GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina travels to Boone for the first time since 1979 Saturday, facing off with Appalachian State in a sold-out non-conference contest at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and the game will stream live via ESPN+ with David Jackson (play-by-play) and Avery Hall (color analyst) on the call.
The Pirates are under the direction of fifth-year head coach Mike Houston.
ECU (0-2) seeks its first victory of the campaign after dropping a 31-13 decision to Marshall last Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The Pirates led 13-10 in the fourth quarter before the Thundering Herd scored 21 unanswered points to pull away for the win. Mason Garcia finished the game with a career-high 118 yards rushing on 16 carries and completed 10 of 23 pass attempts for 62 yards with one touchdown and one interception while Alex Flinn entered in the fourth quarter and connected on three of eight throws for 61 yards and an interception.
The Mountaineers (1-1) played a two-overtime thriller last Saturday in Chapel Hill, falling 40-34 at a rain-soaked Kenan Stadium. Joey Aguilar completed 22 of 43 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns in his first start for App State while Nate Noel rushed a career-high 26 times for 127 yards with two touchdowns.
East Carolina Records, Streaks and Trends
- Has won 9 of last 16 non-conference games dating back to 2019.
- Forced at least one turnover in 30 of the last 33 games (and in 41 of the last 47).
- Owns a 51-63 (.447) record against the Sun Belt Conference.
- Led the NCAA in fewest fumbles lost (2) and turnovers lost (7) in 2022.
- Has allowed only 16 4th-quarter offensive touchdowns in the last 21 games dating back to 2021.
East Carolina holds a 12-20 record all time against Appalachian State. While the Mountaineers have won 20 of 32 games in a near-90-year series that dates to 1932, the two programs have met only three times since the Pirates posted a 38-21 victory over App State in Boone on Nov. 3, 1979. The Mountaineers opened the series with 10 consecutive victories while ECU has won nine of the last 12, including six of the last seven. The Pirates are 9-8 against ASU in Greenville but are just 3-11 in 14 meetings in Boone and 0-1 in neutral site contests.
Mike Houston Against The Mountaineers
Saturday’s matchup will mark the second time Mike Houston has faced off against Appalachian State on the field. In 2021, the Mountaineers defeated the Pirates 33-19 in the Dukes Mayo Bowl, which was played in Bank of America Stadium – home of the Carolina Panthers.
Shawn Clark Against The Pirates
Shawn Clark has faced East Carolina once as a head coach, posting a 1-0 mark. He is also 3-0 against the Pirates as a staff assistant (Louisville/2001-02 and App State/2021).
Appalachian State 33, East Carolina 19
(Sept. 2, 2021 @ Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, N.C.)
Appalachian State erased an early 6-0 deficit with a run of 20-straight points on the way to a 33-19 non-conference victory over East Carolina in the season opener for both teams at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. The Mountaineers racked up 226 ground yards while limiting the Pirates to just 86 yards on 24 carries – an average of just 3.6 yard per attempt. ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers, despite throwing for a game-high 295 yards and a pair of touchdowns, was sacked four times. On the flipside, App State turned in a pair of 100-yard rushing performances as Nate Noel (15-126) and Camerun Peoples (14-100) each eclipsed the century mark, while quarterback Chase Brice added 259 more through the air with a pair of scoring tosses. After Keaton Mitchell and Ahlers connected on a 63-yard touchdown pass, the Mountaineers used a Thomas Hennigan 34-yard touchdown reception, a Peoples 21-yard ground score and a pair of Chandler Staton field goals to jump out to a 20-6 halftime edge. Trailing 33-9 with 12:19 remaining, ECU tallied the game’s final 10 points on an Owen Daffer 39-yard field goal and Ryan Jones’ 38-yard scoring catch but couldn’t get any closer. While the Mountaineers’ run game was in high gear, Brice also used 10 receivers to keep the Pirates off balance. Cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian led East Carolina defensively with a career-best 10 tackles while also adding his eighth career interception.
