 27607 or the ECU Pirate’s Club, Ward Sports Medicine Building, Greenville, NC 27858.

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Sep 152014
 

newsobserver4-e1380198214776

By Brian Haines
September 15, 2014

GREENVILLE — In the final round of East Carolina’s heavyweight bout with No. 17 Virginia Tech on Saturday, the Pirates found themselves with their back pressed firmly against the ropes as the Hokies landed a flurry of blows.

The last one appeared to be knockout punch. The Pirates, who lead 21-7 at halftime, where reeling in the second half, mired in the midst of a scoring drought that spanned nearly three quarters and 10 possessions as Virginia Tech wiped out a 14-point, second-half deficit.

The Hokies, who seemed to get stronger as the game wore on, landed a haymaker when Michael Brewer connected with a wide-open Cam Phillips for an 18-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 21 with 1 minute, 20 seconds left.

The crowd of 63,267 at Lane Stadium/Worsham Field smelled blood as history seemed destined to repeat itself. Ruffin McNeill had faced Virginia Tech three times and never trailed at halftime but had never beaten the Hokies in his first four years as East Carolina’s coach.

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East Carolina wide receiver Isaiah Jones (7) celebrate after the Pirates’ 28-21 win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. MICHAEL SHROYER — Getty Images

Yet somehow the Pirates managed to stay upright. They sprung off the ropes like Muhammad Ali in his prime and retaliated with a three-play, 65-yard touchdown drive to KO Virginia Tech with 16 seconds remaining.

Quarterback Shane Carden led his team to the 1, where he received the snap and bounced to his left to cement a 28-21 victory.

Carden, who in last year’s clash with Virginia Tech was intercepted three times and held to 158 yards, bucked the Pirates recent trend of folding against the Hokies with a 427-yard, three-touchdown performance.

The victory spoke volumes about East Carolina’s resolve.

“I think it goes back to belief in the commitment to the team,” McNeill said. “If you believe, you don’t waver when it goes bad.”

The touchdown didn’t just rescue East Carolina (2-1), it resuscitated the Pirates’ hopes of playing in a major bowl.

Under the new College Football Playoff structure, one team from the Group of Five (American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt) will be picked by a selection committee to play in one of six major bowls.

Coming off a 33-23 road loss to then-ranked No. 21 South Carolina, a second defeat at the hands of a Power Five opponent surely would have dropped the Pirates from big-time bowl consideration.

“I’m proud of our team and staff,” McNeill said. “We had a tough loss at South Carolina. Coming back having to play another power away in a hostile venue was tough, and I’m proud of our kids because we’ve been talking about the commitment since Day One.

“To be able to see it grow in front of you is a beautiful thing to watch. That was a great win for our players.”

The victory against a No. 17 Virginia Tech (2-1) team that just a week earlier beat then-No. 8 Ohio State 35-21, was big. Couple that with ECU playing statistically even with South Carolina, which beat No. 6 Georgia 38-35 Saturday, and that not only keeps the Pirates’ lofty goals alive, but should give them added momentum as they prepare to face in-state rival North Carolina (2-0).

A victory vs. the Tar Heels would propel ECU forward into its first AAC game, which will come Oct. 4 at home against Southern Methodist.

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