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BYH, some see the glass as half empty. I say just get a smaller glass and quit complaining....

Pirate freshmen finding their way

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East Carolina's C.J. Johnson gets set at receiver during his collegiate debut at N.C. State on Aug. 31.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, September 9, 2019

Some East Carolina freshmen had already proven themselves earlier in the fall, and some got the chance to do so during extended playing time Saturday night in a 48-9 football rout of Gardner-Webb at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

No rookie has made a bigger impact than cornerback Ja'Quan McMillian, who started against N.C. State and Gardner-Webb and snagged the Pirates' first takeaway of the season when he cut in front of a G-W receiver late in the second quarter and caught an interception. It set up a short Holton Ahlers touchdown run for a 31-7 lead.

On offense, freshman running back Demetrius Mauney shined during the fourth quarter to the tune of 107 yards on 13 carries.

"Saturday is when he looked like the guy we saw early in preseason camp that we got so excited about it," Pirate coach Mike Houston said Monday during the American Athletic Conference coaches teleconference. "Demetrius has really good vision and really good feet with the ability to make subtle cuts in the run game. ... I was little surprised he didn't break one (for a touchdown), because certainly he got into the secondary a couple of times."

Receiver and D.H. Conley product C.J. Johnson, who is 6-foot-2 and 229 pounds, through two weeks is already established as a key role player for the Pirates (1-1). He caught what looked like his first TD pass on Saturday, a 19-yarder from former Conley teammate Ahlers during the third quarter, but the score was nullified by a Pirate penalty for an illegal lineman downfield.

Graham native Jsi Hatfield is shifty and built much differently from Johnson at 5-9, 174. He was used as a kickoff returner and for the second straight week was involved in quick misdirection plays on offense. Hatfield's jet sweep run of 15 yards highlighted a night that included two rushes and one reception for a total of 41 yards.

He also had a 21-yard kick return.

"He is going to develop into a player, in time, who is going to be pretty dynamic for us," Houston said. "Right now, we are trying to find ways to get him the ball whether it is in the return game or offensively. I was pleased with the way he played Saturday, and everybody kind of saw those flashes that shows his potential."

Hatfield's six receptions are second among all ECU pass-catchers. Johnson has three catches for 24 yards.

Free safety Jireh Wilson filled in for Tank Robinson on Saturday after Robinson was ejected for targeting during the second quarter. Houston said Robinson is eligible to play immediately and start against Navy this week, but the second half for Wilson also proved valuable.

"Tank has to be smarter than that," Houston said of the targeting call. "That's not what we teach and he'll made the adjustments there, but I thought the way Jireh responded and played was really positive. In his first real live action at the college level, he didn't stand out in a negative way at all and made several good plays."

ECU's win over Gardner-Webb gave the Pirates a 12-3 record in their last 15 home-openers.

Mauney's big night against the Bulldogs moved him to second on the Pirates in rushing attempts (15) and yards (104). Senior Hussein Howe, who like Mauney is a reserve to starter Darius Pinnix (32-157), has 17 yards on nine carries.

Navy, which beat Holy Cross 45-7 in Week 1 and then had a bye, was listed Monday as a 7.5-point favorite for the game against the Pirates that will kick off at 3:30 p.m. in Annapolis, Md.

"They probably did not have to show very much off against Holy Cross," Houston said. "We'll see some things Saturday that they haven't shown this year or whatever wrinkles they worked on in the offseason. I'm sure well see that pretty quick on Saturday."

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

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

ECU

September 14, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Add quarterback Malcolm Perry prominently to the list of Navy football players to enjoy spinning, shaking, shedding and sizzling the East Carolina football defense.

In a series that began in 2006 and has been dictated by the Midshipmen and their punishing and methodical…

East Carolina Navy Football

September 14, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Navy cruised to a 2-0 record in a frustrating day Saturday for East Carolina football, which lost 42-10 to the Midshipmen for ECU to drop to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the American Athletic Conference in coach Mike Houston’s first season with the Pirates.

Here are three…

East Carolina Navy Football-4

September 14, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Among the improbable things for a disastrous day by the East Carolina football team Saturday was that Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry passed for more yards than Holton Ahlers.

Perry and a stingy Navy defense led the charge in the Midshipmen's 42-10 rout of the Pirates in the…

East Carolina Navy Football-3

September 14, 2019

Here are three Navy players to keep an eye on as East Carolina heads to Annapolis, Md., to face the Midshipmen in American Athletic Conference action:

Malcolm Perry

Any Navy team runs as good as its quarterback. Perry, a senior former running back, is far from a perfect passer but he remains as one…

Navy Football Preview

September 14, 2019

Q: What is your favorite form of social media?

A: I would say Twitter. It’s more active, everybody is on Twitter. I like Instagram, too, but I like Twitter more.

Q: Where is your favorite spot to eat at in Greenville?

A: I will say Kickback Jacks. I like Kickback Jacks. I love their spinach…

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September 14, 2019

These three questions appeared in our Pirate Gameday section to preview East Carolina versus Navy in football. 

The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network. Check back after the game for the answers:

1. Any turnovers by the Pirates? Because of time of possession, turnovers…

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September 14, 2019

Mike Houston didn't celebrate too long after his first victory as East Carolina's football coach, partly because he knew what was ahead in this week's trip trip to Navy.

ECU (1-1) and Navy (1-0) play their respective first American Athletic Conference game of the season today in a 3:30 p.m. kickoff…

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September 13, 2019

Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo said earlier this week that he wants to see more passes this year from quarterback Malcolm Perry.

East Carolina defensive coordinator Bob Trott is not putting too much stock into any new Navy mindset and is still planning to mainly see running plays Saturday when…

Navy Football

September 12, 2019

East Carolina first-year athletics director Jon Gilbert said he noticed even before kickoff last Saturday night at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium that slow concessions could be an issue that could increase as the night progressed for ECU’s first home football game of the season, so he put a priority…

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September 12, 2019

East Carolina’s football team heads north on Saturday to play Navy, which has beaten the Pirates in three straight meetings and holds a 5-1 all-time advantage in the series.

It will be the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams and coach Mike Houston’s league debut with the…

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