GREENVILLE, N.C. – The wins keep coming for East Carolina against Atlantic Coast Conference teams, only now with a new coach passionately pushing the Pirates from the sideline.
Anthony Scott scored the go-ahead touchdown with 5:49 left to help ECU beat North Carolina State 33-30 on Saturday for the program's sixth straight win against ACC opponents.
The Pirates (2-0), an American Athletic Conference member, have now beaten N.C. State (1-1), North Carolina and Virginia Tech twice each dating to the 2013 season.
"People want to talk down or look down on us like we're a scrub team," receiver Zay Jones said. "And that's fine. But when you've got to come out here and play football, that's the only thing that matters.
"You can talk all you want. You've got to talk with your pads. That's what we did today."
The Pirates missed two shots at a field goal, had two turnovers and even had Scott drop a sure TD when he got behind the Wolfpack's defense. But on a hot day backed by a rowdy home crowd, they did enough after blowing a 12-0 lead and falling behind 30-26 early in the fourth.
"They were as physical as advertised," East Carolina coach Scottie Montgomery said. "A lot of times we couldn't get them on the ground, sometimes we couldn't block them. But what we did do today, we played together."
Scott scored twice for ECU along with James Summers, whose second TD was a 15-yarder that saw him running through hits and dragging tacklers into the end zone.
N.C. State got a final chance from its own 38-yard line with 51 seconds left and no timeouts. After crossing midfield, Ryan Finley's 22-yard pass over the middle to Bra'Lon Cherry killed the final seconds. ECU players spilled onto the field to celebrate while Montgomery crossed his arms into a crossbones-style celebration toward the Pirates' crowd.
Matt Dayes ran for 103 yards for the Wolfpack, while Finley, Jaylen Samuels and Reggie Gallaspy II each ran for touchdowns.
"I told our team that we had our chances, that we were not opportunistic at key moments," Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said.
N.C. STATE: While N.C. State's new offense racked up 497 yards, its defense struggled to keep up in its first true test. That doesn't bode well with a schedule that only gets tougher with No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Florida State, No. 13 Louisville, No. 18 Notre Dame and No. 25 Miami still to come.
"I told them, 'We've got 10 games left and we can decide what we want to do with them right now,'" Doeren said. "I'm not pointing fingers at them. I said, 'I lost the game, you lost the game, we lost the game.' We need to get back to work and go win one together."
EAST CAROLINA: Montgomery's first big win is sure to charge up the Pirates' fans and give the program a jolt of confidence in the midst of a tough nonconference slate. Not to mention some stuck-it-to-the-big-boys bounce in the step.
N.C. State's list of miscues included a 2-point conversion play that went nowhere, a stuffed fake field goal, two missed kicks, even a 15-yard sideline interference penalty on a drive that ended with Scott's 25-yard TD catch.
"We have to be a more mature team and at the moment of truth, we have to do all the things right to become a better team," Doeren said.
The Pirates converted all three fourth-down opportunities in the first half, including a fourth-and-1 from their own 34.
"My heart was probably racing a little too much in the first half," Montgomery said. "You go for it on fourth down three times in one half, you just want to make sure you give your kids the best opportunity to win."
N.C. STATE: The Wolfpack continues the nonconference schedule with a home game against Old Dominion. N.C. State has won the only two meetings, 46-34 at home in 2014 and 38-14 on the road last year.
EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates travel to South Carolina, the second of three straight against power-conference opponents.
East Carolina will try to capture its sixth-straight victory over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent when it hosts NC State for a non-league matchup Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The Pirates, who begin a stretch of three consecutive matchups against "Power 5" conference foes, have knocked off North Carolina and Virginia Tech twice and the Wolfpack once during their current run of success against the ACC. The tilt versus NC State will also close out ECU's season-opening two-game homestand with road contests at South Carolina (Sept. 17) and Virginia Tech (Sept. 24) looming before American Athletic Conference play begins Oct. 1.
EAST CAROLINA RECORDS AND STREAKS
•Qualified for 10 bowl appearances since 2000 (three of the last four years) ...
•Has won 28 of the last 33 games when scoring 30 or more points ...
•Has lost 18-straight games when scoring 20 or less points (19-14 vs. UCF in '09/last win) ...
•Has won 19 of the last 21 games when gaining 200 or more rushing yards ...
•Has won 28 of the last 30 games when leading at the half ...
•Has won 12 of the last 16, 16 of the last 21 (and 20 of the last 26) home games ...
•Has won nine of the last 13 regular season non-conference games ...
•Has won five-straight games against ACC opponents ...
