East Carolina Pirates visits BYU Friday Night For Non-Conference Clash on ESPN2, 8:00

GREENVILLE, N.C. – After playing six of its first eight games inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, ECU will hit the road Friday night for a non-conference battle with BYU inside LaVell Edwards Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. and the contest will air on ESPN2 with Roy Philpott (play-by-play), Rene Ingoglia (analyst) and Paul Carcaterra (sideline) handling the broadcast duties.

ECU is under the direction of fourth-year head coach Mike Houston.

The Pirates (5-3) played perhaps their most complete game of the campaign last Saturday, never trailing in a comprehensive 34-13 league victory over UCF at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. East Carolina raced out to a 17-0 advantage in the first half and never trailed the rest of the way. The affair was the first of four straight versus programs slated to join the Big 12 Conference next season (UCF, BYU, Cincinnati and Houston).

Holton Ahlers became the program’s career leader in passing touchdowns, tossing his 87th via a 39-yard strike to C.J. Johnson in the second quarter. Ahlers would finish the night completing 30 of 36 attempts for 311 yards and an additional rushing touchdown. Johnson racked up a team-high 140 yards on a season-high 11 receptions, turning in the sixth 100-yard effort of his career and second of the season, while Keaton Mitchell registered 105 yards on 16 carries and a pair of touchdowns. It was his fourth 100-yard performance of the year and 10th of his career. Mitchell has scored five rushing touchdowns in the last two games.

Jireh Wilson was tabbed the AAC Defensive Player of the Week after registering an interception and recovering a fumble while Ahlers was selected to the league’s weekly honor roll.

BYU (4-4) traveled to Liberty Saturday, falling to the Flames 41-14. Liberty out-gained the Cougars 547-258 and posted 28 first downs to BYU’s 12.

East Carolina Records, Streaks and Trends

  • Has won seven of its last 10 AAC games (4 of 5/2021; 3 of 5/2022)
  • Has allowed only 10 fourth-quarter offensive touchdowns in the last 14 games
  • Has outscored its opponents 139-103 in the second half and overtime this year (+36)
  • Has forced at least one turnover in 25 of the last 28 games (and in 36 of the last 40)
  • Has snapped more offensive plays than its eight opponents (574-529/+45)

The Series
Friday’s matchup against the Courgars marks just the third game in the all-time series with each team holding serve at home. The Cougars used running back Algernon Brown’s fourth touchdown of the contest, a nine-yard run with 19 seconds remaining, to break a 38-38 tie and open the series with a win in Provo (2015). Two years later, Jake Verity matched a school single-game record by drilling four field goals and Gardner Minshew tossed a pair of second-half touchdown passes to lift ECU to a 33-17 non-conference triumph at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Mike Houston Against The Cougars
Including Mike Houston‘s prior nine-year tenure as a head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne, The Citadel and James Madison, Friday’s game will mark his first against BYU.

Kalani Sitake Against The Pirates
Friday marks the second time that Sitake will square off against the Pirates following a 33-17 loss in Greenville during the 2017 campaign.

East Carolina Against The Independents
ECU has compiled an all-time record of 15-2 against FBS programs which currently compete as an independent. The Pirates’ lone setbacks both came during the 2015 season against BYU and Connecticut. In all, ECU has squared off against four of the seven current FBS independents: Army (8-0), BYU (1-1), Connecticut (5-1), Liberty (0-0), New Mexico State (0-0), Notre Dame (0-0) and UMass (1-0).

Last Meeting (Oct. 21, 2017)
Jake Verity matched a school single-game record by drilling four field goals and Gardner Minshew tossed a pair of second-half touchdown passes to lift ECU to a 33-17 non-conference triumph over BYU at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The Pirates scored on their first four possessions after halftime to break open a 10-10 deadlock, while the ECU defense forced two punts, made a fourth down stop and picked off a pass to keep BYU out of the endzone until late in the fourth period. The Cougars used a short field following a fumble recovery to open an early 7-0 lead, but ECU outscored BYU 33-3 on the strength of Verity’s leg and Minshew’s arm. After Thomas Sirk’s one-yard scoring plunge with 3:09 left in the opening stanza evened the contest, Verity connected on a pair of 42-yarders and added 32 and 33-yard three-pointers to give the Pirates a 19-10 cushion after three quarters. Minshew, who replaced an injured Sirk with 3:05 remaining in the third period, capped a quick three-play drive with a 26-yard TD toss to Trevon Brown to open the fourth quarter. ECU’s defense followed with a fourth-down stop at the Pirate four-yard line on BYU’s next possession before linebacker Cannon Gibbs’ interception set up Minshew’s second scoring pass – a nine-yard screen to Quay Johnson – and provide a comfortable 33-10 cushion with 6:25 remaining. Davon Grayson turned in his third triple-digit outing of the year with 10 receptions for 164 yards to lead all receivers.

Non-Saturday Mayhem
East Carolina is 21-29 in non-Saturday games since 2000. Oddly, the Pirates have fared better on the road (14-14; 7-15 at home). In terms of days (including bowls), ECU is 5-1 on Sundays, 1-1 on Mondays, 2-1 on Tuesdays, 0-3 on Wednesdays, 8-12 on Thursdays and 5-11 on Fridays. Most recently, ECU is 10-14 when deviating from the normal Saturday routine since 2010.

Looking For More Loot
Heading into the BYU game, East Carolina is currently currently +6 on the season in take aways. The Pirates have forced nine fumbles, recovering five and picked off eight passes for 137 return yards. In its last outing, ECU forced a season-high four turnovers (3 INTs, 1 fumble) and registering its fourth multi-turnover game of the season.

Offensive Triple Threat (300-100-100)
For the second time this season and in consecutive games, ECU had a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in the same game (Memphis, UCF).

Comparing 10-Year, Eight-Game Results
East Carolina’s dominating 34-13 win over UCF gave the Pirates a .625 or better record for the third time in the last 10 years and a 5-3 ledger for the first time in Mike Houston‘s four-year tenure. A victory over BYU would push ECU to 6-3 or better for the first time since 2014, but a loss would be the second consecutive year the Pirates would sport a 5-4 record through nine contests.

COURTESY EAST CAROLINA ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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