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Temple, ECU looking to move up standings

Temple Boston College Football

Temple running back Ryquell Armstead (7) dives into the end zone for one of his four touchdowns against Boston College, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, October 4, 2018

South Florida, Central Florida and the American Athletic Conference’s surprise football team — Cincinnati and its 5-0 record — are the AAC’s three undefeated teams heading into Week 6 of the season.

The two Florida schools are still considered the favorites in the AAC East division, although they are joined by Cincinnati and Temple with 1-0 league records. Some clarity in the conference is expected to emerge with this week’s slate of games.

East Carolina (2-2, 0-1) faces Temple (2-3, 1-0) in Philadelphia on Saturday at noon, which is also when Cincy hosts AAC West co-leader Tulane (2-3, 1-0). The other matchup featuring teams with 1-0 AAC records is at night when SMU plays at UCF.

ECU, which beat Old Dominion 37-35 last Saturday, has not won consecutive games since starting 2-0 in 2016 with victories against Western Carolina and N.C. State. The Owls are 2-1 since they began this season with home losses to Villanova and Buffalo.

“I’m thankful that we’ve been put in some tough situations, some that we came out on the short end, but they’ve battled every step of the way and learned something new every week,” Temple coach Geoff Collins said on the AAC coaches teleconference earlier this week. “Our conference is really good and we know the teams we have coming up, especially this week, are very talented and well-coached. We have to use those lessons we have learned in the first five games to play at a really high level.”

It is the Pirates’ defense that has been their most consistent unit this year.

Despite inconsistent play at quarterback, Temple has relied on its power run game and big-play ability on defense and special teams to score more than 30 points in three straight weeks. Yardage has not been a problem for the Pirate offense, but it scored only one touchdown in its lone league contest, a 20-13 setback at South Florida on Sept. 22.

“We’re in AAC play now and every week there is going to be great offense,” Pirate first-year defensive coordinator David Blackwell said. “Every week will be a great challenge and a different challenge. We have to show up week to week, because consistency is what makes great defenses. We can’t be a flash in the pan.”

Stopping Temple usually begins with keying on its running backs.

This year it is senior Ryquell Armstead leading the way, and he’s been a workhorse with 102 carries for 534 yards. Fullback Rob Ritrovato, who is also a senior, is second on the team with 16 rushes for 44 yards.

Armstead’s career high for yards in a game came in 2016 when he totaled 210 against USF. He nearly reached the 200-yard mark a week ago in a 45-35 loss to Boston College, carrying the ball 24 times for 171 yards and four touchdowns.

“He is running his heart out every single play, then he does a tremendous job in pass protection,” Collins said. “Even in the run game, he is the lead blocker on a lot of plays and does a great job.”

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

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Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

ECU

October 21, 2018

These three questions appeared in The Daily Reflector’s Pirate Gameday section previewing East Carolina’s home football game against 10th-ranked Central Florida, which ended with UCF pulling away for a 37-10 victory on homecoming night at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Here are the answers, and…

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October 20, 2018

As the final seconds ticked off the clock at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday night, two numbers still resonated with the matchup between 10th-ranked Central Florida and upset-minded East Carolina.

One. Twenty.

Freshman quarterback and Greenville native Holton Ahlers was making his first start and…

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October 20, 2018

A wet ball proved to be the first major stumbling block in the first-career start by East Carolina freshman quarterback Holton Ahlers in a 37-10 loss to Central Florida on Saturday night.

After marching his trailing Pirates to the UCF goal line early in the fourth quarter, Ahlers tried a jump pass…

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October 20, 2018

These three questions appeared in The Daily Reflector’s Pirate Gameday section previewing East Carolina’s home football game against 10th-ranked Central Florida. 

Check back after the primetime matchup for answers to the questions and more insight from the game.

1. Who wins the…

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October 20, 2018

Before Holton Ahlers signed on Dec. 20, 2017, to play football at East Carolina, he was a star quarterback at D.H. Conley High School. Before that, a baseball slugger unlike anyone else who had ever played on Greenville recreational fields.

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October 20, 2018

New starting quarterback Holton Ahlers and East Carolina welcome undefeated Central Florida to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium tonight for a primetime matchup on ESPN2 that many people around the country will at least check in on to see if UCF could get upended.

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October 20, 2018

Q: Why did you want to major in criminal justice?

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October 19, 2018

While the American Athletic Conference East division remains a three-team race, Houston is in the driver’s seat as the only remaining unbeaten team in the West.

Houston, which just defeated East Carolina 42-20 and has won its first two league games by an average 18.5 points, moved to No. 2 in…

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October 19, 2018

Central Florida’s 19-game football winning streak saw its closest contest yet last Saturday at Memphis.

The 10th-ranked Knights recovered from a slow start and rallied to win, 31-30, for a 6-0 record this season.

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SMU UCF Football

October 18, 2018

Less than three weeks away from starting a new season on Nov. 6, the East Carolina women’s basketball team had a major change in leadership Wednesday when head coach Heather Macy resigned at the conclusion of an ECU internal review into the program.

Macy, who is the winningest coach in ECU…

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