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ECU football hoping to carry over momentum from last season and create momentum in season opener

Returners and Turnovers the talk as Pirates prepare for App. State
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 6:19 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - It’s game week here for ECU football they kick off Thursday night against App. State in Charlotte. It’s the 32nd meeting between the two teams all time. ECU has won the last 6. They have never played a neutral site game in the series. ECU says this group of players is more prepared for a season opener than they ever have been.

“Anytime you can look to your side and have guys that you have been there before with and trust and know what they are about that’s a huge advantage,” says ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers, “That’s something I haven’t had and a lot of colleges haven’t had to start a season.”

“When we get certain looks we know what the guys are going to do so we can react better,” says ECU lineman Sean Bailey, “Like switch and twists, working the linebackers, double teams stuff like that.”

The carry over with returning players is being felt on both sides of the ball for the Pirates.

“Just having that second year of the same defense under our belt,” says ECU defensive lineman Xavier Smith, “It’s just a great feeling, we’re more confident, we’re more prepared and hopefully that will show up on gameday.”

After back-to-back wins to end last season they hope all those returners can carry over the momentum to the opener as well.

“We played really well at times last year. We certainly finished strong,” says ECU head football coach Mike Houston, “We’ve shown tremendous potential.”

Potential they hope to realize by controlling and creating momentum in the game with App State.

“Turnovers will be a factor in this ball game. Which team can take care of the ball, which team can force some mistakes,” says Houston.

“Focused on turnovers. All about the ball,” says ECU defensive coordinator Blake Harrell, “Whether its an interception, matching hands with the quarterback, strip sacks, punching the ball out on running backs.”

The Pirates know they’ll have to stay even keeled for four quarters.

“The players can feel that energy,” says ECU offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick, “if you are scoring, you try not to get too excited. If you are not scoring, you try not to panic too much. So you just try to play the game out it’s just got some ups and downs to it.”

“It will tell us what we have,” says Houston, “it will tell us where we stand.”

Everyone is excited to get back to that college football atmosphere. The crowd size has grown each of the past few meetings and they expect another huge crowd on Thursday in Charlotte. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM.

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