Pirates looking for two in a row, host Charleston Southern Saturday evening

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GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina will complete its 2021 non-conference schedule by welcoming Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) member Charleston Southern to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for a 6 p.m. kickoff Saturday.

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The Pirates have won two straight against FCS members, both occurring during head coach Mike Houston’s first season at ECU in 2019, after dropping two in a row in previous years (2017 & 2018). ECU will open its American Athletic Conference slate by hosting Tulane on Oct. 2 before playing back-to-back road contests at UCF and Houston sandwiched with a bye week.

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EAST CAROLINA RECORDS AND STREAKS

  • Has converted all eight 2021 redzone visits into points (and are 15 of 16 in the last 4 games) …
  • Has forced at least one turnover in 11-straight games (and in 22 of the last 23) …
  • Has netted at least one interception in the last five games (eight overall picks) …
  • Has tallied a total of 30.0 TLFs and 7.0 sacks in its last five games …
  • Has won 41 of the last 48 games when leading at the half (14-4 since 2015) …
  • Has averaged 43.9 yards per punt so far in 2021 (highest three-game average since 2017) …

THE SERIES
Saturday’s contest will mark the first meeting (0-0) between Charleston Southern and ECU in the sport of football.

HOUSTON AGAINST THE BUCCANEERS (0-3)
Mike Houston has faced Charleston Southern three times during his 11-year head coaching career, all while leading The Citadel’s program … The Buccaneers capped off an 0-3 start for the Bulldogs with a 20-18 win in 2014 before tacking on a 33-20 regular season and a 14-6 playoff victories a year later.

AGAINST THE FCS
The Pirates currently own an all-time 27-3 (.900) record against programs that currently compete or competed on the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-AA) level when the game was played.

COMPARING 10-YEAR, THREE-GAME RESULTS
East Carolina’s 42-38 win at Marshall improved the Pirates’ record to 1-2 for the fourth-straight year … A victory over Charleston Southern would give ECU a 2-2 ledger for the third time in the last four years (and for the fifth time in the last seven seasons), but a loss against the Bucs would mark the second consecutive campaign the Pirates will have opened a year at 1-3.

AT DOWDY-FICKLEN STADIUM
East Carolina’s all-time record at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is 192-110 (.636) … 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 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 Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium since 1963.

THE PIRATE NATION – NEARLY 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 8,946,282 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 2,674,996 fans.

SHUTOUT-FREE … 290 AND COUNTING
ECU will enter the Charleston Southern contest with an active streak of 290 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 290-game run currently ranks among the Top 10 nationally (Florida is first with 413).

CHARTING THE PIRATES MONTH-BY-MONTH
In all, East Carolina is 3-3-0 in August, 131-122-1 in September, 163-164-4 in October, 142-132-5 in November, 9-10-0 in December and 1-4-0 in January … The Pirates will host Charleston Southern on Sept. 25, a month in which East Carolina has won five of the nine contests since the 2018 campaign … At home, ECU has dropped two in a row (UCF/’20, South Carolina/’21) after running off four wins in a row – North Carolina and Old Dominion in ’18, Gardner-Webb and William & Mary in ’19 … Overall, the Pirates are 13-10 vs. in non-league affairs in Month 9 since the 2014 campaign (1-5 vs. the AAC).

A STARTERS’ LOG
WR Tyler Snead (18 games) and ILB Xavier Smith (16) own the program’s longest starting streaks on offense and defense entering the Charleston Southern contest.

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 1,564-yard rushing total in 2020 marked the program’s fourth-highest nine-game clip since 2000 … In addition, the Pirates posted five (5) 200-yard rushing contests a year ago as a team – most since 2007.

TRIPLE-DIGIT MAGIC … INDIVIDUALLY
Rahjai Harris (115/USF, 172/Navy, 118/TLS in 2020) and Keaton Mitchell (124/CIN, 103/TEM in 2020, 135/MAR in 2021) will each enter the Charleston Southern contest looking to become the first Pirates’ RB in eight years to post four career 100-yard rushing contests … Tay Cooper (8) last accomplished the feat by logging four each in 2012 and 2013 (after racking up 186 vs. North Carolina, 126 vs. UAB, 148 vs. NC State and 198 vs. Ohio in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl) … Dominique Lindsay posted five during ECU’s C-USA championship season in 2009 for the most recent single-season best.

LIVING A PIRATES’ LIFE
After having its 11-game streak with at least one takeaway (longest since ’09) 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 eight-straight contests last year … In all, the Pirates will enter the CSU clash having forced a TO in 11 consecutive games.

SWISS ARMY KNIFE & RECEPTION STREAKS
Slot receiver/return specialist Tyler Snead has averaged 118.6 all-purpose yards in his last eight games (244 vs. Temple alone in ’20) … On offense, Snead has caught at least one pass in 24 consecutive games (dating back to 2019) – tops on the unit … Outside receiver C.J. Johnson currently stands second with a reception in 14-straight outings.

