ECU Beats William & Mary 19-7
Jake Verity scored 13 points on four field goals and an extra point to lead ECU to a 19-7 victory over William & Mary Saturday night in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Verity connected from 31, 33, 22 and 45 yards and narrowly missed a 54-yard attempt just right of the goal post to help ECU improve to 2-2 on the season.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to help the team any time I can and anytime I’m called on so that’s what I went out there and did,” Verity stated after the game.
ECU won the coin toss and elected to receive. Holton Ahlers' twenty yard touchdown pass to Anthony Watley got things rolling less than five minutes into the contest before William and Mary scored on a 20-yard Tyler Crist touchdown run to knot the game at 7-7.
That would prove to be the Tribe’s only points of the game and Crist’s longest run in a game where he rushed for 52 yards to go along with 41 from Owen Wright. Kilton Anderson connected on just 10 of 22 pass attempts for 95 yards before Hollis Mathis came in to go 3 of 6 for 44 yards. Five of William and Mary’s completions went to Kane Everson to go along with four catches from Zach Burdick.
"What a great night in our stadium. We're going to look at the film and we've got four million mistakes that we've got to get corrected, but the way the kids competed in the second half. The way they fought to overcome some adversity, the way we played defense. We ran the football in the fourth quarter and that's what you've got to do to win ballgames," said ECU head coach Mike Houston, "Our kids came through and put a good team away in the fourth quarter and that's what you've got to do."
“We wanted to get off to a fast start," Houston said, "We feel like our return unit is coming along more and more each week so we thought we could get pretty good field position to start. The thing we talked about all week is we don’t want to play on our heels, we don’t want to play passive. We’ve got to play aggressive and our thing all week is take our shot. We cannot be a hesitant football team. I thought that was a big momentum boost to start the game.”
Houston assessed Ahlers’ oversall performance at quarterback on Saturday against a pretty solid William & Mary ball club.
“Nobody wants to do great and be the best more than Holton. The thing he needs to continue to come along with is pre-snap decision making and things like that,” said Houston.
“That’s the only thing that frustrates us a little bit. It’s a new offense and a new offensive coordinator, so I thought that he played really well at times tonight and probably the best he’s played this year at times, but we’ve got to continue to bring him along as far as being the general of the offense.”
Ahlers went 20 of 34 through the air for 210 yards. Tyler Snead and freshman C.J. Johnson caught five passes apiece to go along with four catches from Blake Proehl in the win. Trace Christian had his best game of the season at running back with 91 yards on 14 carries to lead the ECU rushing attack to go along with 86 yards from Ahlers and 72 yards on just five carries from Tay Williams.
“It was a great opportunity. It’s honestly just a great team win,” said Christian, “I’m really just coming off an injury and didn’t get to participate much during the spring. I just kept my head down and did what I needed to do for the team and I’m excited for this win.”
“It felt great,” said Williams, “That’s why we practice every day to just show up and do the same thing on game day.”
Afterward, a relieved Mike Houston talked about the feeling of winning to keep the season going in the right direction after starting out just 1-2.
“This past week has been rough. It’s been a long time since I had a weekend like this past weekend. Our coaches, they’ve worked very hard this week. To have a night like tonight is very rewarding and certainly for a night you can take a big deep breath,” Houston told PirateIllustrated.com.”
‘’Mom was here tonight with my wife. It was the first game she’s seen since 2012 and we got a win that night too, so we may have to get her back a little more often. To have her here for the game and see this environment, you always want family around for that kind of stuff so that was special to me also.”
Defensively, ECU held William and Mary to one touchdown which is a credit to the Pirate defense that was led by linebacker Bruce Bivins with nine tackles along with six each from defensive lineman Jalen Price, linebacker Xavier Smith and safety Daniel Charles.
“We just decided that we had to step up and play well because we needed to put our team in a position to win tonight so that’s what we had to do,” Price said afterward, “We went out there and did it. We are told every single day that we have to be more aggressive at the point of attack so that’s how we practice every day at practice and we just transitioned that to the game.”
“I thought our guys played hard. I thought they played against an FBS program that was trying to ground and pound us a little bit. We gave up one touchdown to them and they kicked field goals but it wasn’t enough,” Tribe coach Mike London said, “They won, our hat goes off to them, now we just have to get better and head into our conference play.”
ECU put together 480 yards of total offense and 25 first downs including 270 yards on the ground to just 260 yards of total offense for William & Mary who only managed to collect 16 first downs for the game.
Next week ECU travels to (1-2)Old Dominion who led Virginia by 17 points before falling 28-17 in Charlottesville late Saturday night. Stay tuned to PirateIllustrated.com next week for continuing coverage of Monarch week.