Following the Pirates' first win of the season on Oct. 10 against the University of South Florida (1-3, 0-2 AAC), East Carolina University’s (1-2, 1-1 AAC) football team will look to build upon the momentum as they return home to play the United States Naval Academy (2-2, 2-0 AAC) on Oct. 17.
Head coach Mike Houston said the team can’t do anything about any past game, but they can focus on this week’s contest.
“This is a huge game for us,” Houston said. “It’s the one we can control this week and it’s the one we’ve got to prepare for. As we build this program, we’ve got to keep that mindset week-to-week and then we’ll reflect, postseason, on where these wins and losses fall.”
The Pirates won their previous game against the USF with a final score of 44-24. After starting out the season with back-to-back losses, ECU responded with a strong game against the Mustangs. Navy will be the fourth opponent the Pirates play this season.
Navy found victory in its previous game as well against Temple University (0-1, 0-1 AAC) and finished with a final score of 31-29. Navy currently leads the American Athletic Conference (AAC) with its 2-0 record against conference opponents.
With their first conference victory of the season on Saturday, the Pirates jumped up to the middle of the standings, currently 7th overall. Previously, the Pirates sat among the bottom in the AAC.
Against Temple, the team rushed for 251 yards in total with a triple-option as the base of the offense. The leading rusher was senior fullback Nelson Smith with 120 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Dalen Morris only attempted two passes for the entirety of the game. Both passes were completed for positive yards. One was thrown to senior slot back CJ Williams for 36 yards, the other was thrown to junior receiver Mychal Cooper for 12 yards.
“Offensively, we’ve got to maximize possessions. You’re going to have limited possessions playing a triple option football team. We’ve got to make the most of each one,” Houston said. “Defensively, you hear coaches say stop the run, that’s not realistic with a triple option football team...I think we have to be extremely aggressive in how we attack their (Navy) offense because they’re going to be extremely aggressive.”
As for ECU, the previous game displayed balance with 222 passing yards from junior quarterback Holton Alhers and 210 rushing yards from several running backs. The leading rusher for the Pirates was freshman running back Rahjai Harris who ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
The leading receiver against USF was sophomore receiver C.J. Johnson. He ended with a total of 99 receiving yards and two touchdowns, one coming from a 75 yard bomb from Alhers.
The Pirates will look to capture their second win of the season against Navy. Kick-off is scheduled for Noon. at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Oct. 17. The game will be available to watch on ESPN+.