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ECU-Navy game postponed

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ECU's coach Scottie Montgomery during East Carolina vs Central Florida football game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, October 1


By Ronnie Woodward
The Daily Reflector

Monday, October 10, 2016

Uncertainty Monday morning about East Carolina’s home football game against Navy scheduled for Thursday night turned into certainty just before 2 p.m. when ECU athletic director Jeff Compher announced the game was rescheduled for Nov. 19 because of flooding from Hurricane Matthew.

During his scheduled noon news conference Monday, ECU coach Scottie Montgomery talked about how player safety was a top priority, but also that coaches needed to get a game plan together to face the Midshipmen. Less than two hours later, Compher made the postponement official.

Both teams were scheduled for byes on Nov. 19. 

"Based on the latest information and projections we have received regarding the rising water level and subsequent adverse travel conditions in eastern North Carolina the remainder of the week, we feel it is necessary to ensure the safety of everyone involved," Compher said in the statement. “We are thankful for our colleagues at the U.S. Naval Academy for their compassion and understanding to assist us with this situation. Additionally, we are appreciative of American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco and his staff for their support throughout this process."

Earlier, Montgomery hinted at the balance of safety and football for the Pirate coaches and players. He said some players were forced to evacuate their Greenville homes on Sunday and Monday, and that some who didn’t travel with the team to play at South Florida on Saturday left Greenville and have had trouble returning to campus.

The coach said a big part of some ECU athletics administrators’ focus Sunday and early Monday was getting players who were at risk to safety.

“Everybody at this university is concerned with the safety of our kids, but right now we are pushing along like we are playing,” Montgomery said shortly after noon. “Our coaches are upstairs right now concentrating on Navy. We had to get out (Sunday) night because of the curfew, but we were back as early as we could be working on Navy. If it’s about safety or anything connected to safety, I’m sure the university will make the correct decision when it comes to our kids’ safety.”

The game was scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff and a national broadcast by ESPN.

Tickets for the originally scheduled Navy game will be honored on Nov. 19.

East Carolina’s next game is Oct. 22 at Cincinnati. The Pirates (2-4, 0-2 American) lost their fourth straight game, 38-22, at South Florida on Saturday night, but they were in striking distance for nearly the entire game and Montgomery voiced optimism with the performance compared to earlier losses.

Navy (4-1) pulled an upset Saturday night with a 46-40 win over then-No. 6 Houston to improve to 3-0 in the AAC.

After losing to USF, ECU ran into problems trying to return to Greenville from Tampa, not making it back until early Sunday afternoon. 

“We can fix some of the issues we have, but the thing I’m really happy about with our team right now is we are playing really disciplined football from a penalty standpoint,” Montgomery said. “We have to get more points. There’s no question about that. … We also have to get a little healthier all the way around.”

The ECU players who were listed as out on the injury report were offensive linemen Justin Sandifer, Jared Huneycutt and D’Ante Smith, receiver Davon Grayson and linebacker Joe Allely. Starting quarterback Philip Nelson did not make it through the entire game for the second straight week because of injury and backup Gardner Minshew finished the USF contest.

This week’s depth chart did have Nelson or Minshew to start against Navy, and there was injury concern in the defensive secondary with lead cornerbacks Colby Gore and Corey Seargent being limited.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.