WASHINGTON – East Carolina University will represent the American Athletic Conference in the 2021 Military Bowl presented by Peraton, benefiting the USO. ECU accepted the invitation on Saturday, the school announced.
The Pirates will make their first bowl appearance since the 2014 season against an opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference on Monday, December 27 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on ESPN.
“We are ecstatic to invite East Carolina and expect to welcome a large contingent of Pirates fans to the National Capital Region,” Military Bowl President & Executive Director Steve Beck said. “East Carolina is in the midst of a terrific season and we can sense the excitement surrounding the team. We look forward to a great Bowl Week and game.”
East Carolina (7-5) enjoyed its most successful regular season in seven years, highlighted by a recent four-game winning streak that included a thrilling 38-35 win at Navy. East Carolina features a high-powered offense led by quarterback Holton Ahlers, who has passed for 3,126 yards and 18 touchdowns while running back Keaton Mitchell has rushed for 1,131 yards and nine touchdowns. Defensively, the Pirates have surrendered just 26.3 points per game in 2021, their fewest since 2015.
“We are thrilled to accept an invitation to the Military Bowl and represent East Carolina University, our community and all of eastern North Carolina,” East Carolina Director of Athletics Jon Gilbert said. “Steve Beck and his Military Bowl staff are well-known for producing a first-class bowl experience and we appreciate the opportunity for postseason play against an ACC opponent.
“The Pirate football program is ascending under Mike Houston’s leadership. We have all witnessed the growth and improvement over the past three years and today’s announcement is a culmination of the hard work, sacrifice and dedication of the young men in our football program. We are looking forward to Pirate Nation joining us on this Military Bowl experience.”
This will be the Pirates’ second appearance in the Military Bowl. East Carolina fell to Maryland, 51-20, in the 2010 game, which set a Bowl attendance record with 38,062 fans.
The Pirates have several ties to the Washington area, including six players from the region. Coach Mike Houston was honored as the DC Touchdown Club College Coach of the Year after leading James Madison to the Football Championship Subdivision National Championship in 2016.
“I’m excited for the young men in our program along with our coaches, staff and administration who have worked tirelessly over the last three years for this opportunity,” Houston said. “Everybody involved with our program put in the time and commitment to make this a season to remember. This is a chance for our football program to face an ACC opponent within driving distance for many in Pirate Nation. There’s no doubt Purple and Gold will represent in Annapolis.”
Tickets are on sale now. Proceeds from the Bowl benefit the USO and Patriot Point, the Military Bowl Foundation’s retreat for wounded, ill and injured service members, their families and caregivers.