Pirates look for two in a row at home against Temple on Saturday

ECU Pirates

(ECU Sports Information photo)

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GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina will try to extend its American Athletic Conference home winning streak to four in a row – the Pirates’ longest run of success at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium as a member of the league – when it hosts Temple for a 3 p.m. matchup Saturday.

ECU will also attempt to post its first-ever home AAC victory over the Owls (0-3) and secure its highest overall single-season win total since 2015. The tilt against Temple will precede a two-game roadswing for the Pirates, who will visit Memphis (Nov. 13) and Navy (Nov. 20) to close out their 2021 “away” schedule.

EAST CAROLINA RECORDS AND STREAKS

Has forced at least one turnover in 16-straight games (and in 27 of the last 28) …
Has netted at least one interception in nine of the last 10 games (16 picks in span) …
Has posted second-half shutouts in back-to-back games (Houston, South Florida) …
Has converted 24 of 27 of its 2021 redzone visits into points (14 TDs, 10 FGs) …
Has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 10-straight games (21 TD strikes in span) …
Looking for its first 3-2 American Athletic Conference “start” since 2014 …
Looking to clinch its 40th winning campaign at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (a first since 2014) …
Looking to post successive wins over Temple for the first time since 1994-95 …

THE SERIES
Officially, the series is tied 9-9 … On the fi eld however, the Owls have captured wins in 10 of the 18 matchups, but their 45-28 victory in 1986 was later forfeited to the Pirates because of the utilization of an ineligible player … ECU is 6-4 against Temple in Philadelphia, but only has triumphs in three of eight meetings in Greenville … In American Athletic Conference play since 2014, the Owls are 6-1 against the Pirates (3-0 at DFS).

MIKE HOUSTON AGAINST THE OWLS
East Carolina’s 27-17 loss vs. Temple in 2019 and the Pirates’ 28-3 convincing win in Philadelphia last year serves as Mike Houston’s only prior meetings against the Owls.

ROD CAREY AGAINST THE PIRATES
Saturday’s tilt will also mark Rod Carey’s second matchup against the Pirates (2019, 2020).

COMPARING 10-YEAR, EIGHT GAME RESULTS
East Carolina’s 29-14 victory over South Florida improved the Pirates’ record to 4-4 for the first time since 2015 … A triumph over Temple would give ECU a 5-4 ledger – the first winning mark through nine contests since 2014 (6-3), which was also the year the Pirates made their last bowl appearance (Birmingham). On the flipside, a loss against the Owls would also be only the second time in the last 10 years the Pirates “opened” a season at 4-5 (also 2015).

AT DOWDY-FICKLEN STADIUM
East Carolina’s all-time record at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is 195-110 (.639) … 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 3-1 clip this year, a 1-3 record last year 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 39 winning campaigns at DFS since 1963.

THE PIRATE NATION – OVER 9 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 9,050,993 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 2,779,704 fans.

HALL OF FAME WEEKEND – HONORING GREATS OF THE PAST
Six individuals will be inducted into the ECU Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday and recognized at halftime of Saturday’s contest at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium as part of the annual Hall of Fame/Letterwinners’ Weekend … Those inducted this year include Bill Clark (philanthropist), Ruffin McNeill (FB), Toni Paisley (SB), Keisha Shepperson-Stewart (SB), Jacob Smith (SW) and Kelley Wernert-Krainiak (VB).

AMONG AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE 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 currently ranks third in 2021 (trailing only UCF and Cincinnati) … The Pirates led the AAC in regular season attendance average three times – 2014, 2016 and 2017.

AGAINST NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS
The Pirates have produced a 40-58 (.408) regular season non-league record, which includes a 2-2 clip in 2021 … East Carolina fell 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.

SHUTOUT-FREE … 295 AND COUNTING
East Carolina will enter the Temple contest with an active streak of 295 games of not suffering a shutout – a school record (previous mark was 110 set from ’71-’81) … The last time the Pirates were blanked was on Oct. 4, 1997 (56-0 at Syracuse) … ECU’s 295-game run currently ranks among the Top 10 nationally (Florida is first with 419).

CHARTING THE PIRATES MONTH-BY-MONTH
In all, East Carolina is 3-3-0 in August, 131-122-1 in September, 165-166-4 in October, 142-132-5 in November, 9-10-0 in December and 1-4-0 in January … The Pirates will open November play against Temple, a month in which East Carolina has lost 16 of its last 22 contests (and 19 of 27 since the 2013 campaign) … At home, ECU has won three (Cincinnati/2017, UConn/2018, SMU/2020) of its last seven, but has also dropped nine of the last 12 dating back to 2015 (including three of four in the Mike Houston era) … Overall, the Pirates are 8-19 vs. the AAC in Month 11.

A STARTERS’ LOG
QB Holton Ahlers (13 games) and ILB Bruce Bivens (13) own the program’s longest starting streaks on offense and defense entering the Temple matchup … Tyler Snead’s 22-game run came to an end vs. USF (ECU opened the contest in a double TE set).

