GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — East Carolina University football took down Old Dominion 39-21 on Saturday, earning them their first win of the season.

There were some huge improvements on the Pirates’ end between Saturday night’s game and ECU’s first game, as they were looking to redeem themselves after their heartbreaking 21-20 loss to N.C. State.

“That was a pretty dominant performance by our kids, really pleased with the effort, ECU coach Mike Houston said in Saturday’s postgame press conference. “We all had a bad taste in our mouth all week long over that game last week.

“For us to play as well as we did, really outplay the opponent, and especially one of the caliber of N.C. State and then not get the win, it was tough.”

Ahlers, Mitchell star for ECU in win over Old Dominion

‘It was pretty special’: ECU kicker receives ovation against ODU

Some notable differences between the two games:

Owen Daffer

Daffer struggled in the game against N.C. State, missing a crucial extra point and a field goal that would’ve secured the win for the Pirates. Despite that, when he came in for his first field goal Saturday night on the Pirates’ first possession, he nailed the 22-yard field goal, earning a loud cheer from Pirate fans.

Holton Ahlers’ passing game

Ahlers completed 25 of 39 attempts for 270 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions, a notable improvement after throwing two interceptions last weekend. He now holds 10,756 passing yards, just 27 yards away from setting the American Athletic Conference record.


ECU’S defense recorded four sacks against the Monarchs.

Fourth-down conversions

The Pirates completed two out of three attempts on fourth down, two of which came in the first half.

Keaton Mitchell’s 81-yard TD run ‘Best Play of the Game’

In the fourth quarter, Mitchell broke through for an 81-yard touchdown on just the second play of the possession to put the nail in the coffin, giving the Pirates a 29-14 lead. Along with this, Rahjai Harris rushed in for a 15-yard touchdown just 14 seconds later.

“You just knew that Keaton was going to have a big run, 30 seconds before he popped the run, I’m sitting here thinking like, ‘He’s just got to pop some point,’ because you felt like you were close,” Houston said. “Once he got in the secondary, you knew what was going to happen. It’s a great job by him by being patient all night and not getting frustrated.

“Last week was frustrating running the football, but those kids are so team-oriented. I’m just happy to see Rahjai (Harris) and Keaton have that success there in the second half and we all know that success comes from our offensive line wearing down Old Dominion in the second half. That’s why all that stuff happens.”

ECU will welcome Campbell on Saturday at 6 p.m.

(Videos by Ryan Carter)