NC State leads East Carolina 16-12 all-time in a rivalry which dates back to 1970 ... Although the Pirates trail the overall series against the Wolfpack, ECU has had a slight upper hand lately - winning two straight, seven of the last 11 meetings since 1987 (and nine of the last 15 since '83) ... ECU has taken two of three contests at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, but the Wolfpack are 14-8 in Raleigh ... The Pirates have also won two of three neutral site matchups, including the 1992 Peach Bowl.
EAST CAROLINA AGAINST THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
East Carolina has compiled an all-time record of 43-83-1 (.343) against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference ... In addition to a 12-16 mark against NC State, the Pirates own a 7-13 ledger against Virginia Tech, 5-5 vs. Duke, 4-6 vs. Louisville, 3-6 vs. Syracuse, 4-12-1 vs. North Carolina, 2-1 vs. Virginia, 2-2 vs. Pittsburgh, 2-6 vs. Wake Forest, 2-9 vs. Miami and 0-7 vs. Florida State ... As previously mentioned, the Pirates have won five straight.
EAST CAROLINA-NC STATE CONNECTIONS
Not only did ECU Director of Athletics Jeff Compher spend 13 years at NC State, including roles as assistant athletics director and assistant to the chancellor, he also hired current Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren while AD at Northern Illinois in 2010 ... NCSU's offensive line coach and run game coordinator Dwayne Ledford served as the Pirates' graduate assistant coach in 2008 and 2009 and was part of a pair of Conference USA championships for Skip Holtz' program ... The four-year Pirate letterman (1995-98) also spent seven years in the NFL.
AGAINST NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS
Since accepting membership in a conference, the Pirates have produced a 31-47 (.397) regular season nonleague record ... East Carolina claimed its first winning non-conference mark since 1999 (a program-best 5-0 clip) with a 3-1 ledgers in 2013 and 2014 before following with 2-2 mark a year ago.
AT DOWDY-FICKLEN STADIUM - 19-6 SINCE 2012
East Carolina's all-time record at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is 181-90-1 (.667) ... The Pirates opened the facility on Sept. 21, 1963 with a 20-10 win over Brian Piccolo and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in front of 17,000 fans and celebrated the stadium's 50th anniversary in 2013 ... Before a 3-3 record last fall, consecutive 5-1 marks in 2014, 2013 and 2012, a 3-3 ledger in 2011 and a 4-2 clip in 2010, ECU won a combined 10 of 12 home matchups in '09 (6-1) and '08 (4-1) ... Overall, East Carolina has turned in 39 winning campaigns at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium since 1963 ... The Pirates currently enjoy a run of victories in 12 of the last 16 games and 16 of the last 21.
THE PIRATE NATION - NEARING 8 MILLION STRONG
East Carolina has always been able to claim plenty of hometown support, even more so when playing at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium during the fall - establishing itself as a conference attendance leader on an annual basis ... In all, a total of 7,987,847 fans have seen the Pirates in action since 1963, and in the last eight years, ECU has averaged 45,537 (2,185,784/48 regular season games) ... Since the completion of a 7,000-seat expansion project in 2010 that pushed Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium's capacity to 50,000, the Pirates have drawn 1,716,561 fans - recently cracking the 1.5 million mark when 50,514 watched ECU down Virginia Tech last Sept. 26 ... ECU set back-to-back school records in total attendance and season average attendance in 2011, breaking '10 marks (297,987/49,665) with 300,069 and 50,012 figures that year.
ANALYZING THE 2016 OVERALL SCHEDULE
East Carolina's 2016 schedule consists of games against two conference divisional champions (Navy and Temple/American West co-champs and East champs, respectively), eight bowl participants (NC State, Virginia Tech, USF, Navy, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Tulsa, Temple) and two programs that were either ranked or earning votes in the two major Top 25 preseason polls – USF (RV) and Navy (RV). Collectively, the Pirates' opponents this season are a combined 10-2 (.833) after playing their openers last weekend.
SHUTOUT-FREE ... 232 AND COUNTING
ECU will enter the NC State contest with an active streak of 232 games of not suffering a shutout - a school record (previous mark was 110 set from '71 to '81) ... The last time the Pirates were blanked was on Oct. 4, 1997 (56-0 at Syracuse) ... ECU's 232-game run currently ranks 14th among all active FBS streaks and is the 24th-longest in the all-time annals ... Florida currently sits atop the active leaderboard with 346 (began in 1988).
INTRODUCING THIS YEAR'S FIRST-TIME STARTERS
There were eight first-time starters in East Carolina's lineup against Western Carolina Saturday - four on the offensive side of the ball with TE Stephen Baggett, G Garrett McGhin, T Justin Sandifer and RB Anthony Scott, and four more on defense as DE Justin Brown, CB Colby Gore, OLB Pat Green and CB Corey Seargent each made their respective starting debut ... It is worth nothing however that two additional starters - OG Will Dancy (2/North Carolina) and QB Philip Nelson (16/Minnesota) – made their inaugural Pirate appearance against the Catamounts, but did open the game with prior collegiate starting experience.
