Once a Pirate, always a Pirate — and this sentiment is never more true than during East Carolina’s homecoming weekend.

Back in 1976, ECU kicked off its celebration with a parade through downtown Greenville. Cheerleaders waved to the crowd, the marching band filled the streets with music and colorful floats urged the football team to crush Western Carolina University — the Pirate’s football rival of the day.

When the game got rolling, a record crowd of 21,506 was on hand to cheer on East Carolina.

But Western was not going down without a fight.

The Catamounts held the Pirates in check for most of the first period, until ECU broke away and got its first touchdown with just seven seconds left. Mike Weaver wove his way into the end zone for a touchdown.

ECU’s Pete Conley came into the game in the second period to lead the way to another score.

Western kept fighting, however. And the Catamounts got moving.

After a 37-yard field goal in the final seconds of the half, the WCU came back to score two touchdowns and grab the lead.

Conley returned to the game, leading an 80-yard drive the put the Pirates in the lead again. Later, Conley finished off Western with a 24-yard field goal — his 13th of the year and 15th in his career.

The rally allowed the Pirates to nip by Western, winning 24-17 in front of the capacity crowd.

The win was part of a stellar football season for ECU — coach Pat Dye led the team to nine victories in the 1976 season, and the Pirates went on to become the Southern Conference Champions.

Back in the Day is regular Saturday feature produced from The Daily Reflector archives.