GREENVILLE, N.C. – Having picked up its first American Athletic Conference victory of the campaign last weekend, East Carolina looks to keep the momentum going when it encounters Tulane Saturday afternoon in New Orleans.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and the contest will air on ESPNU with Anish Shroff (play-by-play), Brock Osweiler (analyst) and Taylor McGregor (sideline) on the call.
The Pirates are under the direction of fourth-year head coach Mike Houston.
ECU (3-2, 1-1 AAC) faced off with South Florida in Boca Raton last Saturday, riding a big first-half offensive performance to a 48-28 victory. Holton Ahlers tied his own school record with six touchdown passes while finishing the game completing 31 of 41 attempts for 465 yards and no interceptions. C.J. Johnson also matched a program single-game record with four touchdown receptions while racking up 197 yards on seven catches. The Pirates produced a season-high 575 yards of total offense, marking the third time this year the squad has eclipsed the 500-yard mark.
Tulane (4-1, 1-0 AAC) posted a 27-24 overtime win at Houston last Friday in its American Conference opener. Willie Fritz is in his seventh season as the program’s head coach.
East Carolina Records, Streaks and Trends
- Has allowed only seven 4th-quarter offensive TDs in the last 11 games dating back to the 2021 season
- Has outscored its opponents 88-55 in the second half and overtime this season (+33 in points)
- Has forced at least one turnover in 23 of the last 25 games (and in 34 of the last 37)
- Stands eighth nationally in time of possession, averaging 34:09 per contest in 2022
- Snapped more offensive plays than their five opponents (352-321/+32)
Mike Houston Against The Green Wave
Including Houston’s prior nine-year tenure as a head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne, The Citadel, James Madison (and East Carolina), Saturday’s game will mark his third meeting with Tulane as he is 1-2 against the Green Wave.
Willie Fritz Against The Pirates
Fritz has faced East Carolina five times as head coach at Tulane, holding a 3-1 record against the Pirates. ECU never competed against Central Missouri State (1997-2009), Sam Houston State (2012-2013) or Georgia Southern (2014-2015) while Willie Fritz headed those programs.
East Carolina leads the all-time series with Tulane by a 12-6 margin. The Pirates have won seven of the last 11 (and 11 of the last 16) meetings. ECU is 9-2 against the Green Wave in Greenville, but Tulane has won four of seven matchups in New Orleans.
Last Meeting (Oct. 2, 2021)
East Carolina used a quick start, a balanced but potent offensive performance and a physical turnover-producing defense to dismantle Tulane 52-29 in the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium … After being held to a season-low 35 rushing yards in their meeting a year ago, the Pirates unleashed a powerful ground attack that generated 310 yards, the program’s most since 2007 … Keaton Mitchell piled up a career-best 222 rush yards, which marked his third consecutive triple-digit outing and was ECU’s highest individual total since first round NFL draft choice Chris Johnson picked up 223 in the 2007 Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl against Boise State … Mitchell had jaunts of 68, 62 and 30 yards, reaching paydirt twice … The Pirates jumped out to a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter before settling for a 31-7 edge at intermission … East Carolina’s defense netted three interceptions and its special teams unit recovered a muffed punt return to help stifle a Green Wave comeback attempt … Ahlers completed 21-of-32 passes for 288 and a pair of touchdowns, hooking up with Tyler Snead on a 53-yarder and Rahjai Harris on a three-yard toss in the first half … Ahlers also accounted for another score, rambling in from 17 yards out for ECU’s first touchdown of the day.
South Florida Leftovers
East Carolina won its third straight in the series with South Florida, improving to 4-9 all time against the Bulls … Won the time of possession battle for the third time in five games this season … Scored 40+ points in a game for the second time this season (other: 49 vs. Campbell) … Posted 41 points in the first half – the most for the Pirates in a half since tallying 45 in the first stanza of a 52-38 victory over SMU on Nov. 28, 2020 … Compiled 465 passing yards – the eighth-highest single-game mark in program history – and the most since a 498-yard performance in a 59-51 road loss to SMU on Nov. 9, 2019 … The 465 yards also mark the fifth-highest total in a road contest in program history … Threw three touchdown passes and have tossed at least one in 51 of the last 60 games (115 of last 130).
Looking For More Loot
Heading into the Tulane game, East Carolina currently sits at a +2 margin in takeaways. The Pirates have forced seven fumbles, recovering four, and picked off three passes for 43 return yards. Despite its impressive 45-3 win, East Carolina’s 16-game streak of forcing at least one turnover came to a halt against Temple on Nov. 6 (2021). The run, which began on Oct. 3, 2020, at Georgia State and produced 36 takeaways (22 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries), was the program’s longest since a 33-game streak (from 2007 to 2010).
Shutout-Free … 304 And Counting
East Carolina will enter the Tulane game with an active streak of 304 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 304-game run currently ranks among the Top 10 nationally (Florida is first with 427).
1K-1K Club Membership
Ahlers is the lone active FBS quarterback who has passed for 11,000+ yards and rushed for over 1,000 for his overall career and one of two that is 10K/1K. He is also the only active FBS QB with over 13,000 total yards.
Among The 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 (31,215), 2. East Carolina (29,805), 3. SMU (27,154), 4. Cincinnati (26,924), 5. UCF (26,893), 6. Houston (26,867), 7. Tulsa (25,735), 8. Temple (23,226), 9. South Florida (21,130), 10. Tulane (19,134) and 11. Navy (8,406) … However, the Pirates top the league in completions (2,506) and attempts (4,124) … ECU has also accounted for a conference-high 20 400 yard passing games and surpassed the 300-yard mark on 51 occasions during the 95-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.
A Starters’ Log
Ahlers (22 games) and CB Malik Fleming (15) own the program’s longest starting streaks on offense and defense entering the Tulane matchup … Through five games, seven players have registered their first career starts for the Pirates – OL Isaiah Foote, OL Justin Redd, WR Jaylen Johnson, TE Ryan Jones, DL Shaundre Mims, WR Isaiah Winstead, SAF Julius Wood … East Carolina used 21 different starters on defense in 2021 (17 on offense) in 2021.
East Carolina returns to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Saturday, Oct. 15, for its Homecoming contest against Memphis which will air on ESPNU. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.