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ECU power combo ready to run

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East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers runs against North Carolina at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium as he is flanked by running back Darius Pinnix on Sept. 8, 2018.

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Friday, April 5, 2019

East Carolina football’s second spring scrimmage will be set up similar to last Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, but it also will not be a carbon copy in terms of full details and situations.

Coach Mike Houston said after Friday morning’s workout that there will be some new wrinkles and simulations for Saturday’s scrimmage, including a two-minute drill with the offense trying to rally for late points.

“Nerves should be settled a little bit more, but hopefully you see two squads going at it,” he said. “Obviously we’ve continued to evolve and we have a lot more in this week than we did last week, on both sides of the ball. We’re going to simulate an end of the game kind of deal with a two-minute drill to finish the day.”

When asked about the Pirates’ run game, Houston again lauded Darius Pinnix and how his physical style stands out during spring drills. The 2016 Football Championship Subdivision national champion coach at James Madison said at this point in the spring, coaches are looking to determine who could be the Nos. 2 and 3 running backs behind Pinnix, who carried the ball 56 times for 222 yards last season.

No. 1 quarterback Holton Ahlers led ECU in rushing attempts (119), yards (592) and touchdowns (six) as a freshman in 2018, but all QBs wear red jerseys and are mainly guarded against hits during spring practices.

“(Ahlers) would love for me to let him go full speed and that’s the one thing about him I don’t doubt is his mental makeup,” Houston said of the Greenville native who is working ahead of Reid Herring and Bryan Gagg at quarterback. “He is what you want, but you can’t play quarterback like a middle linebacker all the time. … But that kind of fight and that kind of competitor, that is what you want in your entire program across the board at every single roster spot.

“You don’t really know exactly how good that (run) portion is until we get to that first ball game, because we are not going to beat on him and you can’t do that to your quarterbacks, but I am excited to see him play within our offense.”

Ahlers is listed as a 6-foot-3, 236-pound left-hander. Pinnix is 6-feet and 227 pounds.

On defense is where ECU is making major scheme and philosophical changes compared to previous seasons, which ended with 3-9 records each of the last three years under former head coach Scottie Montgomery and multiple different defensive coordinators.

Houston brought both offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick and defensive coordinator Bob Trott with him from JMU.

“We are pretty diverse and haven’t been able to get into all of that stuff this spring, with only 15 practices, but by the time we see N.C. State on Aug. 31 we should have our full defensive playbook in,” Houston said.

The Pirates had Pinnix, a rising junior, and Trace Christian each run for a touchdown during the first scrimmage, part of Pinnix carrying 18 times for 59 yards.

Defensive linemen Chance Purvis and Alex Turner also have thrived at times learning a new scheme. Purvis led the defense with eight tackles and two sacks last Saturday.

“I told them that at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning for our team meeting, they better be locked in and ready to go and to compete,” Houston said. “We have a lot to find out about ourselves tomorrow. We have to challenge each other, so I’m really looking forward to it.

“There is a lot of urgency right now and nobody wants any part of what has been here the last couple of years. We have to change it.”

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

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ECU

September 19, 2019

Wednesday was publicly the day that East Carolina’s football representatives were done with talking about the loss to Navy last week.

The Pirates are fully focused on Saturday’s 6 p.m. home kickoff against William & Mary, which for defensive coordinator Bob Trott meant that he…

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September 19, 2019

The Connecticut women's basketball team's final trip to Minges Coliseum as an American Athletic Conference opponent will be Jan. 25 at 1 p.m. as part of a women's-men's doubleheader for East Carolina hoops.

In conjunction with the American Athletic Conference, the Pirates and first-year…

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September 19, 2019

East Carolina football's second home game of the season is against William & Mary at 6 p.m. for family weekend. It can be streamed on ESPN3 as the Pirates (2-1) are looking to even their record after a loss at Navy.

Check out below for beat writer Ronnie Woodward's three questions you need…

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September 18, 2019

A fast and aggressive N.C. State women's soccer team quickly built an insurmountable lead against an injury-depleted East Carolina squad on Wednesday night, erasing the chance for a Pirate upset in front of an energetic crowd packed into Johnson Stadium, the fifth-largest ever at the venue for…

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September 18, 2019

Senior middle blocker Toya Osuegbu hit a program single-match record .833 percentage to lift East Carolina volleyball to a 3-1 win (25-17, 25-23, 23-25, 25-17) over N.C. Central on Tuesday night in Minges Coliseum for the Pirates’ fifth straight victory.

Osuegbu finished with 10 kills and no…

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September 18, 2019

After grinding as a third-teamer during spring practice and preseason camp and serving a two-game suspension to begin his senior season, East Carolina cornerback Colby Gore has positioned himself again as a starter, and the Pirates want to keep it that way.

Gore started against Navy last Saturday…

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September 18, 2019

A concern for East Carolina athletics officials as they are still trying to rejuvenate the Pirates' fan base and get fans back to fill Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is a decline in Student Pirate Club membership.

Pirate Club executive director Phillip Wood presented numbers during last week's university…

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September 17, 2019

Quarterback Holton Ahlers and senior running back Hussein Howe are set to lead the East Carolina football offense in Saturday's game against William & Mary.

The depth chart for ECU (1-2), which lost 42-10 at Navy on Saturday, distributed before first-year coach Mike Houston's news conference…

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September 17, 2019

Former East Carolina football head coach Scottie Montgomery, who was fired by ECU last December and is offensive coordinator at Maryland, played a big role in the Terrapins' 2-0 start to the season and No. 21 national ranking.

That included scoring 142 total points during the first two weeks.

But…

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September 16, 2019

Without giving much detail on the specifics of the injury, East Carolina football coach Mike Houston said Monday that starting running back Darius Pinnix got hurt while rushing for a career-high 134 yards against Gardner-Webb during Week 2 of the season.

Pinnix traveled with the Pirates to Navy on…

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