GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina looks to secure a winning regular season record Saturday afternoon when it takes aim at Temple inside Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the contest will stream on ESPN+ with Richard Cross (play-by-play) and Taylor McHargue (analyst) handling the broadcast duties.

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ECU football’s latest bowl projections after Week 12

ECU coach talks loss to Houston, preps for regular-season finale with Temple

ECU notebook: Good and bad from loss to Houston

ECU is under the direction of fourth-year head coach Mike Houston.

A win would give East Carolina its second-straight seven-win campaign and third four-win season in American Athletic Conference play since joining the league.

The Pirates (6-5, 3-4 AAC) fell to Houston 42-3 last Saturday in their final appearance of the season at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Cougar quarterback Clayton Tune threw for 435 yards and four touchdowns while East Carolina’s Keaton Mitchell posted 128 rushing yards to eclipse the century mark for the fifth-straight contest.

Temple (3-8, 1-6 AAC) dropped a 23-3 decision to Cincinnati at home last Saturday, racking up just 202 yards of total offense and using a Camden Price 43-yard field goal in the second quarter to avoid the shutout.

East Carolina Records, Streaks and Trends

  • Has earned bowl eligibility for the second-straight year under Mike Houston (first consecutive bowl appearances since 2012-14)
  • Has won seven of its last 12 AAC games (4 of 5/2021; 3 of 7/2022)
  • Has allowed only 11 fourth-quarter offensive touchdowns in the last 17 games
  • Has surrendered just 13 points in the fourth quarter in the last four contests
  • Has outscored its opponents 165-134 in the second half and overtime this year (+31)
  • Has forced at least one turnover in 27 of the last 31 games (and in 38 of the last 43)
  • Snapped more offensive plays than its opponents (766-720/+46)

The Series
ECU officially leads the all-time series 10-9. On the field however, the Owls have captured wins in 10 of the 19 matchups, but their 45-28 victory in 1986 was later forfeited to the Pirates because of the utilization of an ineligible player. East Carolina is 6-4 against Temple in Philadelphia, but only has triumphs in four of nine meetings in Greenville. In American Athletic Conference play since 2014, the Owls are 6-2 against the Pirates (3-1 in Philly).

Mike Houston Against The Owls
Since taking over as East Carolina’s head coach, Mike Houston owns a 2-1 record against Temple.

Stan Drayton Against The Pirates
Saturday’s tilt will mark the first time Stan Drayton has faced the Pirates.

Last Meeting (Nov. 6, 2021)
A swarming East Carolina defense limited Temple to a paltry 168 total yards and kept the Owls out of the endzone on the way to a convincing 45-3 American Athletic Conference victory on a chilly and blustery afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The home triumph was the Pirates’ first against Temple as AAC members, and overall, the first since 1995. ECU’s bid for a shutout came up short with 6:55 remaining in the game on a Rory Bell 46-yard field goal that followed a Temple interception return to the Pirate 29-yard line. Offensively, quarterback Holton Ahlers (four) and running back Keaton Mitchell (two) collectively accounted for all six of East Carolina’s touchdowns and 370 of the Pirates’ 444 total yards. Ahlers completed 16-of-24 passes for 191 yards and three scores, connecting with tight ends Ryan Jones (two) and Shane Calhoun on the trio of touchdown tosses, while also reaching the endzone on a one-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Mitchell turned in his fourth triple-digit outing of the campaign with 146 yards on 18 carries and reached paydirt from 57 and four yards out. After stalling out on their first two drives of the contest, the Pirates cashed in six of their next eight possessions with touchdowns to enjoy a comfortable 42-0 lead with 12:27 to play. Of the Owls’ 13 possessions, ECU forced five “three-and-outs” and limited Temple to 20 yards or less on 10 occasions. The Owls crossed midfield only five times, but missed a pair of field goal attempts, were stopped on fourth down and punted before finally getting on the board via Bell’s three-pointer. In terms of margin, East Carolina’ 42-point victory was its greatest as an AAC member – besting a 41-3 win over former league opponent UConn in 2016.

