GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina wraps up a four-game homestand Saturday evening, hosting Navy in the Pirates’ American Athletic Conference opener inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. and the game will stream live via ESPN+ with Richard Cross (play-by-play) and Jay Sonnhalter (analyst) on the call.
The Pirates are under the direction of fourth-year head coach Mike Houston.
ECU (2-1) fell behind early against Campbell last Saturday, but roared back with 42 unanswered points to post a 49-10 victory. Keaton Mitchell racked up 185 yards and a touchdown, notching his eighth career 100-yard effort, while Holton Ahlers set both the East Carolina total yards and AAC passing yards career records. Jaylen Johnson also hauled in his first career touchdown.
Navy (0-2, 0-1 AAC) had last Saturday off and seeks its first win of the campaign after losses to Delaware and Memphis.
East Carolina Records, Streaks and Trends
- Has allowed only four 4th-quarter offensive TDs in the last nine games dating back to the 2021 season
- Has outscored its opponents 64-14 in the second half this season (+50)
- Has forced at least one turnover in 21 of the last 23 games (and in 32 of the last 33)
- Stands 13th nationally in time of possession averaging 34:03 per contest in 2022
- Has snapped more offensive plays than their three home opponents (219-180/+39)
- Is averaging 38,662 fans per game since the start of 2021 season
Navy leads the series with East Carolina by a 7-2 margin. The Midshipmen posted 28-23 and 76-35 victories to open the series in 2006 and 2010, respectively, before ECU used Dominique Davis’ record-setting 40-of-45 passing effort to post its first win in 2011. Navy triumphs in 2015, ’16, ’19 and ’20 marked the first AAC matchups between the two programs before Owen Daffer’s game-winning 54-yard field goal as time expired gave the Pirates the win in 2021.
Houston Against The Mids
Mike Houston owns a 1-2 record all-time against Navy dating back to his first meeting in 2019. During his earlier eight-year tenure as a NCAA Division II and FCS collegiate head coach, the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears, The Citadel Bulldogs and James Madison Dukes never competed against Navy.
Niumatalolo Against The Pirates
Ken Niumatalolo will face East Carolina as a head coach for the ninth (6-2) time Saturday. He was on Paul Johnson’s staff as an assistant head coach during the series opener in 2006, but did not square off against the Pirates during his earlier full-time tenures at Hawai’i (1992-94) or UNLV (1999-2001).
East Carolina improved to 2-3 all time against Campbell (2-1 in Greenville) … Improved to 4-4 against current members of the Big South … Lost the time of possession battle for first time this season (first time in eight games) … Improved to 7-2 under head coach Mike Houston when scoring at least 40 points (14-3 when leading at the half) … Registered a season-high 572 yards of total offense (500-plus in two-straight games) … Pitched a second-half shutout for the second time this season (NC State) and held an opponent scoreless in three consecutive quarters in a single game for the first time since a 44-7 win at UCF back on Nov. 19, 2015 … Scored four rushing touchdowns for the first time since Oct. 2, 2021 versus Tulane – a span of 10 games … Threw three touchdown passes and have tossed at least one in 49 of last 58 games (113 of last 128).
Keaton Mitchell (124/CIN, 103/TEM in 2020; 135/MAR, 125/CSU, 222/TLN, 146/TEM in 2021 and 160/ODU, 185/CAM in 2022) has eight career 100-yard rushing games entering the Navy contest. Mitchell posted his fourth 100-yard ground game in 2021 against Temple while his running mate Rahjai Harris tallied his fourth (22-100) vs. USF (10/28/21), marking the first time since 2003 that ECU featured teammates with at least four each (Marvin Townes/5, Art Brown/4). Individually, Dominique Lindsay posted five in 2009 for the most recent single-season best. Currently, Mitchell is tied for eighth in the Pirate annals, reaching the century mark on eight occasions.
Looking For More Loot
Heading into the Navy game, East Carolina currently sits at a +2 margin in takeaways. The Pirates have forced four fumbles, recovering two, and picked off a pair of passes for 32 return yards.
Comparing 10-Year, Three-Game Results
East Carolina’s 49-10 win over Campbell gave the Pirates a .500 or better record for the fourth time in the last 10 years and first in Mike Houston’s four-year tenure. A victory over Navy would give ECU a 3-1 ledger for the third time since 2013, but a loss would mark the eighth consecutive season of .500 or less since 2014.
Among Top Passing Units In American History
Since joining the AAC in 2014, the Pirates stand second in passing yards over a combined eight-plus year period despite utilizing nine starting quarterbacks, four offensive coordinators and three head coaches: 1. Memphis (30,879), 2. East Carolina (29,073), 3. UCF (26,844), 4. SMU (26,782), 5. Houston (26,410), 6. Cincinnati (26,404), 7. Tulsa (25,291), 8. Temple (22,775), 9. South Florida (20,767), 10. Tulane (18,698) and 11. Navy (8,153). However, the Pirates top the league in completions (2,453) and attempts (4,049) … ECU has also accounted for a conference-high 19 400-yard passing games and surpassed the 300-yard mark on 50 occasions during the 93-game span. The top two receivers in NCAA FBS history by career receptions – Zay Jones (399 from 2013-16) and Justin Hardy (387 from 2011-2014) – are former ECU players.
At Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
East Carolina’s all-time record at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is 198-112 (.639). The Pirates opened the facility on Sept. 21, 1963, with a 20-10 win over Wake Forest in front of 17,000 fans, celebrated the stadium’s 50th anniversary in 2013 and recently hosted its 300th game vs. Tulane in 2020. Before a 4-2 clip in 2021, a 1-3 record two years ago and a collective 13-19 mark from 2015-2019, ECU was 5-1 in 2014, 2013 and 2012 (15-3) and won a combined 10 of 12 home matchups in 2009 (6-1) and 2008 (4-1). Overall, ECU has posted 40 winning campaigns at DFS since 1963.
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 – establishing itself among conference attendance leaders on a near annual basis … In all, a total of 9,253,424 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), the Pirates have drawn 2,982,135 fans.