BYH, some see the glass as half empty. I say just get a smaller glass and quit complaining....

WOODWARD: Mistakes magnified for rebuilding ECU

1 of 2

N.C. State's Louis Acceus (2) celebrates as East Carolina sophomore quarterback Holton Ahlers sits on the ground after being sacked during Saturday's game at Carter-Finley Stadium. The Wolfpack provided plenty of pressure on Ahlers and won 34-6.


The Daily Reflector

Monday, September 2, 2019


The sequence is easy to envision — East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers sheds the tackle attempt and powers the final few yards into the end zone for a Pirate touchdown Saturday, not long after a noon kickoff, at sold-out Carter-Finley Stadium.

ECU scores on its first offensive possession of the Mike Houston coaching era and holds a lead against favored N.C. State for as long as possible. Maybe even the entire game.

What really happened, however, was the helmet of Wolfpack defender Tanner Ingle had perfect placement on Ahlers’ left elbow and the football, creating a fumble recovered by the home team in the end zone on a play that turned out to be the most important of the game.

N.C. State cruised down the field for its first touchdown on the ensuing possession, and Ahlers, Houston and the Pirates never recovered. The Wolfpack won 34-6, which is proof of progress for ECU compared to the 58-3 rout in Raleigh of 2018.

In the current landscape of college football, one in which ECU is trying to recover from three straight 3-9 records and four consecutive losing seasons overall, all mistakes are magnified for the Pirates.

Ahlers also threw an interception during the first half for the second and final turnover of the afternoon, a blocking penalty wiped out a long kickoff return by Tyler Snead and Jake Verity missed a 52-yard field goal early in the second quarter when the score was 7-3.

N.C. State held a 17-3 lead at halftime, a score that was on the verge of being insurmountable.

Seventh-year Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren has the team that never wavered from a full level of confidence and was better equipped, mentally and physically, to withstand any up-and-down moments.

The Pirates can get to that point of comfort under Houston, a proven winner, but it will require teaching moments along the way.

Saturday showed that ECU is still in catch-up mode against its most formidable opponents.

N.C. State also started a sophomore quarterback, like Ahlers, and it served as the first-career start for Matt McKay.

But McKay, unlike Ahlers, was not needed to go win the game. He just had to not lose it.

He passed for 308 yards and accounted for three total touchdowns, without turning the ball over or being sacked.

McKay was far from simply a game-manager, however, as he showed glimpses of star power. The Raleigh native shook off some early misfires to settle in and connect on a few important long pass plays later in the game.

In the end, the mostly mistake-free Wolfpack scored its 14th straight victory in a game kicked off at noon or 12:30. That streak is as impressive as it is unique.

Houston said during his postgame news conference that the Wolfpack is talented enough for this to not be a rebuilding season after State went 9-4 in 2018.

The ECU job is a week-to-week rebuilding journey for Houston, and he will move forward with Ahlers and other eager players looking to create their own version of success and momentum while playing two Football Championship Subdivision teams during the next three weeks.

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


Humans of Greenville


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


September 14, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Navy cruised to a 2-0 record in a frustrating day Saturday for East Carolina football, which lost 42-10 to the Midshipmen for ECU to drop to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the American Athletic Conference in coach Mike Houston’s first season with the Pirates.

Here are three…

East Carolina Navy Football-4

September 14, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Among the improbable things for a disastrous day by the East Carolina football team Saturday was that Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry passed for more yards than Holton Ahlers.

Perry and a stingy Navy defense led the charge in the Midshipmen's 42-10 rout of the Pirates in the…

East Carolina Navy Football-3

September 14, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Add quarterback Malcolm Perry prominently to the list of Navy football players to enjoy spinning, shaking, shedding and sizzling the East Carolina football defense.

In a series that began in 2006 and has been dictated by the Midshipmen and their punishing and methodical…

East Carolina Navy Football

September 14, 2019

Here are three Navy players to keep an eye on as East Carolina heads to Annapolis, Md., to face the Midshipmen in American Athletic Conference action:

Malcolm Perry

Any Navy team runs as good as its quarterback. Perry, a senior former running back, is far from a perfect passer but he remains as one…

Navy Football Preview

September 14, 2019

Q: What is your favorite form of social media?

A: I would say Twitter. It’s more active, everybody is on Twitter. I like Instagram, too, but I like Twitter more.

Q: Where is your favorite spot to eat at in Greenville?

A: I will say Kickback Jacks. I like Kickback Jacks. I love their spinach…


September 14, 2019

These three questions appeared in our Pirate Gameday section to preview East Carolina versus Navy in football. 

The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network. Check back after the game for the answers:

1. Any turnovers by the Pirates? Because of time of possession, turnovers…


September 14, 2019

Mike Houston didn't celebrate too long after his first victory as East Carolina's football coach, partly because he knew what was ahead in this week's trip trip to Navy.

ECU (1-1) and Navy (1-0) play their respective first American Athletic Conference game of the season today in a 3:30 p.m. kickoff…


September 13, 2019

Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo said earlier this week that he wants to see more passes this year from quarterback Malcolm Perry.

East Carolina defensive coordinator Bob Trott is not putting too much stock into any new Navy mindset and is still planning to mainly see running plays Saturday when…

Navy Football

September 12, 2019

East Carolina first-year athletics director Jon Gilbert said he noticed even before kickoff last Saturday night at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium that slow concessions could be an issue that could increase as the night progressed for ECU’s first home football game of the season, so he put a priority…


September 12, 2019

East Carolina’s football team heads north on Saturday to play Navy, which has beaten the Pirates in three straight meetings and holds a 5-1 all-time advantage in the series.

It will be the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams and coach Mike Houston’s league debut with the…

190 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 19
        Next Page»   Last Page»