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Daffer causes disappointed Pirate fans

THURS.| 10-27-22 | SPORTS

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     Owen Daffer, kicker for East Carolina University (ECU), a name that went from football star to being one of the biggest disappointments in Greenville. On Nov. 20, 2021, Daffer made the longest kick of his career at 54 yards to beat Navy in the final seconds, becoming a hero amongst Pirate fans. Coming into this year, big expectations were held for Daffer and the Pirates. However, this season Daffer holds a 66.3 percent make rate compared to his rating of 82.6 last season.

     Starting the 2022 season off with the number 13th-ranked team, North Carolina State University (Wolfpack), the Pirates were faced with a big challenge. This was the biggest game ECU has had since the Wolfpack was last in Greenville. The Wolfpack were the clear favorites coming into the game and were favored by 11 points so the NCAA committee, nor myself, had much faith in the Pirates to pull off a win. The Pirates were led by senior quarterback Holton Ahlers and ready to try and shock the college football community in week one with a victory over Wolfpack.

     Kickoff began and the Pirates came out hot, scoring a touchdown in the first seven minutes to go up 7-0. Daffer made the extra point but this was one of the few he made in the game. Later in the game, the Pirates trailed by seven, but Ahlers led them down the field and scored six to make it a one-point game. Daffer then trotted onto the field to kick, in an attempt to tie the game. Daffer missed wide left causing the Pirates to remain behind by one point. This led to the Wolfpack holding the lead late into the fourth quarter but after a quick stop by the Pirate's defense, who had played well the whole game.  However, the Pirate's offense was right back on the field ready to complete a game-winning drive.

     The Pirates marched down the field once again, and with one second left on the clock, Daffer lined up for the game-winning field goal. The whole stadium was on their feet, Daffer ran back out to redeem himself and win the game against the 13th-ranked team in the country. The ball was snapped, the hold was good and once again Daffer let the stadium down, pushing the kick right. 

     Daffer is a 19-year-old innocent teenager who received hate and even death threats over one missed kick. In reality, he did not deserve the treatment he was getting over a football game. A police officer had to stay outside of Daffers house, just to make sure he was not harmed over two missed kicks. 

     A couple of weeks rolled around and Daffer and the Pirates took on Navy, the team that Daffer made his longest career kick against last year. Hopes were high that he could redeem himself in this game and that NC State was just a fluke. Once again, the Pirates had a close game. Overtime began and the Pirates possessed the ball only to get stopped on a third downplay in the red zone. On came Daffer to try to repeat history and walk it off on Navy. 

     I'm sure the only thing going through Daffer’s head was that if he were to mess up again, he's done. Mental health was surely taking a toll on Daffer as well as all the backlash he was receiving. The ball was snapped, the kick went up, and once again broke left for Daffer. He missed again and let down himself, and Pirate fans.
     With plenty of weeks left of college football season, Daffer has yet to be benched and will continue to kick for the Pirates. I and all of Pirate nation want Daffer to succeed, and with the potential of the Pirates going to a bowl game, Daffer may turn around and surprise us as he did his freshman season.

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