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Furlow set to fly

East Carolina Cincinnati Football-11

East Carolina wide receiver James Summers (11) is tackled by Cincinnati safety Zach Edwards (4) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Cincinnati. Cincinnati won 31-19. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Shawn Furlow is a man of few words, but it is likely that he quietly hopes for more chances like Tuesday, when he was the top man on his team’s post-practice interview request list.

That is because Furlow, a sophomore running back from nearby South Central High School, has been vaulted from obscurity to main cog in the East Carolina football team’s rush game.

With junior Anthony Scott demoted following his late-game fumble in the Pirates' loss to Cincinnati last week, Furlow will now join senior former quarterback and wide receiver James Summers and sophomore Devin Anderson in the team's motley crew of rushers.

“We're pumped up and we're going to get the victory,” Furlow said of his impending first action of the season outside of special teams this Saturday against Connecticut, a game in which the 2-5 Pirates will be in a desperate fight to snap a five-game losing streak and net their first win in the American Athletic Conference.

“There's no tough part,” said Furlow, who garnered 25 carries and gained 83 yards as a freshman last season. “You just go out there and play.”

But under first-year head coach Scottie Montgomery and coordinator Tony Petersen, it hasn't been quite so simple for Furlow or fellow sophomore Derrell Scott, neither of whom have played yet this season.

Montgomery said this week that Furlow's greatest challenge was learning a new playbook and a new offense, but said his promotion is proof of his steady growth.

“We saw it probably the most about two weeks ago,” Montgomery said Tuesday of Furlow's rise, referring to the team's break created by Hurricane Matthew and the postponement of ECU's game against Navy. “I thought the open date was really good for him. When you have so much school like these kids have and you really want to get into that playbook. ... We had a chance to have some study hall academically and study hall athletically as well.”

Petersen expects the same standard, and the same margin for error, for Furlow as he does any of his backs. He obviously hopes the sophomore can hang on to the ball.

“Shawn is a natural running back. He stays low. You can see that he's got great vision,” Petersen said of Furlow. “I'm excited to see what he can do out there. He struggled a little bit early as far as knowing what to do and that hindered him as far as being in there.”

Key play

Montgomery, as his been his way throughout a trying rookie season to date, stopped short of pointing a finger when talking about a pass interference call that nullified an otherwise big interception by ECU cornerback Corey Seargent against Cincinnati.

The call went against inside linebacker Jordan Williams, who was not involved in the play on which Bearcat quarterback Gunner Kiel threw toward receiver Kahlil Lewis and Seargent jumped the route to snare the ball.

“It was critical because there is a lot of momentum in the game, and the momentum switched,” Montgomery said of the call late in the third quarter with ECU trailing just four points, 17-13.

Had the interception stood, ECU would have taken over at the Cincinnati 31-yard line with a chance to take the lead.

Instead, the Bearcats resumed their drive and Kiel rifled consecutive big passes to Lewis, the second of which was a nine-yard touchdown connection for a 24-13 lead. Montgomery noted the Bearcats did their best to make sure their side of things got heard on such close calls during the game.

“Their sideline did a good job of yelling and screaming and everything, and putting a lot of pressure on the officiating,” the coach said. “In the end, it proved to be a good tactic.”

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 or follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.

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