GREENVILLE — Damon Magazu added another memorable play to his East Carolina football legacy Saturday, and in keeping with many of the others, it came at an opportune time.
The Pirates were trying to stage one final stand in the fourth quarter against host Middle Tennessee to give the ECU offense a chance to finish out a 24-17 victory. Magazu provided that chance in his usual dramatic fashion.
The 5-foot-11, 204-pound free safety from Charlotte Providence broke on a high pass from Blue Raiders quarterback Logan Kilgore and – roughly 20 yards down the field from his initial position – Magazu lurched and snared the ball before sliding and somersaulting forward.
“We were playing cover 3 (zone defense) and when I saw (Kilgore’s) hand go up, I just broke on the ball and I guess I got lucky on the catch,” said Magazu, whose first interception this season put the Pirates’ offense back on the field to stay.
Lucky is a modest way of describing it.
Magazu has mostly delivered his seven career INTs at critical junctures in games, including his game-winning overtime interception against N.C. State as a freshman in 2010 and his interception while falling out of the back of the end zone against Virginia Tech the following season.
“When the plays come to you, you’ve got to make them,” said Magazu, whose 11 tackles against the Raiders pushed his team-high season total to 37. “You can’t force anything. There are some games where I might not have a tackle or a pass breakup or anything because maybe something didn’t come my way. As long as you don’t force plays, they’ll come your way.”
East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill said Magazu’s performance was possibly the best of any Pirate on Saturday, and the coach indicated it was even better than the official stats showed.
“I thought Damon Magazu had a Conference (USA) player of the week game,” McNeill said. “Fifteen (tackles) by our count, and that’s what I go by, and a big-time interception.”
Magazu credited coordinator Rick Smith for putting him in the right position. The halftime changes employed by his coaches are what Magazu said reversed the defense’s fortunes.
“(Middle Tennessee) came out with a different game plan offensively than what we were expecting, and coach Smith and the whole defensive staff did a great job of adjusting to what they were doing,” Magazu said. “The defensive players trusted what was being called, and we continued to run to the ball.”
Receivers suspended: Junior Danny Webster and redshirt freshman Quataye Smyre have been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team policy, McNeill said in a school release.
Webster has started four of five games this season and is the Pirates’ third-leading receiver with 18 catches for 144 yards. Smyre played in the past two games and has three catches for 19 yards.