ECU-NAVY: Three answers
By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Saturday, 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 answers from the game:
1. Any turnovers by the Pirates? ECU had two — a Holton Ahlers overthrow for an interception and Demetrius Mauney fumble, both in the fourth quarter — and there was one by Navy.
But more important, three-and-outs are costly against a team like Navy and ECU’s opening possession was costly. After receiving the opening kickoff, the first play was a 3-yard run by Hussein Howe to the 26-yard line, then a false start penalty and a rush of no gain by Howe. An Ahlers’ incompletion on 3rd-and-12 was followed by another false start and then a 22-yard punt by Jonn Young. Navy capitalized and scored a touchdown on the ensuing possession to set the tone for a rout.
ECU had three possessions during the first quarter and three punts. The Midshipmen took a decisive 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.
"That was the worst case scenario, outside of a turnover," Houston said. "A quick three-and-out and a short punt and having the first two possessions we had, that is not the way you want to start.”
2. Total yards -- Perry versus Ahlers? The final yards were 307 for Malcolm Perry and 174 for Ahlers. It was almost an even split for Perry, a shifty senior who had one of the best games of his career with 151 passing and 156 rushing.
Most surprising was that the Navy run-first QB had more passing yards than Ahlers. ECU’s quarterback faced four QB hurries and he finished 11-of-23 for 138 yards.
Perry was the star of the game, accounting for six total touchdowns (four rushing, two passing) for the first time in his career.
3. How does ECU's defense change? The major difference for the Pirates was that Colby Gore started at cornerback after being suspended for the first two games of the season. He and Ja’Quan McMillian formed the Pirates’ lead duo at CB for the game. ECU’s defensive tackles were the main force in limiting fullback Nelson Smith to 3.7 yards per carry (14 rushes, 52 yards), but it was mainly Perry and his ability to get to the second level of the Pirate defense and beyond with his speed and skills that had a major impact in the game.
Consistent running by Perry also set up long pass attempts for a very smooth and efficient day by the Navy offense.
Contact Ronnie Woodward at email@example.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.