GREENVILLE, N.C. – After allowing touchdowns on successive offensive possessions to open the contest, the Pirates’ defense responded in strong fashion to control the remainder of East Carolina’s second spring scrimmage Saturday morning on Bagwell Field inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Starting quarterback Holton Ahlers engineered a 21-play, 97-yard scoring drive that was capped by a one-yard Rahjai Harris TD plunge to begin the action before Mason Garcia guided ECU on a 75-yard march that ended in a Joseph McKay scoring jaunt from 19 yards out before the defense turned the tables.
Outside of Brock Spalding’s seven-yard touchdown reception from Ryan Stubblefield on the latter’s initial possession at the controls, the East Carolina defense pitched a shutout until Carson Smith’s 41-yard field goal concluded the intrasquad matchup.
The Pirates were credited with 18 tackles for lost yardage, which included nine “quick whistle” sacks, and netted interceptions from Cruz Temple and Shawn Dourseau. A total of 32 players booked at least one stop with Teylor Jackson, Xavier Smith, Teagan Wilk, Jeremy Lewis and Jireh Wilson leading the way with six each. Additionally, ends Immanuel Hickman (4/2) and Elijah Robinson (3/3) combined on seven TFLs and six sacks that resulted in a loss of 30 yards.
Offensively, ECU still averaged 4.0 yards per snap after racking up 366 on 91 plays. McKay spearheaded the Pirates’ ground attack with a unit-high 86 yards on 11 carries. A four-man rotating quarterbacking corps combined on a 20-of-36, 204-yard passing effort that was led by Ahlers, who completed seven-of-12 tosses for 97 yards. Stubblefield connected on seven (of 11) throws for 57 yards and accounted for East Carolina’s only aerial score.
Taji Hudson topped a total of 13 pass catchers with three receptions for 45 yards, while tight end Shane Calhoun added 34 more on a pair of grabs.
The Pirates were flagged a combined 11 times (7/offense, 4/defense) and collectively averaged only 31.9 yards on nine punts.
ECU will return to the Cliff Moore Practice Complex Tuesday to begin its fourth and final week of spring drills before wrapping up work with the annual Purple-Gold Game on Saturday, April 9. Kickoff is slated for 12:30 p.m. at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and admission is free.