GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The East Carolina football team is set to open American Athletic Conference play against Navy on Saturday night.
The Pirates are 2-1 after routing Campbell, 49-10, last weekend. The Midshipmen (0-2) are looking for their first win of the season. The Pirates are 17-point favorites in this matchup.
Last year’s game between ECU and Navy went down to the wire. It was a huge day for then-freshman kicker Owen Daffer, who made a 54-yard field goal as time expired to give the Pirates a 38-35 win. After the game, Daffer learned he’d be going on scholarship at the end of the season.
Daffer, now a sophomore, has connected on two of his three field goals and 12 of his 15 extra-point attempts this season. His only missed field goal attempt, and one of his missed extra-point attempts proved costly in a season-opening loss to N.C. State. The next week, Pirate fans welcomed him to the field with a standing ovation, which impressed head coach Mike Houston.
Navy holds a 7-2 advantage all-time against ECU. The Pirates are 0-4 against the Midshipmen in Greenville.
The Midshipmen are playing their first road game of the season this weekend. They lost to Deleware 14-7 in the season opener and then fell to Memphis 37-13.
Navy is led by 25th-year head coach Ken Niumatalolo.
Navy utilizes a run-heavy offense. The Midshipmen are averaging roughly 200 yards rushing through two games this season. Like ECU, they’re also strong against the run, holding opponents to 52 yards rushing per game so far this year. That’s the fourth-best mark in the nation (ECU ranks No. 20 against the run, allowing 83. 7 yards per game).
But the Navy defense has struggled in other areas. In Navy’s most recent loss, Memphis quarterback Seth Henigan tallied 415 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Leading the way on defense for the Midshipmen is senior striker (safety-linebacker hybrid) John Marshall, who has recorded a team-high 22 tackles, two sacks, two hurries and one pass breakup. Junior defensive end Jacob Busic has recorded a team-high 2.5 sacks.
Saturday’s game is set to begin at 6 p.m., and it will be broadcast on ESPN+. 9OYS will have complete coverage from the game at 10 and 11 p.m. Saturday night.