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Pirates use three QBs in win

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East Carolina's Reid Herring throws a pass during Saturday's game against Old Dominion. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, September 29, 2018

East Carolina football coach Scottie Montgomery talked this week about all three of his quarterbacks, then he backed up his words promptly in Saturday’s 37-35 win against Old Dominion by using all three of them on the Pirates’ first offensive drive.

Reid Herring started as expected, but Kingsley Ifedi came in for a few plays and Holton Ahlers capped the drive with a handoff to Anthony Scott for a touchdown.

Ahlers sparked ECU later with a 49-yard touchdown run during the third quarter for a 28-27 Pirate lead, but the true freshman left-hander faltered passing the ball after that and it was Herring who hit Tahj Deans for a 4-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal with 5:22 remaining in the game. Herring also led the game-winning drive, which ended with Jake Verity making a 38-yard field goal during the final minute.

ECU’s first-year starting QB threw two interceptions against ODU and it looked like Ahlers was in for good after his long touchdown run, but Herring got a chance in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback victory.

“They just told me to stay focused and keep my head up and go win the game for us,” Herring said of the coaching staff. “I went out there and played for my guys and tried to do better. I feel like we made enough plays as an offense to win the game.”

Herring finished 24-of-42 for 309 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Ahlers led ECU in rushing with eight carries for 63 yards and a score.

Montgomery did not elaborate when asked after the game about a possible quarterback rotation moving forward. ECU is set to face the meat of its American Athletic Conference, beginning next Saturday at Temple and followed by three league home games.

“Let’s enjoy tonight and let me enjoy tonight,” Montgomery said. “My 9-year-old will ask the same question, because he likes all three of them. Let me enjoy tonight and you’ll be able to get me on Tuesday or Wednesday after practice, but I still may not have an answer.”

Ifedi and Ahlers, who came into the contest as the team-leader with three rushing touchdowns in two games, were used in similar fashion in the backfield. Ifedi’s lone run went 5 yards, and he didn’t play after ECU’s first drive.

Herring twisted his ankle last week against South Florida and did not practice Tuesday.

Ahlers, a true freshman from D.H. Conley High School, has played in three straight games since sitting the Week 1 loss to North Carolina A&T. He can play in up to four games and still redshirt, although redshirting seems unlikely at this point.

The ECU opening drive spanned 13 plays and went 75 yards. Ahlers’ lone play was a read option in which Scott took the hand off and burst up the middle untouched for a 4-yard score.

Herring helped the Pirates eclipse the 250-yard mark of offense by the second quarter, finishing the first half 16-of-24 passing for 186 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on a tipped ball.

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

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