Pirates look to end frustrations with Navy, pick up another victory

ECU Pirates

Touchdown Friday

More Touchdown Friday

GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina will try to extend its American Athletic Conference winning streak to four in a row – the Pirates’ longest run of single-season success in membership history (2014-21) – when it visits Navy for a 3:30 p.m. (ET) matchup Saturday.

ECU will also attempt to secure its seventh triumph, its highest overall victory total since 2014, and guarantee its first winning campaign in seven years. Lastly, the tilt against the Mids officially closes out the Pirates’ 2021 regular season road slate before they return home to welcome nationally-ranked Cincinnati at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium next Friday.

EAST CAROLINA RECORDS AND STREAKS

Has not allowed a 4th-quarter TD in the last four games (+43/65-22 vs. all AAC opps in ’21) …
Has allowed only 13 points (1 TD) in the second half of the last four games (3.3 ppg) …
Has allowed only 15.3 points per game in its last three contests …
Has forced at least one turnover in 17 of the last 18 games (and in 28 of the last 30) …
Has a decisive time of possession edge in five of its six AAC games (+12:14 avg.) …
Has +11.7 ppg, +73.0 rypg, +66.5 pypg and +139.5 typg cumulative margins in all six AAC games …
Has snapped more offensive plays in eight of 10 games in ’21 (+80 in the last three contests) …
Has averaged 228.7 rushing yards in its last three games (251/USF, 246/TEM, 189/MEM) …

THE SERIES
Navy leads 7-1 … The Midshipmen posted 28-23 and 76-35 victories to open the series in 2006 and 2010, respectively, before ECU used Dominique Davis’ record-setting 40-of-45 passing effort to post its first (and only) win in 2011 … Navy triumphs in ’15, ’16, ’19 and ’20 marked the first AAC matchups between the two programs.

MIKE HOUSTON AGAINST THE MIDS
ECU’s 42-10 and 27-23 setbacks in 2019 and 2020, respectively, serves as Mike Houston’s only prior meetings against the Midshipmen … During his earlier eight-year tenure as a NCAA Division II and FCS collegiate head coach, the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears, The Citadel Bulldogs and James Madison Dukes never competed against Navy.

NIUMATALOLO AGAINST THE PIRATES
Ken Niumatalolo will face East Carolina as a head coach for the eighth (6-1) time Saturday … He was on Paul Johnson’s staff as an assistant head coach during the series opener in 2006, but did not square off against the Pirates during his earlier full-time tenures at Hawai’i (1992-94) or UNLV (1999-2001).

AN ECU & NAVY COACHING CONNECTION … WITH A KENNESAW TWIST
Both Navy (Brian Newberry) and East Carolina (Blake Harrell) currently employ defensive coordinators who recently took over respective unit leadership positions after directing successful defenses at FCS member Kennesaw (Ga.) State … Newberry (2013-18) preceded Harrell (2019) as both helped the Owls to playoff bids:
Newberry Notes: helped lead KSU to successive FCS quarterfinal playoff appearances in 2017 and 2018 (11-2 record) … Owls ranked first (FCS) nationally in fewest fi rst downs allowed per game (13.5), second in total defense (263.7 ypg), seventh in scoring defense (15.4 ppg) and 11th in 3rd-down conversion defense (28.9) in 2018.

Harrell Notes: helped guide the Owls to a FCS second-round playoff appearance in 2019 (11-3) … KSU stood third nationally in total defense (278.7 ypg), fifth in rush defense (88.9 ypg), 10th in scoring defense (18.7 ppg), 11th in tackles for loss (104), 13th in turnovers forced (25) and 17th in 3rd-down defense (33.0) in 2019.

COMPARING 10-YEAR, 10-GAME RESULTS
East Carolina’s 30-29 overtime win at Memphis improved the Pirates’ record to 6-4, the program’s first winning mark through 10 games since 2014 (7-3) and bowl eligibility status for the first time since that same campaign (Birmingham Bowl) … A triumph over Navy would give ECU a 7-4 ledger, matching its third-best record in the last 10 years (9-2/2013, 8-3/2014, 7-4/2012 … On the flipside, a loss against Navy would be the first time since 2010 that East Carolina would be 6-5 after 11 contests.

ON THE ROAD
Since becoming a conference member in 1997, East Carolina is 61-97 (.386) when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium … The Pirates have a 2-3 road slate in 2021 (wins at Marshall and Memphis; losses to Appalachian State, UCF and Houston) … From an American Athletic Conference standpoint, ECU has dropped 13 of the last 18, but on the flipside, the Pirates posted two “away” league triumphs in the same season last year for the first time since 2015 after downing USF 44-24 in the road opener before dismissing Temple 28-3 in the road finale.

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 9,083,810 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 2,812,521 fans.

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 … 297 AND COUNTING
East Carolina will enter the Navy contest with an active streak of 297 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 297-game run currently ranks among the Top 10 nationally (Florida is first with 421).