Houston Leftovers (Team)
East Carolina fell to 7-9 all time against Houston and 3-5 versus the Cougars in Greenville … Finished a run of four-straight games against teams headed to the Big 12 Conference in 2023, picking up wins over BYU and UCF… Have forced at least one turnover in 27 of the last 31 games (and 38 of the last 43) … Produced its fifth-straight game without a turnover … Did not commit a penalty in a game for the first time since Dec. 22, 2012 against Louisiana-Lafayette in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – a span of 117 games … East Carolina did not register a first-half score for the first time this campaign and the first time since a 59-3 road loss at NC State on Dec. 1, 2018 … Over last three contests, has scored just 26 second half points and only three in the fourth quarter.

Houston Leftovers (Individual)
QB Holton Ahlers completed 15 of 30 attempts for 182 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions … Upped his season passing yards total to 3,094 – the eighth most in a single season in program history … Currently he owns three of the top 10 ECU single-season passing yards performances … RB Keaton Mitchell racked up a team-best 128 yards on 14 carries with a long run of 37 yards … He has produced five-straight 100-yard performances, seven this season and 13 for his career … Surpassed 1,000 yards for the season, becoming the first Pirate since Tay Cooper (2012-13) to record consecutive 1,000 yard campaigns … Currently seventh on the program’s career rushing yards list, finishing the afternoon with 2,678 – 52 behind Theodore Sutton for sixth … PK Laith Marjan made his season and career debut, tallying two kickoffs for 129 yards (64.5 average) and a touchback … SAF Gerard Stringer collected a team-high nine tackles (four solo), including half a TFL (-1 yard) and a quarterback hurry … DL Immanuel Hickman and DL Chad Stephens notched a pair of TFLs each … CB Juan Powell tallied his first interception of the season and second of his career in the first quarter.

Band On The Run
East Carolina is averaging 166.0 rushing yards per game heading into the Temple contest … Spreading that over a 12-game regular season (1,992), this year’s Pirates would have the third-most yards in program history since 2001. A year ago, ECU totaled 1,949 yards on the ground marking the program’s fourth-highest regular season clip since 2000 … In addition, the Pirates have posted 11 200-yard rushing contests in the Mike Houston era (2/2019, 5/2020, 3/2021, 1/2022).

Among Regular Season Select Company
With one game left in the 2022 regular season, Keaton Mitchell’s 1,103 rushing yards ranks as the fifth-highest ground total by an East Carolina running back during the regular season. Last year, he ran for 1,132 yards which was the third-best total during regular season action … He is the lone Pirate running back with consecutive 1K campaigns before post-season play.

13K-1K Club Membership
Ahlers is the lone active FBS quarterback who has passed for 13,000+ yards and rushed for over 1,000 for his (overall career) and one of six active 10K/1K QBs. He is also the only active FBS QB with over 14,500 total yards.

Looking For More Loot
Heading into the Temple game, East Carolina is currently +8 on the season in takeaways. The Pirates have forced nine fumbles, recovering five and picked off 10 passes for 139 return yards. In its last home outing (vs. UCF), ECU forced a season-high four turnovers (3 interceptions, 1 fumble) and registered its fourth multi-turnover game of the season.

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 (36,009), 2. East Carolina (31,382), 3. SMU (29,330), 4. Houston (29,133), 5. UCF (28,778), 6. Cincinnati (28,415), 7. Tulsa (27,014), 8. Temple (24,921), 9. South Florida (22,435), 10. Tulane (20,449) and 11. Navy (8,896). However, the Pirates top the league in completions (2,652) and attempts (4,348). ECU has also accounted for a conference-high 20 400-yard passing games and surpassed the 300-yard mark on 53 occasions during the 101-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.