Sunday, September 3, 2017

East Carolina Struggles in Loss to Defending FCS Champs

It was a long night for the Pirate faithful in Greenville as the East Carolina (0-1) football team was never able to find its footing offensively and defensively had difficulties stopping a James Madison (1-0) team that gained over 600 yards of offense on its way to a 34-14 victory at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The Dukes were able to get inside of the red zone multiple times in the first half but were unable to convert. JMU head coach Mike Houston was proud of how his team played through these setbacks. "My fear was we were playing so well but we were making critical mistakes so your fear is you play well and lose the game. I was glad that our kids didn’t get frustrated and didn’t get down, kept plugging, kept their heads down and I think their character and resiliency is what really stuck through in the first half."

It was a close game that was only a 7-0 affair at the half, but James Madison was able to lay it on in the second half, rushing for over 300 yards and outscoring the Pirates 27-14 over the final two quarters.

Darius Pinnix
"It’s very disappointing. For some of our first-time starters, their nerves were much bigger than we thought. We put them in scrimmage situations to get to this point and we just didn’t respond. I thought our offensive line play was poor," stated ECU coach Scottie Montgomery after the game.

Although Western Alamance's Darius Pinnix scored his first career TD on a six-yard run in the third quarter to make it a one-possession game, the Pirates were unable to capitalize on this momentum and allowed the Dukes to rattle off three more scores before former Havelock standout Derrell Scott scored his first career rushing TD in the fourth quarter. By this time, it was too little, too late for the Pirates to recover.

Derrell Scott
James Madison’s 614 total yards are the sixth most by an ECU opponent in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Their 424 rushing yards are the eighth most allowed by ECU in school history, while it is the fourth most ground yards by an opponent at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

"I thought our defensive line did some really good things and created some spots for our linebackers to get off the spot but we had a poor game all the way around. 600-plus yards of offense to our 300-plus yards of offense, but it was about how many plays they had and how many plays we had and what they did with their plays," Montgomery mentioned after the game.

The Pirates had their five-game win streak snapped in season openers as well as their 25-game winning streak against FCS opponents. The Pirates how now lost twenty-three straight games when scoring 20 or fewer points.

East Carolina returns to the gridiron next Saturday in Morgantown, West Virginia to take on a Mountaineer team looking to challenge for a Big XII title.