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Montgomery breaks down holding claims

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Memphis' Roger Joseph (66) pulls on the jersey of East Carolina defensive lineman Chance Purvis at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, November 5, 2018

Two days after a 59-41 loss to Memphis dropped the East Carolina football team’s losing streak to four games, Pirate coach Scottie Montgomery was still adamant about what he described as his defensive linemen being restricted as much as he has ever seen.

When asked to expand, the third-year coach with an 8-24 career record was pointed with his comments.

“Holding. Tackling,” Montgomery said during his weekly news conference. “Guys running by you and you grab him by the inside of the jersey and tackle him down, on several occasions. The first one happened on our second defensive play of the game and you guys know it was a screen (pass) that scored (for a 71-yard touchdown).

“Nate Harvey was the backside player who turns into the rat-killer that tackles the screen from the backside. We had no player (there) because he was on his back on the ground with a tackle on top of him.”

Memphis was penalized nine times for 56 yards. The Pirates (2-6, 0-5 American Athletic Conference) had four penalties for 45 yards.

Montgomery added that the Pirates’ linebackers need to do a better job filling their gaps, beginning with this Saturday’s trip to Tulane (4-5, 3-2 American) and its tricky run-heavy offense. ECU must win its final four games to earn bowl eligibility.

Several ECU defensive linemen were in and out of the lineup against Memphis because of injuries, including starting tackle Jalen Price and backup interior player Raequan Purvis. Montgomery said that led to a workmanlike effort by nose tackle Alex Turner in more snaps than usual for the 6-foot-2, 293-pound junior and team leader.

“It hurt our rotation and we look to get Jalen back, but probably won’t have Raequan back this week,” Montgomery said. “We need for Jalen to play in this football game, because of the stress it puts on our rotation (with Price out). We’ll also have to call on some of our younger kids like Chandler Medeiros and some of the other guys who are involved.”

Former starting offensive linemen Branden Pena (right guard) and John Spellacy (center) are still injured and not on the depth chart. Freshman Peyton Winstead has emerged as a solid center in Spellacy’s absence, and there is an ‘or’ listed this week at right guard between Fernando Frye and Jordan Johnson for the starting spot.

Freshman quarterback Holton Ahlers, who has passed for 855 combined yards in his two starts, missed one play against the Tigers after landing hard on his right shoulder.

Ahlers and the Pirates will travel to New Orleans later this week and face a Tulane team that ranks second in the American Athletic Conference in rushing defense. Unlike ECU, the Green Wave has momentum in the form of consecutive victories, the last being a 41-15 rout at South Florida thanks to a dominant 368-110 advantage in rush yards.

“(Ahlers) has a nice bruise on his arm and is banged up a little bit in some other places, but he was at the walkthrough (Sunday) and able to do everything,” Montgomery said of the 6-foot-3, 236-pound left-hander and former D.H. Conley High School star. “His body is definitely built a lot different from people who play the position. I have to get him to understand that sliding is part of who he has to be now, and running out of bounds instead of getting a half-yard extra can restrict some of those shots.”

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

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Humans of Greenville

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

ECU

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