PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Keaton Mitchell ran for 222 yards and three touchdowns, and Holton Ahlers threw his third touchdown pass of the game with 1:11 left to lift East Carolina to a 49-46 win over Temple on Saturday.
The victory gives East Carolina seven wins for the second straight season.
Temple took the lead on E.J. Warner’s fifth touchdown pass of the game, a 15-yard strike to David Martin-Robinson with 6:19 left for a 46-42 lead.
The teams traded punts and the Owls pinned East Carolina at its own 11-yard line with three minutes to play. Ahlers drove the Pirates 89 yards in eight plays to take the lead.
He threw the game-winning touchdown pass on a dead run after evading a fierce Temple pass rush. Jaylen Johnson broke off his route to catch the ball on front of an Owls safety at the 5 and scored.
The East Carolina defense stopped Temple on four plays to preserve the win.
“To go seven and five this year – I know we’re all disappointed that we’re not getting ready for the conference championship game next week – but another step forward by this program and by these seniors,” fourth-year head coach Mike Houston said. “It kind of puts last week to bed. We got over it, we played well now. Now we’re back in bowl season again this year. Don’t know where we’re going, but the goal now is to go win a bowl game.”
The Pirates escaped despite allowing a season-high 46 points and 575 yards in frenzied shootout that featured 1,109 total yards, 13 touchdowns and seven lead changes. ECU, which led by 11 on three occasions, seized the lead for the final time with an 89-yard drive in the final three minutes, scoring on Ahlers’ 38-yard strike to Jaylen Johnson.
Mitchell got East Carolina (7-5, 4-4) on the board in the first quarter, bursting 49 yards for a touchdown and then added two more short runs to the end zone in the third quarter. He had 27 carries and topped the century mark for the sixth straight game. He also pulled in a 73-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Warner threw for 527 yards and five touchdowns for Temple (3-9, 1-7), completing 45 of 63 pass attempts. The freshman finished the season with 2,501 yards and 13 touchdowns.
ECU Sports Information contributed to this story.