AMONG TOP PASSING UNITS IN AMERICAN HISTORY
Since joining the AAC 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 (27,195), 2. East Carolina (25,827), 3. UCF (24,293), 4. SMU (23,113), 5. Cincinnati (22,845), 6. Houston (22,545), 7. Tulsa (21,663), 8. Temple (20,681), 9. South Florida (18,469), 10. Tulane (16,041) and 11. Navy (7,331) … In addition, the Pirates top the league in completions (2,185) and attempts (3,635) … ECU has also accounted for a conference-high 18 400-yard passing games and surpassed the 300-yard mark on 46 occasions during the 84-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.

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 Saturday 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.

TALES FROM THE TREASURE CHEST (vs. Marshall)
TEAM NOTES:
The Herd’s Andrew Sanders drilled a 29-yard fi eld goal on Marshall’s first possession, which marked the first time an opponent has scored first against the Pirates this year (Cincinnati was the last team to accomplish the feat on 11/13/20) … ECU’s 21 points in the first half are the most in this season and most since scoring 45 against SMU in the first half in 2020 … ECU’s 275 yards of total offense in the first half were 12 more than what it had in the entire games (263) against South Carolina … ECU threw three TD passes vs. the Herd and has thrown at least one TD pass in 38 of last 46 games (102 of last 116 games) – did not record passing scores vs. UNC/2012, MAR/2013, TEM/2014, TOW/2015, UCONN/2015, USF/2015, JMU/2016, USF/2018, TEM/2018, NCSU/2018, NCSU/2019, Navy/2019, GSU/2020, Navy/2020, CIN/2020 … ECU’s defense registered eight TFLs in the game for 35 yards, which included three sacks for 26 yards.

INDIVIDUAL NOTES: Keaton Mitchell had career long run (88 yards) in the second quarter for a TD – the longest rush by an ECU player since 2001 (92 by Leonard Henry vs. Tulane 9/8/01) and fourth longest rush in ECU history … It also marked his fifth career TD (third rushing) … Mitchell also authored his third career 100-yard rushing game with his 135 yards on 13 carries … In addition, he caught four passes for 35 yards – now has at least one reception in 11 of 12 career games (multiple six times) … Shane Calhoun caught career-long pass of 32 yards in the first quarter (previous was 25 vs. USF in 2020) … He also caught first career TD pass (five yards) in the second quarter … Calhoun established new career-highs in receptions (eight) and receiving yards (114) … He became the fourth TE in program history with 100-yards receiving in a game and was the first in a regular season game to accomplish it since Carlester Crumpler Jr. (104 yards vs. Bowling Green) in 1992 … Overall, Davon Drew was the last TE to surpass 100 receiving yards (5-120 vs. Kentucky in the Liberty Bowl to conclude the 2008 campaign) … Malik Fleming picked off his second career pass in the second quarter (other was vs. Navy in 2020) … Holton Ahlers completed 30 of 47 passes for 368 yards with two TDs … He has now thrown multiple TD passes in a game 16 times in his career (3/’18, 5/’19, 6/’20, 2/’21) with a career-best six at SMU in 2019 … Ahlers now owns 11 career 300-yard passing outings and has thrown at least one scoring pass in 23 of 33 career games … Of those 55 aerial scores, 47 have come in league play … He’s passed and ran for a score in the same game eight times (2/2018, 4/2019, 2/2020) and was the first starting QB to catch a TD pass in a game since Shane Carden in 2014 (Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl) … Lastly, he was also the first player since James Summers to run, pass and catch a TD in a game (span of 53 games, which was done against Connecticut in 2016) … PK Owen Daff er was 6-for-6 on PATs and he’s tallied 18 points on the season … He also kicked off six times for 383 yards (63.8 avg) with five touchbacks at Marshall … Jsi Hatfi eld hauled down a pair of passes for 27 yards and he’s now caught at least one pass in 14 of 21 career games played (multiple seven times) … Jireh Wilson led the team with 10 tackles (three solo), which marked the third time in his career with double-digit stops (others: 13/GSU ’20, 10/SMU ’20) … C.J. Johnson caught three passes for 21 yards and has now recorded at least one reception in 23 of 24 career games (multiple 18 times) … Ja’Quan McMillian booked six stops vs. the Herd (three solo) and picked off his second pass of the season with 12 seconds remaining to secure the win (ninth of his career) … He’s now registered at least one tackle in all 24 career games (multiple 21 times) and tallied at least four tackles in a game 13 times in his career … Tyler Snead caught five passes for 80 yards with a score – his 18th career TD (15th career receiving) … He’s also hauled in at least one reception in 26 of 28 contests (multiple 24 times) … Lastly, Snead was 1-of-2 passing for 27 yards with a score that went to Holton Ahlers (he’s completed 3-of-4 passes in his career with three scores) … Other career TD passes were against SMU in 2020 (35 yards) and South Carolina in 2021 (75 yards).

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