Loading...
I see the Mayor is getting out his signs again this year. This is a welcome sight because he deserves another term for...

Pirate defense stands tall in rout

090819_gdr_ecufootball-25.jpg
1 of 2

A pass intended for Gardner-Webb's Chuma Awanna, left, is knocked down by East Carolina's Ja'quan McMillian during a game on Sept. 7, 2019.

090819_gdr_ecufootball-13.jpg
Loading…

BY NATHAN SUMMERS
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, September 7, 2019

All football defenses talk about running to the ball on every play, but for the first time in a long time, East Carolina let its actions speak louder than words in a 48-9 blowout victory over visiting Gardner-Webb on Saturday night.

From the onset, the ECU defense created what was eventually a game-long mismatch, putting hands in the face of and bodies on top of Bulldogs quarterback Jordan Smith and cloaking opposing rushers and receivers all night in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. On their way to a commanding 31-7 halftime lead, the Pirates (1-1) put Smith on the turf multiple times and also saw rookie cornerback Ja'Quan McMillian snare his first-career interception and fall just a yard shy of his first touchdown on the return.

Early in the second half, sophomore Gerard Stringer also snared his first pick on a throw over the middle and also returned it into prime Gardner-Webb real estate. Both turnovers set up ECU offensive touchdowns.

The pressure and the turnovers gave Gardner-Webb no chance at gaining a foothold in the game and forced the visitors to a pedestrian 186 total yards in the game, 39 on the ground.

"It's good to see those," ECU first-year coach Mike Houston said of the turnovers, which have been rare for the Pirates in recent years. "We talked about last week (in a loss at N.C. State) that could have been a big factor. It was great to see defensively us get those two big turnovers and turn them into some real positive yardage and give our offense great field position."

Up front, the foursome led by senior linemen Alex Turner (seven tackles, two sacks) and Kendall Futrell (four tackles, sack) played a direct hand in stifling all but one of Gardner-Webb's drives.

In all, ECU wrapped up five sacks and seven total tackles for loss. Linebacker Xavier Smith led all defenders with 10 tackles and two pass breakups.

"It's great for our whole defense because it builds confidence and it builds chemistry and just the trust, knowing that your guy is going to do his assignment," Turner said. "You can see the improvement that we've made from Week 1 to Week 2."

McMillian, a true freshman from Winston-Salem, put an exclamation point on the dominant first half when he jumped a pass over the middle from Smith at the Bulldog 33 and immediately turned up the right side of the field with blockers in front of him.

The two-time starter had one defender to beat, GWU running back Jayln Cagle, but was brought down at the 1-yard line, setting up an easy touchdown for ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers late in the second quarter.

"It was a great moment," McMillian said of the play, noting that he immediately heard it from teammates on the sideline for not getting into the end zone. "I give all the credit to the D-Line. They were getting after the quarterback all night, which forced the turnovers. It was a great experience."

Houston did not hesitate to sing the praises of his potential budding star.

"One, he's got some dog in him, and he won't back down from anybody, whether it's practice or (a game)," Houston said of McMillian, for whom the coach broke his own rule by allowing the freshman to speak to the media following the game. "But he also has that special ability and that special talent, and he's going to be a really good player for us in time."

Stringer's pick in the third quarter set up a similar return along the right hashmarks that drew a late-hit flag. That helped give rise to an Ahlers-to-Blake Proehl scoring throw that extended the ECU lead to 38-7.

One key defensive loss for ECU came early in the game when safety Tank Robinson was ejected following a helmet-on-helmet hit to GW receiver Izaiah Gaithings. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Jireh Wilson, who made one tackle.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

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

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…

040719ECUfootball-2.JPG

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…

030519ECUbasketball-1.jpg

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…

090819_gdr_ecufootball-32.jpg.jpg

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…

091919_gdr_ecusoccer-3.jpg

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…

081518ECUvolleyball-1.jpg

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…

111818ECUfootball-11.jpg

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…

090819_gdr_ecufootball-18.jpg

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…

090119_gdr_ecufootball-2.jpg

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…

5d7d7a343567c.image.jpg

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…

090819_gdr_ecufootball-22.jpg
197 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 20
        Next Page»   Last Page»