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Veteran McGhin on Ahlers' blind side

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East Carolina's Holton Ahlers, top, is lifted up by Garrett McGhin after Ahlers scored a 49-yard touchdown run against Old Dominion on Sept. 29.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Saturday night will serve as the first-career start at East Carolina for true freshman quarterback Holton Ahlers, a Greenville native, and it will be the 29th for senior right tackle Garrett McGhin.

Ahlers is left-handed, which puts the right tackle McGhin in charge of protecting the rookie’s blind side.

Opposing McGhin, a team captain and 6-foot-6, 302-pounder from Tallahassee, Fla., Ahlers and the rest of the Pirates will be 10th-ranked Central Florida (6-0, 3-0 American Athletic Conference). The 7 p.m. game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will be broadcast on ESPN2, only adding to the spotlight on the quarterback and ECU (2-4, 0-3).

“Mine was Western Carolina at home, 2016, and honestly I remember the night before just going through my playbook and I couldn’t sleep and I was on edge,” McGhin said of his first start with the Pirates. “At the end of the day, that is something you dream about. It’s definitely a big deal for him and I know being a Greenville kid he has dreamt about this all his life, but at the end of the day, he is focusing on going out there and beating a top-10 team.

“What a hell of a way to start your career.”

Snapping the ball to Ahlers could be another true freshman, Peyton Winstead. He is the team’s backup center, and he relieved starter John Spellacy last week when Spellacy left the Houston game during the second half with an injury.

Spellacy did not practice Tuesday.

“Peyton is in there right now and he’s a freshman, so we are young,” offensive coordinator Tony Petersen said. “We need to get old and stay old, but we are not right now and that’s what we got. He’ll do a good job and we just have to get him ready to go this week.”

The 6-3, 236-pound Ahlers, a former three-sport standout at D.H. Conley, will enter the UCF game as the Pirates’ leading rusher with 248 yards and five touchdowns.

He had served as a short-yardage running specialist and backup to Reid Herring, who started ECU’s first six games.

“He isn’t fired up about it, and I wouldn’t be when I played,” Petersen said of Herring, a sophomore from Raleigh. “I told him that you are still one snap away from being the starting quarterback, and you have to approach it that way. It is going to take a few days to kind of get it out, because kids are kids and they want to be in there and be the guy.”

Head coach Scottie Montgomery and the Pirates reopened their QB competition last week between Herring, Ahlers and redshirt freshman Kingsley Ifedi. Herring started and threw two interceptions, along with losing a fumble, and Ifedi threw a third INT against the Cougars.

Ahlers led two touchdown drives during the fourth quarter, creating the final 42-20 score for a Houston win, and those drives helped seal his standing as the new starting quarterback.

His first-career TD pass was a 13-yard fade route to senior receiver Trevon Brown on fourth-and-3.

“I know that was a joy for him,” Brown said. “For me, it was about just building his confidence and showing him that he can play out here with these guys. He was a great athlete coming out of high school and now he is starting to really notice that he can come in and help this team.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

ECU

November 18, 2018

These three questions appeared in The Daily Reflector’s Pirate Gameday section previewing the Connecticut at East Carolina football game for ECU’s senior day. The favored Pirates cruised to a 55-21 win.

Here and the answers and more insight:

1. Which East Carolina running back gets the…

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November 17, 2018

Freshman quarterback Holton Ahlers dazzled again, ensuring that East Carolina’s football seniors had their time to celebrate during senior day at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

ECU got its expected and much-needed win Saturday night, stopping a five-game losing streak with a 55-21 victory over a…

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November 17, 2018

At 999 receiving yards for the season, East Carolina wide receiver Trevon Brown was looking for just one more to add consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to his college football resume.

The Pirates lined up midway through the second quarter on first-and-10 in their own territory. Holton Ahlers completed…

111818ECUFootball-8.jpg

November 17, 2018

These three questions appeared in The Daily Reflector’s Pirate Gameday section previewing the Connecticut at East Carolina football game for ECU’s senior day.

Check back after the 7 p.m. game (on CBS Sports Network) for the answers and more insight.

1. Which East Carolina running back…

093018ECUfootball-15.jpg

November 17, 2018

East Carolina and Connecticut are both starving for a football win, and one of the clubs is bound to achieve that feeling tonight inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Both teams are 0-6 in American Athletic Conference play. The Pirates (2-7 overall) have three games remaining and they are favored over the…

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November 17, 2018

Q: You are an emotional guy. Who else on the team gets really hyped and loud before games?

A: I definitely have to say D’Ante Smith and probably Matt Morgan on the offensive line. Matt is like my hype man. But as a whole (team), there really are guys across the board who get into it and get…

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November 16, 2018

East Carolina basketball was frigid from the field on Friday night at Georgia Tech, suffering a 79.54 setback to the Yellow Jackets after the Pirates shot a paltry 35.6 percent from the floor.

ECU (2-2) saw its record evened after a pathetic 2-for-17 showing from three-point range to go with a 10-…

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November 16, 2018

Southern Miss athletics director Jon Gilbert is potentially emerging as a lead candidate in East Carolina’s search for a new AD, although Southern Miss athletics spokesman Jack Duggan said Friday afternoon that he was not aware of Gilbert leaving for another job.

Multiple sources have…

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November 16, 2018

East Carolina’s basketball team scrimmaged Atlantic Coast Conference opponents Wake Forest and N.C. State during the preseason.

Tonight’s game at ACC member Georgia Tech will count toward the Pirates’ win-loss record.

ECU (2-1), which has one win ever against an ACC team when it…

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November 15, 2018

Coaches Scottie Montgomery and Randy Edsall sound similar at this point in the college football season.

Montgomery and the Pirates will be looking to stop a five-game losing streak when 1-9 Connecticut visits Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday. ECU is 2-7 this year, giving…

SMU UConn Football
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