Houston vs. ECU

East Carolina University football players chasing player from University of Houston during previous game.

After suffering its worst defeat of the season against American Athletic Conference opponent Temple University, the East Carolina University football team struggled to put the ball in the endzone during the 42-20 loss against the University of Houston.

ECU (2-4, 0-3 AAC) struggled to get any type of rhythm going in the first half against Houston (5-1, 2-0 AAC). Within the first 6:54 of the game, the Pirates fell behind 14-0. Sophomore quarterback Reid Herring threw one of his two interceptions on the night in the first quarter. ECU was outgained in total yards that first period 142-60.

“We didn’t make enough plays, we didn’t execute well enough early,” sophomore quarterback Reid Herring said. “Two or three plays could of kept us in the game early and that would of really helped but we didn’t make those plays. It definitely gives you momentum when you can score early, and we failed to do that. We have to stay up and find a different way to score.”

The Pirates did not get anything going scoring wise until the eight-minute mark of the second quarter when junior kicker Jack Verity nailed a 32-yard field goal to put up the first points for ECU to bring the score to 14-3. Besides getting another field goal, the Cougar offense and defense proved too much for the Pirates to the point where they went up 42-6 in the fourth quarter.

Freshman quarterback Holton Ahlers gave the Pirates a major boost, trying to bring them back into the game. Ahlers, who had completed just two of 10 passes entering Saturday, managed to connect on 11 of 18 passes for 137 yards including his first career touchdown pass which was a 13-yarder to senior wide receiver Trevon Brown. Ahlers went on to lead the Pirates in rushing yards as well by racking up 45 yards on five carries, including a 1-yard touchdown run to make the final score 42-20.

“As a receiver, it doesn’t matter who’s at quarterback,” Brown said. “We are taught to get open for whoever is throwing the ball. Holton does run the ball a lot so it gives us a different feel to the game when defenses know he is going to run the ball so we let him throw the ball and it gave us some boosts in the end.”

Herring finished the day by completing 26-of-42 passes for 229 yards, but threw two interceptions during the game. Redshirt freshman Kingsley Ifedi saw action on Saturday, but went 1-for-3 in passes and threw another interception for ECU which added to the blowout at the end of the night.

The Pirates had more plays than Houston (94-71) and more passing yards (374-249). ECU in the running game was outran 157-41 through all 60 minutes. Defensively, the Pirates gave the offense a chance to stay in the game by forcing the Cougars to punt the ball 10 times. Houston started the game 3-for-3 on third downs and finished going 1-for-11 after that. The offense had many opportunities to score, but failed to convert when needed and as a result of that for the second straight week, they lost by at least 20 points.

“I think we got some major challenges offensively that we need to address,” head coach Scottie Montgomery said. “Some of them were addressed in the latter part of the game. We have to have some guys make plays. I thought that throughout the game offensively when we had a chance to make plays early in the game we dropped balls. The second portion we had guys open and our protection broke down and the latter part of the game when we had guys open we missed throws. The only time we did not miss throws was the last two to three drives of the game which is the only positive offensively I think we had throughout the night.”

Montgomery announced Monday that Ahlers will be the starting quarterback this upcoming weekend.

ECU will look to bounce back and snap its two game losing streak against No. 10 ranked University of Central Florida on Saturday in Dowdy Ficklen Stadium at 7 p.m. during homecoming weekend.

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