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East Carolina's Darius Pinnix (7) receives a hand-off from quarterback Holton Ahlers at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium against Gardner-Webb on Sept. 7, 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 Saturday, but he did not warm up and was not in pads as Hussein Howe started and freshman Demetrius Mauney came on to receive the most carries with 12 rushes for 23 yards. Navy won 42-10, out-rushing the Pirates 315-84.

“I don’t think we really need to get into specifics, but right now, (Pinnix) is working on getting himself healed up and ready to play,” Houston said during the American Athletic Conference coaches teleconference.

The Pirates (1-2, 0-1 American) have rushed for 490 yards and six touchdowns in Houston’s first season at ECU. They have allowed 545 yards on the ground and eight touchdowns.

Pinnix still leads ECU, totaling 157 yards on 32 carries through three weeks. Mauney is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and quarterback Holton Ahlers is at 4.3.

Mauney and Pinnix, a junior at 6-feet and 234 pounds, each had 100-yard rushing outings in a 48-9 rout of Gardner-Webb in ECU’s lone home game.

But in road losses to N.C. State (34-6) and Navy, Ahlers led the Pirates in rushing during frustrating days for ECU’s offense. The 6-3, 235-pound QB was not sacked by Navy, but he did face four quarterback hurries and was forced to move around a lot in the pocket, finishing with nine carries for 36 yards and a 2-yard TD run.

Howe had six rushes for 31 yards while alternating in the backfield with Mauney.

“Certainly, (running the ball) is something that is important to me, philosophy-wise, and I don't know how much of an importance it was for the previous staff,” said Houston, whose team hosts William & Mary at 6 p.m. this Saturday. “It’s a place where we will really work to develop that room. I thought Darius had a nice start to the year, but obviously we did not have him last week and so we had some younger players getting an opportunity. In time, they are going to be just fine, it is just we have to bring them along.”

East Carolina ranks 77th in the country in rushing (163.3 yards per game) and 98th in total offense (355.0).

Freshman slot receiver Jsi Hatfield also had two carries against Navy, one of which looked to be a reverse pass, but he was chased and brought down in the backfield before being able to throw the ball.

Sophomore Trace Christian and redshirt freshman Tay Williams, both running backs, have not played this year.

Navy’s victory over the Pirates handed ECU its 10th straight road loss. Midshipmen senior quarterback Malcolm Perry controlled the game with 24 runs for 156 yards and four touchdowns, and he passed for two more TDs.

“We were disappointed in not being able to get a win at Navy, but I thought that Navy coming off a bit of a down year last year and they had one game against Holy Cross in the opener and a couple weeks to get ready for our game, I thought they looked vastly improved from what I saw on film from last year,” Houston said. “They played really, really well on Saturday. ... It’s a tough way to start league play, but at the same time, it is kind of the next step in the progression as a program and where we are trying to go and we obviously have to improve to a point where we are much more competitive against a team like that.”

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

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