This just didn’t look like the same team on the field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
It was East Carolina’s third straight win over UNC-Chapel Hill.
“I love beating the Tar Heels,” ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery said after Saturday’s game.
Many a Pirate would say the exact same thing.
Former D.H. Conley star Holton Ahlers jump-started the Pirate running game with a couple of touchdowns. He was also a significant player in Darius Pinnix’s 48 yard touchdown run. The Tar Heel safety came down hard on the Pirate quarterback, opening the way for Pinnix to sprint to the end zone for six.
Ahlers didn’t win the game by himself, but he certainly provided a much needed spark to the running game from the quarterback position. He can play in three more games before he loses his redshirt status.
That was the question posed to Coach Montgomery on Monday during his press conference.
“That’s something that we monitor based on what the defense shows us,” said Montgomery. “But we’d like to see him continue to play up until we get to a point where we can get our run game going with and without him. That can kind of make the decision on where we go with Holton.”
Montgomery may not be able to afford not to play Ahlers. Despite the big win over North Carolina, Coach Mo needs to get to six wins or at least close to that total in his third year.
As big as the win on Saturday was, it took a back seat to Hurricane Florence on Monday.
The Pirates are scheduled to play Virginia Tech this Saturday, but meteorologists in Roanoke are calling for up to 20 inches of rain for game day. Currently the hurricane is taking dead aim on the Carolinas and should hit late Thursday or early Friday.
“We actually started talking about it on Saturday evening,” said Montgomery. “Not the effect on the game, but mostly the effect on our kids, the student-athletes and the people in our building, our staffers, and their families. So that’s something we started to talk about.”
ECU, Virginia Tech and ACC officials all met at various times on Monday, trying to come up with a plan of action for the weekend. The Pirates are making plans to leave town at least a day early. Moving the game to another date doesn’t look like it’s an option.
If the game is played the Pirates will encounter what looks to be a very good Virginia Tech team. The Hokies looked like world beaters in their opener, that Labor Day Monday night win at Florida State. They also have a route over Williams & Mary on their 2018 resume to date.
Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster is one of the absolute best at his craft. His defense is young, but very talented. This will be the best team the Pirates play in 2018.
“We’re going into a very hostile environment with a great crowd,” said Montgomery. “But the best thing in the stadium is their football team – a really, really good football team. They play hard. Defensively, they’re only returning three starters, but the guys coming in are great players. Offensively, the thing that puts you in the most angst is what they do in their backfield. They can use multiple sets on you to get the ball ran.
“he quarterback is really talented. The back out there is having a stellar year. We’re going to have our hands full on defense and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The challenges this week are multiple. Preparing to play a football game with a major hurricane barreling down on you will be tough. Add in the talent this Virginia Tech team has and the Pirates will be double-digit underdogs.
That was also the case last week, and we saw how that turned out.
Hopefully the game will be played this week. This is a Pirate team with new confidence after the win over the Tar Heels.
Be safe in the storm everyone!