Football vs. Navy

Junior quarterback Holton Ahlers looks to handoff the ball to freshman running back Keaton Mitchell against Memphis.

East Carolina University football (6-4-0, 4-2-0 American Athletic Conference) is set to face the United States Naval Academy (2-7-0, 2-4-0 AAC) to wrap up their end of season road trip. 

The game is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. The game will be available to view on CBSSN and will be available to listen to on 107.9 WNCT-FM. 

Navy comes into the matchup following a loss to the No. 6 ranked Notre Dame (8-1-0, 0-0-0 Independent). In the 34-6 loss, the Midshipmen were unable to convert a touchdown and settled for two field goals in the game.

For the Pirates, this game follows the season goal of six wins after securing win against Memphis (5-5-0, 2-4-0 AAC) which enabled the Pirates to be bowl game eligible. The battle between the two teams went into overtime, where a failed two-point conversion for the Tigers sealed the win for the Pirates.

“It’s euphoric,” ECU head coach Mike Houston said, according to Hoist The Colours. “That locker room was as good as there’s ever been. This is a big next step in the program and big picture wise and this was one of the long-term goals I made when I took the job, and I kind of put a time and date on it, and this was the season. I’m kinda glad the kids helped me make sure I didn’t miss on that one. It’s just the work they’ve put in, the way they played today.”

ECU and Navy sit on opposite ends of the conference rankings for the AAC. The Pirates are firmly in fourth place with four conference wins, whereas the Midshipmen are eighth in the conference with two conference wins.

“Just so many close calls all year,” Houston said. “When we lost the South Carolina game, I said, ‘I pray that doesn’t cost us a bowl game.’ It didn’t. It probably helped us. Those close losses, they galvanize you and give you the experience not to panic in these situations. But what a great win by our kids. Incredible performance.”

The two teams have met one another eight times in their programs’ histories. In that time, ECU has only taken one of their matchups. The only time that the Pirates have defeated the Midshipmen came on Oct. 22, 2011, when ECU took a 38-35 victory against Navy. The two teams have met five times since that game. The Pirates have never beaten the Midshipmen at home and haven’t beaten them away in a decade.

In the win against Memphis, junior quarterback Holton Ahlers threw for 313 yards and two interceptions on 63% completion. Sophomore wide receiver Tyler Snead caught 13 passes for 113 yards for an average of 8.7 yards per reception.

The game was not won with passing, however, the game was won on the ground. Three Pirates had rushing touchdowns on the win with Ahlers, freshman running back Keaton Mitchell and freshman running back Rahjai Harris. 

ECU also received consistent production from redshirt freshman placekicker Owen Daffer. Daffer was 100% on kicks in the game, converting all three field goal attempts and three extra-point attempts. The kicking consistency was enough to earn Daffer the AAC’s Special Teams Player of the Week award.

The Pirates will fight to snap a decade long losing streak against Navy and improve their record to put them into better bowl standings. For Navy, this matchup will serve to improve the team’s conference record.

After facing Navy, the Pirates will wrap up their season at home to face the No. 3 ranked school nationally in Cincinnati University (10-0-0, 6-0-0 AAC) at home. The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. in Greenville, North Carolina. The final game of the season will be televised on ABC and will be available to listen to at 107.9 WNCT-FM.

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