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South Carolina's Cam Smith, right, defends a pass intended for East Carolina's Tyler Savage on Sept. 11 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. 

The East Carolina football team’s lone matchup against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent, Charleston Southern, is at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The broadcast is on ESPN+.

Here are three questions heading into the game:

1. Any minutes for backup QB/RBs?The only quarterback to play for ECU this year is starter Holton Ahlers.

Also in the backfield, freshman Joseph McKay has not received a carry. Keaton Mitchell and Rahjai Harris totaled 66 carries during the team’s first three games.

Ahlers solidified himself as the Pirates’ starting QB with a command performance a week ago in a win at Marshall. He has had full public support of ECU’s coaches all year, but an FCS matchup also is a great opportunity for the Pirates to give some meaningful snaps to Mason Garcia, a second-year freshman, in various situations if ECU is able to gain control and get starters some rest.

2. Chambers rushing yards?

The East Carolina run defense has been inconsistent, which the visiting Buccaneers undoubtedly will try to exploit with their dual-threat QB Jack Chambers and traditional running backs. A productive rushing attack also would help CSU with time of possession and gaining momentum and trust in the trenches.


Appalachian State totaled 226 rushing yards versus ECU in Week 1, then the Pirates bounced back in yielding 99 yards on 39 carries to South Carolina in their best defensive performance of the year. Marshall a week ago totaled 647 yards, including 214 on the ground, despite losing to ECU.

How the Pirates use a spy or handle Chambers’ run ability will be a big part of their defensive plan.

3. Halftime score?

The Pirates have scored the first touchdown in all three of their games, but led at halftime only once, in the game versus South Carolina. ECU was up 14-7 on the Gamecocks at the half in its last game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Using any momentum from the comeback win over Marshall, which scored 28 first-half points last Saturday night but was shut out in the fourth, for early points versus the Bucs would ECU establish itself in this matchup. ECU scored a touchdown on its first drive against Marshall, but then lost a fumble on its next possession and didn’t score the rest of the opening quarter.

As the FCS team, Charleston Southern surely wants to keep the game competitive and the score close into the third quarter and potentially the fourth as it tries for the road upset.

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