East Carolina Against The Sun Belt Conference
Following last week’s setback to Marshall, East Carolina has compiled a record of 51-63 (.447) against current members of the Sun Belt Conference. The Pirates are 12-20 vs. Appalachian State, 11-6 against Marshall, 3-0 vs. Arkansas State, 1-0 vs. Coastal Carolina, 3-0 vs. Georgia Southern, 0-1 vs. Georgia State, 0-1 vs. James Madison, 4-7 vs. Louisiana, 1-1 vs. Louisiana-Monroe, 4-0 vs. Old Dominion, 12-27 vs. Southern Miss and 1-0 vs. Texas State. ECU has never played South Alabama or Troy on the gridiron. Since 2010, the Pirates own a 10-7 record against current members of the Sun Belt and have won five of the last seven which included a 53-29 win over Coastal Carolina in the 2022 TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl.
Against Non-Conference Opponents
The Pirates have produced a 43-61 (.414) regular season non-league record since 1997, which includes an 0-2 clip in 2023. Last year the Pirates posted a 3-1 mark, picking up wins against Old Dominion, Campbell and BYU while dropping the home opener to NC State. In 2021, they split their four non-conference games by falling to Appalachian State and South Carolina to open the season before rallying back to post victories against Marshall and Charleston Southern. During his first season as head coach at ECU in 2019, Houston led the Pirates to a 3-1 record – the program’s first winning non-conference showing since 2014.
Shutout Free … 314 And Counting
East Carolina will enter the Appalachian State game with an active streak of 314 games of not suffering a shutout – a school record (previous mark was 110 set from ’71-’81). The last time the Pirates were blanked was on Oct. 4, 1997 (56-0 at Syracuse). ECU’s 313-game run currently ranks among the top 10 nationally (Florida is first with 437).
Comparing 10-Year, Three-Game Results
East Carolina’s loss against Marshall pushed its record to 0-2 on the season for the fourth time in the last 10 years and the third in Mike Houston‘s five-year tenure. A victory at Appalachian State would give ECU a 1-2 mark for the sixth time since 2014, but a loss would represent the second time it has gone winless in its first three contests.
Band On The Run
East Carolina’s 2,218-yard rushing total in 2022 marked the program’s third-highest overall seasonal clip since 2000. During regular season action, the Pirates tallied 2,046 yards which are the third most before postseason play. A year ago, ECU totaled 1,949 yards on the ground marking (regular season) then the program’s fourth-highest regular season total during that time span. In addition, the Pirates have posted 14 200-yard rushing contests in the Mike Houston era (2/2019, 5/2020, 3/2021, 4/2022).
Looking For More Loot
Through two games this season, East Carolina is -2 in turnover margin. A year ago, the Pirates finished with a +13 turnover margin forcing 10 fumbles, recovering nine and picked off 11 passes for 154 return yards. Against UCF, ECU forced a season-high four turnovers (3 INTs, 1 fumble) and had five multi-turnover games on the year. Despite its impressive 45-3 win, East Carolina’s 16-game streak of forcing at least one turnover came to a halt against Temple on Nov. 6 (2021). The run, which began on Oct. 3, 2020, at Georgia State and produced 36 takeaways (22 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries), was the program’s longest since a 33-game streak (from 2007 to 2010). In all, ECU still has at least one takeaway in 30 of the last 33 (and 41 of 47) contests, as well as 12 of 15 games dating back to the start of the 2022 campaign.
Analyzing The 2023 Overall Schedule
ECU’s 2023 opponents compiled an overall record of 87-67 (.565) in 2022. The Pirates’ four non-conference opponents were a combined 35-17 (.673) last season while the eight AAC teams on the state tallied a 52-50 (.510) mark. Seven programs had at least six or more wins including three teams that had 10-plus victories – Michigan (13-1), Tulane (12-2) and UTSA (11-3). Five of East Carolina’s first six opponents finished last year at or above .500.
Who went Bowling? … The Pirates’ 2023 schedule features contests against five teams who competed in bowl games last season, highlighted by Michigan’s second-straight appearance in the College Football Playoff Semifinals and Tulane’s comeback victory over USC in the Cotton Bowl … Michigan (Fiesta), Tulane (Cotton), Marshall (Myrtle Beach), UTSA (Duluth Trading Cure), and SMU (New Mexico) … Three of the Pirates’ six home games are against 2022 bowl qualifiers.
In the Final Polls… Two of ECU’s 2023 opponents finished the 2022 season in college football’s two major polls (Associated Press and USA Today/AFCA Coaches) – AAC champion Tulane (9/9) and Michigan (3/3).
East Carolina returns to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium’s friendly confines Saturday, Sept. 23, for a non-conference matchup with FCS foe and in-state opponent Gardner-Webb. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. and the game will stream live through ESPN+.