REDSHIRT REMOVAL 101
A total of eight (8) players had their redshirts removed and experienced action as true freshmen against Western Carolina on Saturday ... Although only one game is in the books for the 2016 campaign, the total is only one short of the highest number of single-season redshirt "burns" in the last 10 years (9/2014) ... First-year head coach Scottie Montgomery elected to play OLB Kendall Futrell, CB Colby Gore, OG Cortez Herrin, RB Hussein Howe, DE Jalen Price, DS Anthony Ratliff, OT D'Ante Smith and DE Alex Turner against the Catamounts.
Senior WR Zay Jones has caught at least one pass in 36-straight games heading into the NC State contest ... The streak, which began with a two-catch, 27-yard effort vs. North Carolina on Sept. 28, 2013, currently ranks in the top five among all active receivers ... His 10-catch, 180-yard effort vs. Western Carolina last week represented the ninth double-digit reception outing and 11th triple-digit yard total of his ECU career … Jones has 16 career touchdown receptions and the Pirates are 13-2 when he snares a scoring catch (only losses were at Florida and BYU on Sept. 12 and Oct. 10, 2015, respectively) ... In his last three games (UCF/Cincinnati in 2015, WCU in 2016), Jones has made 36 receptions for 485 yards - an average of 12.0 grabs and 161.7 yards per game.
THIS AND THAT
INDIVIDUAL NOTES: OL J.T. Boyd (24 games) and FS Travon Simmons (14) own the program's longest starting streaks on their respective side of the ball entering the NC State game ... WR Zay Jones has caught multiple passes in 38 of 39 career games (none vs. VT in 2013) ... Despite the lopsided season-opening win vs. Western Carolina, a trio of Pirate streaks were snapped - P Worth Gregory (had placed at least two punts inside the opponent 20-yard line in nine-straight games), PK Davis Plowman (had made six-straight field goals before misfiring from 39 yards out midway through the fourth quarter) and DE Fred Presley (had made a tackle in 25-straight games before not being credited with a single stop against the Catamounts) ... Prior to his successful Pirate debut vs. WCU, QB Philip Nelson had not played in a collegiate game since Dec. 27, 2013 (was Minnesota's signal-caller against Syracuse in the Texas Bowl and was 2-of-7 passing for 18 yards passing and picked up 14 rushing yards on a pair of carries) ... FS Travon Simmons picked off his second career pass vs. WCU (first came against SMU in 2014) ... ILB Jordan Williams led the Pirates with 10 stops (six solo) vs. the Catamounts, his fifth career double-digit tackle performance (four/2015, one/2016) ... OLB Yiannis Bowden tallied a career-high five tackles (2.0 TFLs) and a pair of QB hurries vs. WCU ... KOS Caleb Pratt drilled four touchbacks in nine kickoffs, pushing his career TB total to 35 (31/2015, 4/2016) ... He has at least one touchback in 10 of 13 career games (has delivered multiple endzone landings on eight occasions). TEAM NOTES: ECU will play 11 straight weeks to open the 2016 campaign (after playing 10-straight weeks to start the 2015 season) ... East Carolina has received the opening kickoff in 44 of the last 50 contests ... The Pirates were flagged only three times for 25 yards vs. WCU, the fewest since Nov. 23, 2013 (v. NC State) - a span of 29 games ... ECU halted a three-game Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium losing streak by downing Western Carolina in its opener (suffered losses to Temple, USF and Cincinnati to close out its 2015 home schedule) ... With Anthony Scott's 120-yard ground effort and Zay Jones' 180 yard receiving night against the Catamounts, the Pirates have now featured a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in the same game in two of their last three outings (at UCF/2015, WCU/2016) ... East Carolina's offensive unit has enjoyed four-straight turnover free performances dating back to last year (had four at Connecticut on Oct. 30 before avoiding any miscues in successive contests against USF, UCF and Cincinnati to close out the 2015 season and WCU to open 2016) ... The Pirates' 52 points vs. Western Carolina matched a school record for most tallies in a season opener (1988/Tennessee Tech, 2013/Old Dominion and 2014/ NC Central were others) ... ECU's 688 yards of total offense were the most ever compiled in a Pirate opener and ranks third (overall) in program history ... The 688 yards also currently stands as the fourth-highest total racked up at the FBS level this season - 1. Ohio State (776 vs. Bowling Green), 2. Texas Tech (758 vs. Stephen F. Austin), 3. Troy (706 vs. Austin Peay), 4. East Carolina (688 vs. Western Carolina), 5. Middle Tennessee (681 vs. Alabama A&M).