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ECU brings regular season to Temple books

GREENVILLE, NC – East Carolina will be looking to secure a regular season record Saturday afternoon when they take aim at Temple at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the competition will be streamed on ESPN+, with Richard Cross (play-by-play) and Taylor McHargue (analyst) handling broadcast duties.

ECU is under the guidance of the head coach in its fourth year Mike Houston.

A win would give East Carolina its second straight seven-win season and third four-win season in the American Athletic Conference since joining the league.

The Pirates (6-5, 3-4 AAC) lost 42-3 to Houston in their final game of the season at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium last Saturday. Cougar quarterback Clayton Tune threw for 435 yards and four touchdowns during East Carolina’s Keaton Mitchell rushed for 128 yards to break the century mark for the fifth straight contest.

Temple (3-8, 1-6 AAC) fell 23-3 at home to Cincinnati last Saturday, hauling up just 202 total offense yards in the second quarter and using a 43-yard field goal from Camden Price to take the to avoid shutdown.

East Carolina Records, Streaks and Trends

  • Earned Bowl eligibility for the second year in a row Mike Houston (first consecutive bowl appearances since 2012-14)
  • Has won seven of their last 12 UK games (4 of 5/2021; 3 of 7/2022)
  • Allowed just 11 offensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter in the last 17 games
  • Has dropped just 13 points in the fourth quarter in the last four competitions
  • Beat his opponents 165-134 in second half and extra time this year (+31)
  • Has forced at least one turnover in 27 of the last 31 games (and 38 of the last 43).
  • Made more offensive plays than his opponents (766-720/+46)

The series

ECU officially leads the eternal series 10-9. On the field, however, the Owls have won in 10 of their 19 encounters, but their 45–28 win in 1986 was later forfeited to the Pirates for the use of an ineligible player. East Carolina is 6-4 against Temple in Philadelphia but has only triumphed in four of nine meetings in Greenville. At the American Athletic Conference, the Owls have played 6-2 against the Pirates (3-1 in Philly) since 2014.

Mike Houston Against the owls

Since taking over as East Carolina’s head coach, Mike Houston owns a 2-1 record against Temple.

Stan Drayton vs. the Pirates

Saturday’s tilt will mark the first time Stan Drayton faces the Pirates.

Last session (6 Nov 2021)

A teeming East Carolina defense limited Temple to 168 total yards and kept the Owls out of the end zone en route to a convincing 45-3 American Athletic Conference win on a cool and blustery afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The home triumph was the Pirates’ first against Temple as AAC members and their first overall since 1995. ECU’s bid for a shutout fell 6:55 into the game when Rory Bell hit a 46-yard field goal that followed a dash Temple’s interception returns to the Pirates 29 yard line. Attacking quarterback Holton Ahlers (four) and runs back Keaton Mitchell (two) combined for all six East Carolina touchdowns and 370 of the Pirates’ 444 total yards. Ahlers completed 16 of 24 passes for 191 yards and three points, connecting with tight ends Ryan Jones (two) and Shane Calhoun on trio touchdown throws while reaching the end zone on a one-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Mitchell turned his fourth three-digit outing of the campaign with 146 yards on 18 carries and hit paydirt from 57 and four yards. After faltering on their first two drives of the contest, the Pirates conceded six of their next eight possessions on touchdowns to enjoy a comfortable 42-0 lead by 12:27. Of the Owls’ 13 possessions, ECU forced five “three-and-outs” and limited Temple to 20 yards or less ten times. The Owls crossed midfield just five times, but missed two field goal attempts, were stopped on fourth down and punched before finally getting onto the board via Bell’s three-pointer. In terms of margin, East Carolina’s 42-point win was its biggest as an AAC member — with a 41-3 win over former league opponents UConn in 2016.

Houston Leftovers (Team)

East Carolina fell 7-9 against Houston and 3-5 against the Cougars in Greenville… Ended a four-game streak against teams going to the Big 12 Conference in 2023 and picked up wins over BYU and UCF. … have forced at least one turnover in 27 of their last 31 games (and 38 of their last 43) … have produced their fifth consecutive game without a turnover … have not committed a penalty in a game for the first time since December 22 2012 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – a span of 117 games… East Carolina recorded a first-half no result for the first time this season and the first time since a 59-3 road loss at NC State on December 1, 2018 …Has only 26 second-half points and just three in the fourth quarter in the last three competitions.

Houston Leftovers (Individual)
QB Holton Ahlers completed 15 of 30 attempts for 182 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions… Increased his total season passing yards to 3,094 – the eighth-highest in a single season in program history… He currently owns three of the top 10 ECU single-season passing yards Yard’s achievements… RB Keaton Mitchell 128-yard rush with 14 carries and a long streak of 37 yards…He has five consecutive 100-yard carries, seven this season and 13 in his career…Exceeded 1,000 yards for the season , he becomes the first Pirate since Tay Cooper (2012-13) to record consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns… Currently seventh on the program’s career rushing yards list and finishing the afternoon 2,678-52 behind Theodore Sutton sixth… PC Laith Marjan made his season and career debut, scoring two kickoffs for 129 yards (64.5 average) and one touchback… SAF Gerhard Stringer amassed a team-high nine tackles (four solo), including a half TFL (-1 yard) and a quarterback rush… DL Immanuel Hickman and DL Chad Stephens a pair of TFLs each notched… cb Juan Powell scored his first interception of the season and second of his career in the first quarter.

band on the run

East Carolina is averaging 166.0 rushing yards per game en route to Temple competition… Spreading that out over a 12-game regular season (1,992), this year’s Pirates would have the third most rushing yards in program history since 2001. Before a year, ECU reached 1,949 yards on the ground, marking the program’s fourth-highest regular-season clip since 2000… In addition, the Pirates have posted 11 200-yard rushing contests in the Mike Houston Era (2/2019, 5/2020, 3/2021, 1/2022).

Under Regular Season Select Company

With one game left in the 2022 regular season, Keaton Mitchells 1,103 rushing yards is considered the fifth-highest ground total by an East Carolina running back during the regular season. Last year he rushed for 1,132 yards, which was the third-best total yardage during the regular season… He’s the only Pirate to run back with consecutive 1K campaigns before the postseason game.

13K-1K club membership

Ahlers is the only active FBS quarterback to have rushed for 13,000 yards and 1,000+ yards for his (overall career) and one of six active 10K/1K QBs. He is also the only active FBS QB with over 14,500 total yards.

In search of more loot

Heading to the Temple game, East Carolina currently sits at +8 on the season in the takeaway. The Pirates have forced nine fumbles, recovered five and thrown 10 passes for 139 return yards. In their last home game (against UCF), the ECU forced a season-high with four turnovers (3 interceptions, 1 fumble) and recorded their fourth multi-turnover game of the season.

Among the top passing units in American history

Since joining the AAC in 2014, the Pirates have ranked second in passing yards over a combined span of more than eight years, despite using nine starting quarterbacks, four offensive coordinators and three head coaches: 1st Memphis (36,009), 2nd East Carolina (31,382), 3rd SMU (29,330), 4th Houston (29,133), 5th UCF (28,778), 6th Cincinnati (28,415), 7th Tulsa (27,014), 8th Temple (24,921), 9th South Florida (22,435), 10th Tulane (20,449) and 11th Navy (8,896). However, the Pirates lead the league in completions (2,652) and attempts (4,348). ECU also posted a conference high of 20,400-yard passing games and surpassed the 300-yard mark 53 times during the 101-game span. Top two receivers in NCAA FBS history by career receptions – Zay Jones (399 from 2013-16) and Justin Hardy (387 from 2011-2014) – are former ECU players.

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