BOCA RATON, Fla. – East Carolina plays the first of two straight road games Saturday when the Pirates take on American Athletic Conference newcomer Florida Atlantic at the FAU Football Stadium.
The contest will kick off at 4 p.m. and will be streamed live through ESPN+ with James Westing (play-by-play), Leger Douzable (color analyst) and Smacker Miles (sideline) on the call.
ECU is under the direction of fifth-year head coach Mike Houston.
The Pirates (1-8, 0-5 AAC) gave then No. 21 Tulane all it could handle last Saturday but fell just short in a 13-10 decision at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. East Carolina came out methodical and efficient, scoring on its first two possessions in dominant fashion, racking up a 149-23 advantage in total yards, while running nine more plays and hanging on to the ball for 10:18 of the opening 15 minutes. The Pirates managed just 47 total yards from there, however, as the Green Wave held ECU scoreless the final three quarters. Gerald Green scored his first rushing touchdown in a Pirate uniform while Jaylen Johnson led the receiving corps with 40 yards on three catches.
The Owls (4-5, 3-2 AAC) lost a 45-42 thriller at UAB last week, rallying from a 35-14 deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter before the Blazers notched the final 10 points of the game. LaJohntay Wester surpassed the 1,000 receiving yards plateau during the day, finishing the affair with 219 yards on 11 receptions with four total touchdowns. Daniel Richardson completed 17 of 33 pass attempts for 293 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. FAU is 2-2 at home this season with wins over Monmouth and Tulsa as well as losses to Ohio University and UTSA.
East Carolina Records, Streaks and Trends
- Seeks its first road victory of the season with setbacks to then No. 2 Michigan, Appalachian State, Rice and UTSA.
- Has faced off with the top three teams in the conference standings this season (Tulane/SMU/UTSA).
- Has forced at least one turnover in 36 of the last 40 games and 47 of the last 54.
- Has scored three defensive touchdowns this season (six in the Houston era) – two at Appalachian State and one at UTSA.
- Recovered five fumbles against Gardner-Webb – a first since setting the standard versus TCU back on Nov. 23, 2002.
- Registered its first defensive shutout since 2000 (38-0 victory over Duke) with a 44-0 blanking of Gardner-Webb.
The Pirates and Owls have met just once on the gridiron with ECU coming away with a 31-13 victory in 2013 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium when both programs were members of Conference USA. ECU and FAU have met previously in baseball (series tied 2-2), men’s basketball (series tied 2-2) and women’s basketball (ECU leads 3-0).
East Carolina 31, Florida Atlantic 13
(Sept. 5, 2013 @ Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, N.C.)
A swarming Pirate defense forced three turnovers and recorded nine tackles for lost yardage, including six sacks, to power East Carolina to a 31-13 Conference USA victory over Florida Atlantic at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. ECU really turned up the heat in the second half, netting an interception and a fumble recovery, while dropping Owl quarterbacks Greg Hankerson and Jaquez Johnson a combined four times. In all, the Pirates held FAU to six or less yards on six of its 14 overall possessions. After Florida Atlantic trimmed the deficit to one, 7-6, with 11:55 remaining in the second quarter, senior Lance Ray’s 85-yard kickoff return set up a one-yard scoring pass from junior Shane Carden to junior receiver Justin Hardy and sparked a run of 24 straight points to put the game away. Junior linebacker Maurice Falls picked off Hankerson’s first pass on FAU’s next possession at the Owl 30-yard line and senior Vintavious Cooper’s seven-yard scoring rush a little over a minute later extended the cushion to 21-6 at the 9:13 mark. In addition to the pair of forced turnovers, ECU’s defense surrendered only 44 total yards in the third period while junior Warren Harvey and sophomore Chris Hairston provided the scoring with a 22-yard field goal and a four-yard run, respectively, for a 31-6 advantage. Carden completed 17-of-25 passes for 191 yards and Cooper racked up 95 ground yards on 20 carries to lead the Pirates offensively. Senior end Lee Pegues netted three of ECU’s six sacks.
Shutout Free … 321 and Counting
East Carolina enters its matchup at Florida Atlantic with an active streak of 321 games of not suffering a shutout – a school record (previous mark was 110 set from 1971-81). The last time the Pirates were blanked was on Oct. 4, 1997 (56-0 at Syracuse). ECU’s 331-game run currently ranks among the top 10 nationally (Florida is first with 444).
Comparing 10-Year, Nine-Game Results
East Carolina’s loss to No. 21 Tulane dropped the Pirates to 1-8 on the season. ECU has won two of its last three Week 10 contests under Mike Houston. A victory at FAU would improve the Pirates’ record to 2-8, but a loss would drop them to 1-9 which last occurred in 2003.
Looking For More Loot
Through nine games, East Carolina is +1 in turnover margin (ECU 12, Opponents 11). The Pirates forced eight fumbles against Gardner-Webb and recovered five (most in Mike Houston era) – a feat that they last accomplished on Nov. 23, 2002, against TCU (span of 253 games). ECU has scored three defensive touchdowns on the season (2 at Appalachian State, 1 at UTSA).
Analyzing The 2023 Overall Schedule
ECU’s 2023 opponents compiled an overall record of 87-67 (.565) in 2022. The Pirates’ four non-conference opponents were a combined 35-17 (.673) last season while the eight AAC teams on the state tallied a 52-50 (.510) mark. Seven programs had at least six or more wins including three teams that had 10-plus victories – Michigan (13-1), Tulane (12-2) and UTSA (11-3). Five of East Carolina’s first six opponents finished last year at or above .500.
Who went Bowling? … The Pirates’ 2023 schedule features contests against five teams who competed in bowl games last season, highlighted by Michigan’s second-straight appearance in the College Football Playoff Semifinals and Tulane’s comeback victory over USC in the Cotton Bowl … Michigan (Fiesta), Tulane (Cotton), Marshall (Myrtle Beach), UTSA (Duluth Trading Cure), and SMU (New Mexico) … Three of the Pirates’ six home games are against 2022 bowl qualifiers.
In the Final Polls … Two of ECU’s 2023 opponents finished the 2022 season in college football’s two major polls (Associated Press and USA Today/AFCA Coaches) – AAC champion Tulane (9/9) and Michigan (3/3).
East Carolina plays its final road game of the campaign Saturday, Nov. 18, at Navy. Kickoff at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium is set for Noon and the game will air live on ESPNNEWS and stream through ESPN+.