This weekend in Greenville, North Carolina, the Virginia Tech Hokies and the East Carolina Pirates will meet for the 22nd
time in the all-time series. The two have played each other annually since 2007, except in 2012, and have provided some close games over the years.
If one thing can be said about these two teams, it’s that the game always tends to be close year in and year out, despite what the experts might be saying.
For many Hokie fans, East Carolina has been a team Virginia Tech has struggled with in the past. In the last three meetings, the Pirates have taken two despite a 54-17 Hokies victory in Blacksburg a season ago. Virginia Tech fans remember well the 28-21 home loss in 2014 following the Ohio State upset and then a 35-28 loss at Dowdy-Ficklen stadium in 2015. Both of those games have featured plenty of talent on both teams.
“ECU’s offense has had a lot of future pro talent on that side of the ball (Chris Johnson, Justin Hardy, Zay Jones). The counterpart to that has been the VT defense. That is why the games, for the most part, have been entertaining. Much like boxer vs boxer, counter punching,” said ECU alumnus, Jeff Betcher, who attends most home games.
East Carolina fans treat this game as one of their biggest, if not the biggest, games of the year. For home games this season at ECU, the price of one ticket doesn’t go above $29 dollars (BYU) while the lowest price is $11 dollars (Tulane). For the Virginia Tech game, it starts from $45 dollars and up.
An East Carolina favored website, piratewear.com, sells a “Beat Virginia Tech” shirt on their website that can be worn to the match-up. It has also been seen being sold at a location on campus at ECU.
Given the results of the meetings over the past decade and how close the games typically are, it begs the question: Is East Carolina/Virginia Tech a rivalry?
“I definitely feel it has become a rivalry,” said Betcher. “All you have to look at is how many fans on both sides travel for the away games. It is a game that I circle as a must see.”
The Virginia Tech-East Carolina game in 2015 was the fourth largest attended football game in Dowdy-Ficklen stadium history as 50,514 people attended the game. The stadium only sits 50,000 people. The only games to have received a bigger turnout was against North Carolina State and North Carolina.
Bud Foster is someone who knows a lot about the two teams' history against one another. He has been involved with plenty of East Carolina/Virginia Tech games throughout his career as the Hokies' defensive coordinator. He said at his press conference Tuesday that he has a lot of respect for the Pirate program. Foster also recognizes the position ECU is in, sitting at 0-2 on the season.
“It’s always been a tough and hard-fought game. They are going to be like a dog backed up in the corner so to speak. It’s always been a hornets’ nest going down there, but you got a group that’s backed up against the wall so to speak. I think they will come out and be ready to play,” said Foster.
With ECU looking for their first victory of the season, you can count on Justin Fuente having his group mentally prepared and focused to play in a hostile environment come Saturday. Regardless of the outcome, Pirates and Hokies fans can expect more clashes between the two as they’re scheduled to play every year until 2021, where the series will take a one-year break, and the continue on from 2022 to 2026.
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