GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina looks to notch its first victory of the 2022 campaign Saturday night when it welcomes Old Dominion to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for a non-conference contest. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. and the game will stream live via ESPN+ with Shawn Kennedy (play-by-play) and Jay Sonnhalter (analyst) on the call.
The Pirates are under the direction of fourth-year head coach Mike Houston.
ECU came up a few feet short of an upset in its season and home opener last Saturday, falling to then No. 13 NC State 21-20 before a program record crowd of 57,711. Bolstered by two goal-line stands and an interception, the Pirates clawed back from a 21-7 halftime deficit and saw a potential game-winning field-goal attempt sail wide right with under 10 seconds remaining on the clock.
Senior quarterback Holton Ahlers completed 25 of 41 pass attempts to set the American Athletic Conference career mark for completions (837) while also establishing the league’s record for career total plays (1,851).
ODU (1-0) rolls into town off a 20-17 home victory over Virginia Tech last Friday in its season opener.
East Carolina Records, Streaks and Trends
- Has allowed only three 4th-quarter offensive TDs in the last seven games dating back to the 2021 season
- Has forced at least one turnover in 19 of the last 21 games (and in 30 of the last 31)
- Has held the edge in time of possession for six-straight contests (32:18 vs. NC State)
- Is averaging 38,295 fans per game since the start of 2021 season
East Carolina leads the all-time series between the schools by a 3-0 margin. During Mike Houston’s initial season with the Pirates, his defense booked 11 tackles for loss which included four sacks spearheading a 24-21 win in Norfolk. In the first meeting between the two schools, the Pirates used a then-school-record passing performance (447 yards, 46 completions) from Shane Carden to open the series with a victory in Greenville (2013) before benefitting from Jake Verity’s game-winning field goal in 2018.
Houston Against The Monarchs
Mike Houston is 1-0 all-time against Old Dominion as a head coach. Houston and the Pirates earned a 24-21 win back in 2019 that snapped a 10-game road losing streak.
Rahne Against The Pirates
Ricky Rahne has not faced East Carolina as a head coach.
East Carolina Against The Sun Belt Conference
East Carolina has compiled an all-time record of 36-34 (.514) against current members of the Sun Belt Conference. The Pirates are 3-0 against Old Dominion, 11-5 vs. Marshall, 3-0 vs. Georgia Southern, 2-0 vs. Arkansas State, 1-0 vs. Texas State, 0-1 vs. Georgia State, 0-1 vs. James Madison 4-7 vs. Louisiana and 12-20 vs. Appalachian State. Since taking over the helm of the program, Mike Houston is 2-2 (.500) against Sun Belt teams, including a split last year with a season-opening loss against Appalachian State (33-19) and a road win at Marshall (42-38).
What We Have (2002)
ECU returns a perfect 100 percent of its ground yards in 2022 which were responsible for the Pirates’ 1,949-yard net total – the program’s fifth-highest clip since 2000 and best since 2014
ECU returns 98 percent of its total yards (5,101 of 5,198) in 2022
ECU returns 97 percent (3,147 of 3,249) of its passing yards in 2022
Of ECU’s 43 touchdowns last year, 35 (81 percent) were scored by players who return in 2022
Of ECU’s 21 takeaways last year, eight were tallied by defenders who return in 2022
Both Pirates who earned First Team All-American Athletic Conference honors last year return in 2022 (placekicker Owen Daffer and running back Keaton Mitchell
Among 2021 individual Top 25 national (FBS) statistical leaders, the following return in 2022 – RB Keaton Mitchell (ninth in rushing yards per carry/6.51), PK Owen Daffer (18th in field goals made per game/1.58) and QB Holton Ahlers (19th in passing yards per game/260.5 and 21st in completions per game/21.3)
ECU’s defensive unit, which returns seven of 11 starters in 2022, held two opponents under 100 yards rushing and two more under the 100-yard passing mark in 2021.
What To Look For (2002)
- Ahlers needs just 1,506 passing yards to become ECU’s career leader, surpassing Shane Carden’s mark of 11,991 set from 2011 to 2014
- Ahlers needs only 167 ground yards to set ECU’s all-time quarterback rushing record, eclipsing Leander Green’s (1977-1979) total of 1,485
- Ahlers needs only 437 total yards to establish an ECU career total offense standard, bettering Carden’s clip of 12,244
A Single-Game Record Breaker
With an attendance of 51,711 against NC State last weekend, ECU established a single-game home record – surpassing the 51,082 who watched the Pirates beat North Carolina on Sept. 20, 2014. In all, East Carolina has enjoyed sell-out crowds for 13 contests since Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium was expanded in 2010.
At Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
East Carolina’s all-time record at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is 196-112 (.636). 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 Nine 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 9,173,535 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 2,902,246 fans.
Among AAC Attendance Leaders
East Carolina has been among the leaders in attendance every season since becoming a member of the American Athletic Conference in 2014 and ranks first in 2022.
Against Non-Conference Opponents
The Pirates have produced a 40-59 (.404) regular season non-league record, which includes an 0-1 clip in 2022. Last year the Pirates split their four non-conference games, falling to Appalachian State and South Carolina to open the season before rallying back to post victories against Marshall and Charleston Southern. During his first season as head coach at ECU in 2019, Mike Houston led the Pirates to a 3-1 record – the program’s first winning non-conference ledger since 2014.
East Carolina continues its four-game homestand Saturday, Sept. 17, with a matchup against regional non-conference foe Campbell. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will stream live on ESPN+.