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Ahlers' improvisation already on display

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East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers scrambles to his left and looks down field against UCF at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Oct. 20.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Holton Ahlers did it at D.H. Conley High School, and the on-the-run, right-handed shovel pass has already made its way into Ahlers’ arsenal as East Carolina’s freshman starting quarterback.

Ahlers is a scrambler by nature as a 6-foot-3, 236-pounder with an ideal combination of size and speed.

He also has unique improvisational talent as a QB, like during the Pirates’ preseason when one of the most exciting plays during a scrimmage came when Ahlers was scrambling in the backfield and made a quick flip to streaking running back Anthony Scott near the sideline for a play that easily went for a long touchdown.

Ahlers has made similar flip throws twice now during game action, including last Saturday with his off hand when he was trying to orchestrate a comeback against Memphis during the third quarter.

“I do everything right-handed but throw, so I can do stuff right-handed, too, and it is just instinct,” Ahlers said after Tuesday morning’s practice. “Ever since I remember playing football I’ve always done it. It’s just an instinct thing.”

Offensive coordinator Tony Petersen has one stipulation for Ahlers and the highlight-reel type of play.

“We just have to make sure we honor and stay behind the line of scrimmage, because we got a little close there on Saturday and got away with it,” he said. “It’s one of those things where with a guy like him it is no different than him scrambling and throwing the ball, but he is just able to get it out quick.”

The Pirates (2-6, 0-5 American Athletic Conference) did tie the game, 31-31, during the third quarter before the Tigers eventually pulled away for a 59-41 win. ECU’s scoring output of 41 was more than the 39 it had in the previous three games combined.

Ahlers was making his second start and produced a turnover-free outing of 34-of-62 passing for 449 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran 17 times for 57 yards.

His third start comes Saturday at Tulane, which like Memphis, is favored by about two touchdowns over East Carolina.

Two of the lefty’s touchdown passes last week went to reliable senior receiver Trevon Brown, and the other was to freshman walk-on slot man Tyler Snead during the fourth quarter.

Likely at the top of the list of game highlights for Ahlers, though, was his quick pitch earlier in the second half that caught the Memphis defense off guard and wowed the light Pirate crowd in attendance at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

“Whether it is left-handed or right-handed, I am OK as long as we are taking care of the football,” Petersen said. “He’s done it I think twice this year and both times he has not put the ball in danger. As long as he is not doing that and not pitching the ball back (toward the middle of the field), then I’m good.”

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

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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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