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, 144-132-5 in November, 9-10-0 in December and 1-4-0 in January … The Pirates continue November play against Navy, a month in which East Carolina has now won two-straight (but also lost 16 of its last 24 contests … On the road, ECU will look to make four wins in its last five outings after downing UConn (’19), falling to Cincinnati (’20), routing Temple (’20) and edging Memphis (’21) in its last quartet of November “away” tilts … Overall, the Pirates are 10-19 vs. the AAC in Month 11.

A STARTERS’ LOG
QB Holton Ahlers (15 games) and CB Malik Fleming (8) own the program’s longest starting streaks on offense and defense entering the Navy matchup … IR Tyler Snead’s 22-game run came to an end vs. USF (ECU opened the contest in a double TE set), while CB Ja’Quan McMillian’s’ 12-game streak was halted at Memphis.

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.

RUSHING TO PROGRESS
East Carolina’s 1,737-yard rushing total in 2021 marks the program’s third-highest 10-game clip since 2000 … In addition, the Pirates have posted 10 200-yard rushing contests in the Mike Houston era (2/2019, 5/2020, 3/2021).

TRIPLE-DIGIT MAGIC
Keaton Mitchell (124/CIN, 103/TEM in 2020 and 135/MAR, 125/CSU, 222/TLN, 146/TEM in 2021) became the first Pirates’ RB in eight years to post six career 100-yard rushing contests when he eclipsed triple digits vs. Temple on Nov. 6 … Rahjai Harris tallied his fourth (22-100) vs. USF a week earlier, 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.

THE 1K MILESTONE
Keaton Mitchell will also enter the Navy contest needing just 17 rushing yards to become the first East Carolina running back since 2013 to rack up 1,000 in a single season … In all, 16 Pirates have eclipsed the four-digit ground yard mark in ECU history beginning with Dave Alexander (1,029) in 1965.

LOOKING FOR MORE LOOT
Despite its impressive 45-3 win, East Carolina’s 16-game streak of forcing at least one turnover came to a halt against Temple two weeks ago … The run, which began on Oct. 3, 2020 at Georgia State and produced 36 takeaways (22 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries), was the program’s longest since a 33-game streak (from 2007 to 2010) … In all, ECU still has at least one takeaway in 17 of the last 18 and 28 of the last 30contests and perhaps started a new streak with a Ja’Quan McMillian pick at Memphis.

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 (29,387), 2. East Carolina (27,604), 3. UCF (25,553), 4. SMU (25,378), 5. Houston (24,546), 6. Cincinnati (24,526), 7. Tulsa (23,226), 8. Temple (21,971), 9. South Florida (19,864), 10. Tulane (17,492) and 11. Navy (7,728) … However, the Pirates top the league in completions (2,333) and attempts (3,870) … ECU has also accounted for a conference-high 18 400-yard passing games and surpassed the 300-yard mark on 48 occasions during the 89-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.

SWISS ARMY KNIFE & RECEPTION STREAK
Slot receiver/return specialist Tyler Snead has averaged 113.7 all-purpose yards in his last 15 games (244 vs. Temple alone in ’20) … On offense, Snead has caught at least one pass in 31 consecutive games (dating back to 2019) – tops on the unit and currently the 9th-longest streak at the FBS level.

LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE
Keaton Mitchell currently stands fourth at the FBS level in yards per carry average, netting 7.39 yards per attempt … He has a team-leading 11 carries that have surpassed 20 or more yards, five which have eclipsed 50 (88-TD/Marshall, 74-TD/Charleston Southern, 68-TD/Tulane, 62/Tulane, 57-TD/Temple) … 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.

NO PASSING ZONE
Cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian continues to lead all of FBS in passes defended and stands 2nd in both total interceptions (5) and interceptions per game (0.50) … He’s already enjoyed a streak of picking off a pass in three-straight games (Marshall, Charleston Southern and Tulane), while also netting INTs vs. Appalachian State and Memphis … In addition, McMillian leads all Pirate defenders in tackles with 49 and was selected as one of 12 semifinalists for the 2021 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award on Oct. 25.

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
ECU’s 45-3 win (+42) over Temple on Nov. 6 was the Pirates’ biggest AAC victory (by margin) in its membership (since 2014), surpassing a 41-3 (+38) triumph over UConn on 10/29/16 … 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 (USF) and 246 (TEM) – an average of 269.0 per AAC home game in ’21 … 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 … TE Shane Calhoun (114/MAR) and TE Ryan Jones (102/TEM) marks first time since 1990 that the Pirates have had at least two 100-yd receiving games by a TE in one season (Luke Fisher had both in ’90 – 112/FSU, 109/UGA) … Jones’ 4 TDs are the most by an Pirate TE since 2015 (Bryce Williams/4).

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

LKQD Outstream

Trending Stories

news-app-download-apple-350x50news-app-download-android-350x50