GREENVILLE, N.C. — East Carolina closes out its two-game homestand playing host to American Athletic Conference newcomer Charlotte Saturday, Oct. 21, inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. and the game will stream live through ESPN+ with James Westling (play-by-play) and Leger Douzable (color analyst) on the call.
East Carolina is under the direction of fifth-year head coach Mike Houston.
The contest, which marks the first-ever meeting between the two institutions on the gridiron, has been designated as Homecoming/Letterwinners Weekend. It is also the annual ECU Athletics Hall of Fame Weekend during which four individuals – Justine Allpress (women’s basketball), Jeff Charles (radio/broadcaster), Roderick Coleman (football) and Seth Maness (baseball) – will be enshrined Friday night and recognized during the game. Following Saturday’s game, ECU will play just two of its next five at home (Tulane/Nov. 4 and Tulsa/Nov. 25).
The Pirates (1-5, 0-2 AAC) dropped a 31-10 decision to SMU in their last outing back on Oct. 12. ECU ran 16 more offensive plays and owned a near nine-minute advantage in time of possession, but the Mustangs notched 17 second-half points and pitched a shutout in the third and fourth quarters after leading 14-10 at the break.
East Carolina quarterback Mason Garcia directed a pair of scoring drives, completing 12 of 26 passes for a career-high 155 yards and rushing for a team-best 38 yards on 12 carries – including a six-yard touchdown run. All told, the Pirates managed 97 yards on the ground on 38 carries on the way to 290 yards of total offense. Chase Sowell emerged as a bright spot in the receiving corps with his second straight seven-catch game and a career-high 120 yards.
Charlotte (1-5, 0-2 AAC) was blanked by Navy 14-0 last Saturday at home despite the teams ending the game with 265 yards of total offense apiece. The contest was tied 0-0 at halftime as both teams combined for 12 punts and 171 yards of total offense in the first half. The Midshipmen got on the scoreboard with a 69-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and then added a 62-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to account for the final score. The 49er defense recorded a season-high nine tackles for loss, including a game-high two for Marcus Robitaille. Offensively, Shadrick Byrd rushed for a career high and Charlotte season-high 92 yards on 20 carries.
East Carolina Records, Streaks and Trends
- Has won 14 of its last 16 Homecoming games.
- Holds a 1-2 record at home with a win over Gardner-Webb as well as setbacks to Marshall and SMU.
- Seeks its first road victory of the campaign following losses to then No. 2 Michigan, Appalachian State and Rice.
- Has forced at least one turnover in 33 of the last 37 games (and in 44 of the last 51).
- Scored a pair of defensive touchdowns at App State, marking the first time that has happened since 2013 against Old Dominion.
- Recovered five fumbles in the victory over Gardner-Webb – a first since setting the standard against TCU back on Nov. 23, 2002.
- Registered its first defensive shutout since a 38-0 victory over Duke on Sept. 2, 2000.
ECU and Charlotte meet for the first time on the football field Saturday. The schools have done battle on the basketball court (MBB: 10-18, WBB: 10-26) as well as on the baseball diamond (ECU leads series 34-6) with the Pirates holding a 54-50 combined record in those three sports.
Shutout Free … 318 and Counting
East Carolina enters the game against Charlotte with an active streak of 318 games of not suffering a shutout – a school record (previous mark was 110 set from ’71-’81). The last time the Pirates were blanked was on Oct. 4, 1997 (56-0 at Syracuse). ECU’s 318-game run currently ranks among the Top 10 nationally (Florida is first at 442).
Drawing First Blood
Since 2000, East Carolina owns an 11-7 (.611) record when meeting current FBS opponents for the first time. After winning five straight, the Pirates have dropped three of their last four contests.
Comparing 10-Year, Six-Game Results
East Carolina’s loss to SMU dropped the Pirates to 1-5 on the season. It marks the third time in the last 10 years that ECU owns a 1-5 record through six games. A win against Charlotte would improve the Pirates to 2-5, a first since 2018, but a loss would drop them to 1-6 which last occurred in 2017.
Looking For More Loot
Through six games this season, East Carolina is minus one in turnover margin (ECU 9, Opponents 10). ECU 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). In its last four games, ECU has forced eight turnovers while coughing up the ball seven times.
Among American Athletic Conference Attendance Leaders
East Carolina has been among the leaders in attendance every season since becoming a member of the American Athletic Conference in 2014. The Pirates finished the 2022 season ranked 47th nationally and second in the Group of 5 and AAC in attendance per game. Currently, they stand 61st in the country in average attendance and second in the league (37,415).
The Pirate Nation – Over 9 Million Strong
East Carolina has usually been able to claim plenty of hometown support when playing at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. In all, a total of 9,523,674 fans have seen the Pirates in action since 1963, and since the completion of a 7,000-seat expansion project in 2010 (to push capacity to 50,000), ECU has drawn 3,252,385 fans.
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 makes the trip to San Antonio Saturday, Oct. 28, for an American Athletic Conference matchup with league newcomer UTSA. Kickoff from the Alamodome is slated for 3:30 p.m. ET and the game will stream live via ESPN+.