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Herring, Gore expected to play vs. ODU

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East Carolina's Reid Herring, left, enters the game for Holton Ahlers against North Carolina on Sept. 8, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, September 24, 2018

East Carolina cornerback Colby Gore is probable to return to action this weekend against Old Dominion, and starting quarterback Reid Herring also is expected to play despite nursing a sore ankle from Saturday’s 20-13 loss at South Florida.

Pirate coach Scottie Montgomery confirmed those details Monday during his weekly news conference, saying that Herring should be ready to face the Monarchs but backups Kingsley Ifedi and Holton Ahlers also could remain in the mix as the team monitors its quarterbacks this week during practice. Ahlers has been used as a short-yardage specialist and complement to Herring for the Pirates (1-2), who will host ODU (1-3) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. after the Monarchs just pulled a major upset by knocking off Virginia Tech, 49-35.

“We’ll find out, but I think Reid is going to be fine,” Montgomery said. “I think we are talented enough at receiver, whether it’s Kingsley or Holton. For Holton, every week that he can practice he gets a little better and the hardest part for quarterbacks, especially young quarterbacks, is managing game-type situations.”

ECU’s third-year coach then noted that Ahlers was in for Herring near the end of the first half against USF, and he was sacked but should have been looking for a quick pass to the flats or to throw the ball out of bounds.

Montgomery also was asked about the possibility of Ahlers doing more passing.

The freshman and former D.H. Conley star leads ECU with three rushing touchdowns. Against USF he was the team’s top rusher and the only player to score a TD, diving in for a 2-yarder on the opening drive before the Pirate offense had to settle for two field goals the rest of the way.

Herring finished 21-of-48 for 253 yards and an interception. The sophomore has 852 yards, three touchdowns and three INTs for the season.

Ahlers was 1-for-2 for 3 yards against the 4-0 Bulls. He is 1-for-3 for the year, and Ifedi is 1-for-1 for 5 yards.

“At the beginning of the second half I was very close to putting (Ifedi) in because I thought Reid wouldn’t be able to be mobile, but of course Reid talked us out of it,” Montgomery said. “We went with Reid. … If we get typecast (with Ahlers) that is something I’m not really worried about because I just know that when he has the ball on fourth-and-1 or third-and-1 or third-and-2 situations, he is the best option we have.”

At running back, Darius Pinnix, Anthony Scott and Hussein Howe continue to work in a rotation for carries. Montgomery also lauded quality rotations at defensive line and the defensive secondary working well for ECU.

Gore has been out since suffering a hit to the head during the game against North Carolina on Sept. 8. Junior college addition and first-year Pirate Michael Witherspoon started for Gore against USF and recovered a fumble.

“More people are getting opportunities and we have a lot more depth and that is helping us, so we are in a little better shape than we were last year,” Montgomery said of the Pirates’ injury report that Monday still featured only reserves Ben Norris and Donovan Noel as definitely out.

ODU’s upset of the Hokies was sparked by backup QB Blake LaRussa, who replaced Steven Williams during the contest and finished 30-of-49 passing for 495 yards and four touchdowns along with rushing for a TD. The junior is slated to make his first start of the season, and fifth of his career, versus the Pirates.

“We saw him come in and really throw the ball effectively down the field and also add different elements to the passing game that quite frankly we hadn’t seen before last week,” Montgomery said. “That’s the one advantage that we’ll take from the Old Dominion-Virginia Tech game.”

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

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