2021 PIRATE GRADUATES (11)
OL Sean Bailey, ILB Bruce Bivens, WR Cam Burnette, TE Zech Byrd, RB/WR Maceo Donald, OL Bailey Malovic, WR Audie Omotosho, ILB Aaron Ramseur, SAF Warren Saba, WR Tyler Snead, P Jonn Young.

THE MIKE HOUSTON (GROUND) STAMP OF APPROVAL
East Carolina’s 1,302-yard rushing total in 2021 marks the program’s fifth-highest eight-game clip since 2000 … In addition, the Pirates have posted nine (9) 200-yard rushing contests in the Mike Houston era (2/2019, 5/2020, 2/2021).

TRIPLE-DIGIT MAGIC
Keaton Mitchell (124/CIN, 103/TEM in 2020 and 135/MAR, 125/CSU, 222/TLN in 2021) became the first Pirates’ RB in eight years to post five career 100-yard rushing contests when he eclipsed triple digits vs. Tulane on Oct. 2 … Rahjai Harris tallied his fourth (22-100) vs. USF last week, marking the first time since 2003 that East Carolina features teammates with at least four each (Marvin Townes/5, Art Brown/4) … Individually, Dominique Lindsay posted five in 2009 for the most recent single-season best.

LIVING A PIRATES’ LIFE
After having its 11-game streak with at least one takeaway snapped during the ’20 season opener vs. UCF, East Carolina’s defense started a new run by generating at least one turnover in the final eighth-straight contests last year … In all, the Pirates will enter this week’s Temple clash having forced a TO in 16 consecutive games, the longest since a 33-game run (from 2007 to 2010).

AMONG TOP PASSING UNITS IN AMERICAN HISTORY
Since joining the American Athletic Conference in 2014, the Pirates stand second in passing yards over a combined seven-plus year period despite utilizing nine starting quarterbacks, four offensive coordinators and three head coaches: 1. Memphis (28,722), 2. East Carolina (27,089), 3. UCF (25,115), 4. SMU (24,726), 5. Cincinnati (23,948), 6. Houston (23,932), 7. Tulsa (22,889), 8. Temple (21,795), 9. South Florida (19,330), 10. Tulane (17,167) and 11. Navy (7,710) … However, the Pirates top the league in completions (2,288) and attempts (3,799) … ECU has also accounted for a conference-high 18 400-yard passing games and surpassed the 300-yard mark on 47 occasions during the 87-game span … On a related note, the top two receivers in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history by career receptions – Zay Jones (399 from 2013-16) and Justin Hardy (387 from 2011-2014) – are former East Carolina players.

HEY, THESE GUYS LOOK FAMILIAR
TE Aaron Jarman, who made his first ECU start last week vs. USF, began his collegiate career at Temple (20 games, six starts) before transferring to East Carolina prior to the 2021 season … He had two career catches for the Owls, both TDS (Bucknell & SMU), while also tallying a pair of special teams tackles (ECU & Tulane) … Jarman earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Temple on May 6, 2021 and is currently enrolled in ECU’s MBA program.

LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE
Keaton Mitchell currently stands fourth at the FBS level in yards per carry average, netting 7.3 yards per attempt … He has a team-leading nine carries that have surpassed 20 or more yards, four which have eclipsed 60 (88-TD/Marshall, 74-TD/Charleston Southern, 68-TD/Tulane, 62/Tulane) … His 222-yard rushing performance vs. Tulane on Oct. 2 were the most by a Pirate RB since first-round draft choice Chris Johnson racked up 223 against Boise State in the 2007 Hawai’i Bowl.

A COMEBACK FOR THE AGES
East Carolina put together its biggest fourth-quarter comeback (-17, 38-21 with 7:30 left) in ECU history during Pirates’ 42-38 win at Marshall on Sept. 18 since rallying past NC State 37-34 (-17, 34-17 with 7:26 left) on Jan. 1, 1992 to capture the Peach Bowl at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

MISC… FROM THE TREASURE CHEST
PK Owen Daffer had a pair of career-high scoring contests (10 vs. Tulane & UCF in back-to-back weeks) and has now accounted for a team-best 56 points this season … ECU racked up 310 rushing yards vs. Tulane (the most since running for 491 at Memphis on Nov. 3, 2007) before following up with 251 against USF three games later … With QB Holton Ahlers’ 17-yard TD toss to WR Audie Omotosho vs. South Florida, ECU has now thrown at least one TD pass in 10-straight games (21 TD strikes overall during the run) … CB Malik Fleming’s 31-yard interception return for a TD vs. USF was ECU’s second of the season (CB Ja’Quan McMillian vs. CSU), the most Pirate “pick-sixes” in a season since 2015 … P Luke Larsen (29) ranks as the fourth-oldest player at the FBS level in 2021 (only younger than Vanderbilt TE Tommy Smith/32, Oklahoma State P Tom Hutton/ 30 and USC P Ben Griffiths/30) … WR Tyler Snead, who had 244 all-purpose yards vs. Temple in 2020, now has at least one catch in 29-straight games (10th nationally).

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