For only the second time this season, the East Carolina University (2-6, 2-5 AAC) football team recorded a win, defeating Temple University (1-6, 1-6 AAC) 28-3 on Nov. 21.
The game was set to kick off at noon, but there was a player among the Temple roster who showed signs of COVID-19 which caused a delay. According to 247sports.com, the player was taken to a nearby hospital, and the game continued shortly before 1 p.m.
Out of the 11 teams in the AAC, the matchup featured the two of three teams with only a single win on the season, along with the University of South Florida (1-7, 0-6 AAC). The Pirates now leave Temple and South Florida behind after getting their second win of the season.
“2020 keeps on sending us plenty of curveballs, so what a good job today to get a win on the road, against a team that we have not beaten in conference play in the past,” head coach Mike Houston said. “We were not perfect today, but the kids fought.”
While this game featured two of the bottom-ranked teams in the AAC, according to the NCAA, ECU made fewer errors than Temple, represented by turnover totals. Each team lost a fumble, but the Owls threw two interceptions in comparison to one by ECU.
Junior quarterback Holton Ahlers threw an interception, but countered it with a rushing touchdown and two passing touchdowns. He threw for 182 yards with 11 completions on 22 attempts.
Sophomore receiver C.J. Johnson led the Pirates with three catches for 86 receiving yards. He added a touchdown to his statline for his fourth of the year. Sophomore Tyler Snead had three catches for 75 yards and a touchdown to go with a 95-yard kick return for a score.
“It was a good team win,” Ahlers said. “Snead did a real good job on the return game. Any time you get good field position like that, it’s going to be really easy (on offense).”
The run game was led by freshman Keaton Mitchell who had 13 carries for 103 yards. Freshman Rahjai Harris added 14 carries for 65 yards. Alhers had a significant amount of rushing yards due to a 75-yard run in the first quarter. He finished with 70 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.
Mitchell had a key block which allowed Snead to score on the 95-yard kick return early in the second quarter of the game.
“When I saw Keaton (Mitchell) running and doing the drive-by blocks, that’s when I really knew we were going all the way,” Snead said.
The Pirates’ defense forced three turnovers on the Owls with one fumble and two interceptions. Senior linebacker Bruce Bivens and sophomore defensive back Shawn Dourseau each snagged an interception thrown by Temple’s freshman quarterback Kamal Gray, with Dourseau making his with about a minute left in the second quarter and Bivens with 5:27 to go in the fourth.
The Owls were held to just 95 passing yards by the ECU defense which forced Gray to throw just 10 completions on 21 attempts. For the running game, Temple rotated among six different running backs, but none of them ran over 50 yards.
Coming off the Pirates’ second win of the season, ECU will host Southern Methodist University (7-2, 4-2 AAC) on Nov. 28 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for the regular season finale. Kick-off is scheduled for noon.