PIRATE FOOTBALL PREVIEW: ECU @ Virginia Tech – 12:30pm on WNCT

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU Media Relations) – East Carolina will try to make it seven in a row against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents when it visits Virginia Tech for a non-league matchup Saturday at Lane Stadium. The Pirates, who will finish a stretch of three consecutive matchups against “Power 5” conference foes after facing NC State and South Carolina in back-to-back weeks, have knocked off North Carolina, the Wolfpack and the Hokies twice during their current run of success against the ACC. The tilt versus Virginia Tech will also close out a two-game roadswing for ECU, which will return to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium to open American Athletic Conference play against UCF on Oct. 1.

EAST CAROLINA RECORDS AND STREAKS

  • Qualified for 10 bowl appearances since 2000 (three of the last four years) …
  • Has won 29 of the last 34 games when scoring 30 or more points …
  • Has lost 19-straight games when scoring 20 or less points (19-14 vs. UCF in ’09/last win) …
  • Has won 19 of the last 21 games when gaining 200 or more rushing yards …
  • Has won 28 of the last 30 games when leading at the half …
  • Has won 11 of the last 21 regular season road games …
  • Has won 10 of the last 15 regular season non-conference games …
  • Has won six-straight games against ACC opponents (dating back to 2013) … …

THE SERIES

Virginia Tech leads 13-7 … After the Hokies opened the series with a 37-2 win in 1956, the two programs observed a 31-year hiatus before meeting on an annual basis for eight seasons beginning in 1987 … After ECU won four of the first seven matchups, Virginia Tech rolled off six straight before the Pirates snapped the streak by upsetting the Hokies 27-22 in Charlotte in 2008 … Virginia Tech has won six of nine in Blacksburg, but the Pirates will try to post back-to-back wins at Lane Stadium for the first time in program history Saturday.

EAST CAROLINA AGAINST THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE

East Carolina has compiled an all-time record of 44-83-1 (.348) against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference … In addition to a 7-13 mark against Virginia Tech, the Pirates own a 13-16 ledger against NC State, 5-5 vs. Duke, 4-6 vs. Louisville, 3-6 vs. Syracuse, 4-12-1 vs. North Carolina, 2-1 vs. Virginia, 2-2 vs. Pittsburgh, 2-6 vs. Wake Forest, 2-9 vs. Miami and 0-7 vs. Florida State.

BACK-TO-BACK-TO-BACK POWER FIVE CHALLENGES

By facing NC State (Sept. 10), South Carolina (last week/Sept. 17) and Virginia Tech (this week/Sept. 24), ECU will battle against members of the Power Five (formerly known as automatic-qualifying BCS opponents) in successive games for the 11th time since 2005 – 1-2 in 2005 (Duke/WFU/WVU), 1-1 twice in 2006 (WVU/UVA and NCSU/USF), 1-1 in 2007 (VT/UNC), 2-0 in 2008 (VT/WVU), 0-2 in 2009 (WVU/UNC),0-2 in 2010 (VT/UNC), 0-2 in 2011 (SC/VT), 1-1 in 2013 (VT/UNC), 2-1 in 2014 (SC/VT/UNC) and 1-1 so far in 2016 (NCSU/SC) … Looking ahead to the 2017 season, the Pirates will play at West Virginia (Sept. 9) and host Virginia Tech (Sept. 16) in back-to-back weeks, while also welcoming BYU to Greenville on Oct. 21.

ANALYZING THE 2016 OVERALL SCHEDULE

East Carolina’s 2016 schedule consists of games against two conference divisional champions (Navy and Temple/American West co-champs and East champs, respectively), eight bowl participants (NC State, Virginia Tech, USF, Navy, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Tulsa, Temple) and three programs that are either currently ranked or earning votes in the two major Top 25 polls – USF (RV), Navy (RV) and Virginia Tech (RV). Collectively, the Pirates’ opponents this season are a combined 23-13 (.639) after the first three weeks of action.

CHARTING THE PIRATES MONTH-BY-MONTH

In all, ECU is 3-2-0 in August, 123-111-2 in September, 160-150-4 in October, 137-117-5 in November, 9-9-0 in December and 1-4-0 in January … Although the Pirates are 2-1 this season (and have won 15 of their last 25 overall September games), ECU has posted a recent 8-10 record against non-conference foes in the ninth month.

