NC State’s Drake Thomas is the highest-rated returning linebacker in college football

The soccer rivalry between NC State and East Carolina has been a rollercoaster ride since it began in 1970. After the two schools first met on October 10, 1970, and the Wolfpack at Finley Stadium, they played each year from 1970 to 1987, winning 12 of the 18 competitions. All 18 of those games were played in Raleigh.

Things got dramatic in 1987, leading to then-NC State Athletics Director Jim Valvano suspending the Wolfpack from scheduling future games against the Pirates.

What happened?

After East Carolina defeated NC State 32-14 at Carter-Finley in 1987, Pirates fans stormed the field and tore down one of the goalposts.

Lo and behold, 5 years later, as fate would have it, the two teams were chosen to face off in the 1992 Peach Bowl. These two teams have faced each other 31 times since 1970, but the Peach Bowl was and remains the only time the two teams were ranked in the top-25 when they faced each other. NC State placed 21st and ECU placed 12th. Pirates quarterback Jeff Blake came through on the Wolfpack defense that day, throwing for 378 yards and 3 touchdowns and leading ECU to a 37-34 win.

Things got political after that when the North Carolina senators from the eastern part of the state forced the issue to overturn Jimmy V’s suspension of the rivalry and they were successful.

The first step was to face each other in neutral territory due to concerns that neither Raleigh nor Greenville might be able to handle the emotions of the reunion. Carolina Panthers Stadium in Charlotte was chosen as the neutral venue for the 1996 matchup, which was the first regular-season game between the two schools since 1987. 66,347 fans turned out to watch the Pirates defeat the Wolfpack 50-29 for the third straight loss for the boys in Red & White of the series.

In 1997, the rivalry game was played at a non-neutral venue for the first time in ten years, with NC State ending ECU’s 3-game winning streak and defeating the Pirates 37-24 at Carter-Finley.

The pirates’ flare-up for the drama and obsession with goalposts at Carter-Finley resurfaced in 1999. That year, Greenville was devastated by flooding from Hurricane Floyd, and the state of NC granted ECU in good faith to host #9 Miami at Carter-Finley on September 25th. The Pirates shocked the world by defeating the Hurricanes 27-23 and wouldn’t you know, the purple and gold fans stormed the field and this time they ripped down both goal posts at Carter Finley Stadium.

To add salt to the wound, ECU defeated NC State in Greenville 23-6 in their last regular season game of 1999.

Five years later the two would play each other again in Charlotte, this time the Wolfpack would convincingly defeat the Pirates 52-14.

Since 2004, the two national rivals have played each other a total of 8 times in Raleigh or Greenville, with each team winning 4 times.

Beginning in 2007, the Student Government Associations of both schools began awarding the Victory Barrel to the winner of the game. The barrel has engraved colored plates from every match in the history of the rivalry. Winner gets to keep the keg, and it has had a home in Raleigh since 2018 after the Wolfpack defeated the Pirates 58-3, followed by another loss in 2019 that saw the Boys in Purple and Gold go 34-6 were defeated in 2019.

I expect NC State to beat East Carolina on September 3rd. I expect the wolf pack to retain possession of the Victory Barrel. I also assume that NC State fans will see no reason to enter Dowdy Ficklen Stadium and put a finger on one of their goalposts.

Series NC State vs. East Carolina

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