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Pirates Pull The Upset: East Carolina 35, Virginia Tech 28

Pulling off their second straight win over Virginia Tech and yet another win over the ACC, the East Carolina Pirates proved to the world that they are not yet dead.

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Surviving what may be one of the worst starts to a game in school history, the East Carolina Pirates defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies 35-28 Saturday afternoon.

The MVP of the game should go to a combination of the coaching staff and backup quarterback James Summers. Head coach Ruffin McNeill made the bold move of putting Summers in at quarterback in a tied football game paid off in spades for the Pirates.

Blake Kemp, the starter going into the game, was terrible in his first two possessions. On the second offensive play of the game, Kemp was intercepted by Greg Stroman. Six plays later, the Hokies were up 7-0. On the second drive, Kemp fumbled the football with Mook Reynolds recovering for the Hokies at the ECU 19. Again, six plays later, the Hokies were again in the Pirates end zone to take a very quick 14-0 lead.

The junior quarterback rebounded with back-to-back scoring drives of 60 and 61 yards to tie the game at 14 after one quarter of action. Kemp ended his day with 118 yards passing on 9-12 passing.

After the second touchdown drive, the ECU coaching staff decided due to the monsoon-like playing conditions, it was time to go with Summers. The Pirates immediately drove 77 yards on eight plays, with Summers breaking loose for 44 yards on the ground. The JUCO transfer took the ball in from five yards out to give ECU a 21-14 lead. At the half, ECU led 21-14.

The Pirates defense, excellent since the opening two drives of the game, stuffed Virginia Tech on a three-and-out to start the half. ECU took over at their own 47-yard line. Six plays later, Summers found leading receiver Isaiah Jones for a 26-yard touchdown pass to give East Carolina a 28-14 lead.

Virginia Tech, outscored 21-0 since a hot start to the game, finally got their offense working again with a 9-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a Sam Rogers two-yard touchdown run. With the extra point, the Pirates lead was cut to 28-21.

Summers, bringing a new dimension to the ECU offense, again shredded the Hokies defense with a 12-yard run, a 17-yard pass to Quay Johnson, and finally, a 41-yard scamper into the end zone to put the Pirates back up by 14 points at 35-21 with 3:43 left in the third quarter. The Hokies again answered the bell versus ECU with a 95 yard drive that only took 3:09 of game time to pull within 35-28 with 8:18 left in the game.

Virginia Tech had two final chances to tie the game. The first chance saw them get the ball at their own four yard line with just over four minutes left on the clock. The Hokies drove as far as their own 40-yard line before failing to convert a fourth-and-two. With an incompletion on fourth down, the Hokies gave the ball back to East Carolina with 1:47 left on the clock.

Summers and company were unable to earn a game clinching first down, giving the ball back to Virginia Tech at their own six-yard line with :58 left on the clock for one last ditch effort. The Pirates defense, led by middle linebacker Zeek Bigger, made one final stop to pull out the 35-28 upset win.