INTRODUCING THIS YEAR’S FIRST-TIME STARTERS

There have been a combined 11 first-time starters in East Carolina’s lineup against Western Carolina, NC State and South Carolina to open the season – five on the offensive side of the ball with TE Stephen Baggett, G Garrett McGhin, T Messiah Rice, T Justin Sandifer and RB Anthony Scott, and six on defense as OLB Kiante Anderson, DE Justin Brown, SS Bobby Fulp, CB Colby Gore, OLB Pat Green and CB Corey Seargent each made their respective starting debuts … It is worth nothing however that twoadditional starters – OG Will Dancy (2/North Carolina) and QB Philip Nelson (16/Minnesota) – have also made their inaugural Pirate appearances in 2016, but did own previous collegiate starting experience before transferring into the ECU program.

ZAY’S STREAK

Senior WR Zay Jones has caught at least one pass in 38-straight games heading into the Virginia Tech contest … The streak, which began with a two-catch, 27-yard effort vs. North Carolina on Sept. 28, 2013, currently ranks fourth among all active receivers (Georgia State’s Robert Davis’ 40-game run stands first) … His school-record 22-catch, 190-yard effort vs. South Carolina last week represented the 10th double-digit reception outing and 12th triple-digit yard total of his ECU career … Jones has 16 career touchdown receptions and the Pirates are 13-2 when he snares a scoring catch (only losses were at Florida and BYU in 2015, respectively) … In his last five games (UCF/Cincinnati in ’15, WCU/NCSU/SC in ’16), Jones has made 65 receptions for 748 yards – an average of 13 grabs and 150 yards per game.

HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS

ECU hasn’t allowed a TD in the third quarter through three games this season, outscoring its opponents 28-3 … The Pirates also enjoy an overall 44-13 edge in the second half.

 

THIS AND THAT

INDIVIDUAL NOTES: OL J.T. Boyd (26 games) and FS Travon Simmons (16) own the program’s longest starting streaks on their respective side of the ball entering the Virginia Tech game … WR Zay Jones has caught multiple passes in 40 of 41 career games (none vs. VT in 2013) … Of his 280 career receptions, 119 have gone for 10 or more yards (35 for 20-plus) … He’s also hauled down at least one pass in 11 of 12 quarters this season (none vs. WCU in the fourth quarter) … QB Philip Nelson has accounted for eight of ECU’s 12 TDs this season … RB Anthony Scott is on pace to shatter ECU single-season records for receptions and TD catches by a RB … Scott has 17 receptions in three games, an average of 5.7 rpg (record is 52/4.0 by Jonathan Williams in 2010) … In regards to TD grabs, Scott already has three in 2016 – just three shy of the current standard of six set by Jerris McPhail (1993) and Chris Johnson (2007) … After turning in personal bests vs. NCSU in receptions (13) and receiving yards (75), WR Quay Johnson followed with seven catches for 59 yards vs. South Carolina for a total of 20 grabs for 134 yards in his last two outings … OLB Dayon Pratt produced a career-high seven stops (six solo), logged a pair of TFLs, one sack (-8 yards) and forced a fumble against NC State … ILB Terrell Richardson matched a personal best with seven tackles (five solo) vs. the Wolfpack and followed by tallying four solo hits while making his first start of the season against South Carolina … With a trio of three-pointers vs. South Carolina, PK Davis Plowman extended his streak to six-straight games with a field goal made dating back to 2015 … The three successful kicks against the Gamecocks also marked his fourth career multi-FG outing (3-3/TLS, 3-3/UCF in ’15, 2-2/NCSU, 3-4/SC in ’16) … KOS Caleb Pratt has drilled seven touchbacks in 20 kickoff s this year, pushing his career TB total to 38 (31/2015, 7/2016) … He has logged at least one touchback in 12 of 15 career games (delivered multiple endzone landings on nine occasions).

TEAM NOTES: ECU will play 11-straight weeks to open the 2016 campaign (after playing 10-straight weeks to start the 2015 season) … The Pirates have thrown at least one TD strike in 54 of their last 60 games … ECU is a perfect 5-of-5 on fourth down this year, converting all fi ve opportunities in the last two games (3-3/NC State, 2-2/South Carolina) … The Pirates’ 400 passing yards vs. South Carolina ranked as the 10th-highest road game air performance in school history … ECU’s 688 yards of total offense vs. WCU were the most ever compiled in a Pirates’ season opener (and ranks third in all games in program history) … In 34 offensive possessions so far, East Carolina has been limited to a “three-and-out” on only three occasions … A total of eight (8) players have had their redshirts removed and experienced action as true freshmen so far – OLB Kendall Futrell, CB Colby Gore, OG Cortez Herrin, RB Hussein Howe, DE Jalen Price, DS Anthony Ratliff , OT D’Ante Smith and DE Alex Turner … ECU will enter the Virgina Tech contest with an active streak of 234 games of not suffering a shutout – a school record (previous mark was 110 set from ’71 to ’81) … The last time the Pirates were blanked was on Oct. 4, 1997 (56-0 at Syracuse).

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