At the beginning of the 2014 East Carolina football season, Todd Owens of purplepirateplunder.com asked me if I would photograph on the sidelines of an ECU football game and get some images for his blog. So, I emailed a few people who knew a few people and managed to procure media credentials for the November 22nd game against the Tulane Green Wave.
This game was Military Appreciation Day and the festivities started with two skydivers, one with a giant American flag and the other with the game ball, landing on the 50 yard line. Emerging from a giant pirate skull filled with purple smoke and Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” blasting over the loud speakers, the team is preceded onto the field by Steve Whetzel, a professional pirate actor, who raises his cutlass and sword to signal the procession. First, head coach Ruffin McNeil comes out, followed by flag wielding players. Now with the crowd worked into a frenzy, we are ready for some football!
The entire first half of the game was spent paying very close attention to one player, Justin Hardy. Justin started the game only needing 4 catches to break the FBS record of Ryan Broyles’ 349 career receptions. After Justin, #2, caught the 3rd pass, I positioned myself to take the photo that is the feature image for the article. Out of all the shots that I missed or were out of focus, I am so glad that I was prepared and ready for this shot. It’s truly a historic moment, considering that ECU still has two more games left in the season, not to mention a possible bowl appearance. Hardy is well on his way to setting a reception record that will stand for a long time to come.
The rest of the game was spent trying to catch as many moments as I could. I spent most of my time behind the end zone or at the line of scrimmage. I found that the end zone was the best spot to photograph players facing you. The side lines were more difficult because you couldn’t photograph near the center of the field, only the 20 yard line or less. If a play was along your side of the field, often you weren’t able to even see the action, mostly because of the officials or players and coaches standing along the sides.
Another highlight of the evening was right after the game, when the players were walking off the field. I saw Breon Allen and Jimmy Williams walking together and asked if I could take their photo. I was taking a few shots when a few more players jumped in. Before I knew it, Isaiah Jones, Jordan Williams, Jacen Murphy, Davon Grayson, Fred Presley and Detric Allen jumped in and started hamming it up. What a perfect game. ECU 34, Tulane 6.