Montgomery proves head coaching mettle in NC State win

In second game ever as a head coach, Montgomery silences critics against Wolfpack.

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
East Carolina Pirates head coach Scottie Montgomery hugs his players after the college football game against North Carolina State at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville

GREENVILLE, N.C. — It didn’t take long for Scottie Montgomery to make waves in the state of North Carolina. The former Duke offensive coordinator pushed all the right buttons against NC State, coming away with a 33-30 victory in the in-state rivalry.Despite facing a four-point deficit with less than six minutes remaining, Montgomery stayed the course. With 5:49 left, Anthony Scott punched in a rushing touchdown from five yards out to give the Pirates the lead for good.”That is team football,” Montgomery said following the win. “You are going to have some bad plays, gave up some bad plays early in the game. … But when we got to the fourth quarter, our guys really worked well together.”After scoring 12 unanswered points to start the game, the Pirates were put on their heels in the second quarter. Three touchdowns for NC State gave the Wolfpack a 20-19 lead heading into the half.Rather than crumbling in the second half, ECU rallied behind its quarterback play. Philip Nelson thrived in Montgomery’s offense, finishing 33-of-43 for 297 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. When Nelson was off the field, it was James Summers who rushed for 41 yards and two touchdowns.Dave Doeren, who coached his 68th game of his head coaching career Saturday, was simply out-coached by Montgomery in his second. Penalties and miscues — including two missed field goals and eight flags for 54 yards — left Doeren with a 1-1 record heading back to Raleigh.”There were a lot of them,” Doeren said of the missed opportunities. “The wide open wheel-rocker that we had down the sideline was a touchdown. Two field goals that we’ve gone over and over in practice. If you have one of the two, that’s overtime. That’s points off the board.”While State’s players missed chances to win the game, so did its coaching staff. A fake field goal attempt left the Wolfpack with nothing on a solid drive. Throwing the ball across the middle of the field with 51 seconds remaining and no timeouts left on the final attempt. Both were decisions that ultimately propelled East Carolina to a third straight victory over NC State.But probably the most befuddling move was a two-point attempt with a gimmicky play that was easily snuffed out by the Pirates. That play came after NC State took the lead, 13-12, in the second quarter. Doeren vouched for his coaching staff after the game.”It’s something that [offensive line] coach [Dwayne] Ledford had done at Appalachian State and he runs that unit and we haven’t shown it,” he explained. “We knew that if we wound up in a kick that we’d have numbers and we did. They had two guys out there and we had three. If we catch that, then we walk in and we get two points. “I think it was a good play call. We just didn’t execute it.”Meanwhile, Montgomery led ECU back by limiting mistakes and mixing up his offense. Anthony Scott was a huge part of that offense, finishing with a receiving and rushing touchdown for the second straight game. He also compiled 90 total yards to put his season total at 300 for the year after two games. Scott had never put together a season with more than 300 yards in a season before this year.After earning his second straight win over an in-state opponent, Montgomery remains undefeated as a head coach. He did so in front of a sellout crowd of 50,719 fans — the seventh most in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium history. Before he left the media room, the first-year coach soaked it all in.”It is a grand day,” Montgomery said. “I don’t think anybody but Pirate Nation knew what this was going to be like. It was hot out here. Our fans didn’t go anywhere. They were rowdy, they got here early this morning. We couldn’t even get down Charles Street. It is going to be a great day.”