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ECU Can Even Record With a Win Over Charleston-Southern

Speedy ECU running back Keaton Mitchell leads the Pirates into Saturday's matchup with Charleston-Southern.
Speedy ECU running back Keaton Mitchell leads the Pirates into Saturday's matchup with Charleston-Southern.

East Carolina's thrilling 42-38 comeback victory over Marshall puts the Pirates in a position to even their record at 2-2 with a win this Saturday against Charleston-Southern.

The Pirates came back from 17 points down with eight minutes to play in beating an undefeated Marshall team that looked the part last weekend against ECU.

Holton Ahlers threw for a pair of touchdowns, ran for another and even caught a touchdown pass in the win. Keaton Mitchell delivered with 135 yards rushing and tight end Shane Calhoun had his best game with eight receptions for 114 yards.

ECU also benefitted from five receptions each from Tyler Snead and Audie Omotosho who came into his own in Huntington. That provides a lot of offensive weapons to call upon and makes defending the Pirates even tougher and makes Mike Houston feel a lot better moving forward.

"It's good to come back off of a really impressive showing by our kids and a big road win for our program," said Houston on Tuesday, "It's was the best feeling Saturday night, a great scene in our locker room and incredible time with our players after the game. It made for a really enjoyable plane ride home. The food tastes better today, the sun is brighter and air is a little more fresh. Winning helps a lot of things."

One of the real bright spots was the play of Shane Calhoun at tight end on Saturday. It was the most that ECU has employed that position offensively for quite a while and it gives opponents more to think about moving forward. That entire group at tight end is deep and talented.

"I really like our room there. It's been very hard to build over the last two years, so it's something that's important to our offense. There wasn't anything there positionally when we got here," Houston told PirateIllustrated.com.

"Shane has a chance to be something really special because he can do everything. He hadn't been healthy here early in the season. Last week was probably the first time he's been really at full speed and I think that showed. With some of the matchups we got Saturday night, Donnie (Kirkpatrick) did a really good job of putting us in situations and Holton and Shane executed to where we could take advantage of those matchups."

"I like the other guys in that room too. Zech Byrd had a really good game blocking. Aaron Jarman was in there a good bit and Ryan Jones continues to develop there too so I think we have a really good room there."

Byrd likes where that group is headed overall as the team gets ready for Charleston Southern.

"It felt good because the guys practice hard every day. For us to not come out and do it, it hurts but for everybody to put everything together, it felt pretty good," said Byrd.

"The first game we came up short. The second game, I felt like we played a pretty good game," Byrd told PI, "We should have came out with a win but we lost on a field goal. Then the third game against Marshall we put everything together."

ECU is beginning to get the most out of the quarterback position with Holton Ahlers scoring points three different ways on Saturday after a slow start in the first two games.

"Obviously you saw a subpar performance against South Carolina. He'll tell you that and we saw a really good performance the other night," said Houston, "I watch film every day multiple hours, watch practice every day and spend a lot of time evaluating every piece of this program so I promise you we're going to put the guys out there who give us the best chance to be successful in every position. It's an open competition across the board, every day, every week. Every day is competition."

Charleston Southern enters Saturday's matchup with a 1-1 record with a 38-21 win over The Citadel and a 41-14 loss last week at the hands of 2-1 Monmouth.

Jack Chambers completed 18-36 for 167 yards but failed to deliver a touchdown through the air. He did however score the team's only two touchdowns on the ground in the loss along with 68 yards rushing. Running back J.D. Moore added 79 yards rushing.

The Buccaneers got decent production from three receivers in Demetrius Jones who made six catches for 63 yards along with 66 yards on three receptions from Geoffrey Wall and five catches from Jordan Curtis for 54 yards so the Pirates will have to play a proficient contest on Saturday to keep the positive momentum going.

Defensively, Myles Berry was playing with a heavy heart after the passing of his father last week but he brought his best and came away with the game ball as a result.

"It was a lot. I definitely had to compartmentalize everything to be totally focused on the game. It was very special to get the game ball," said Berry, "I didn't know he was going to do that so I was definitely surprised. Special is the word I keep using because it was one of the toughest weeks of my life, just being able to get the win, get it with my teammates and be awarded the game ball for my dad and for the win it was just great to me."

"We are mature. This is a very veteran team. We have some young guys who are playing very big but at the end of the game we have a lot of older guys also," Berry told PirateIllustrated.com, "Coming off that heartbreaker loss to South Carolina, we know what we need to do and we know what we need to fix and we are going to get it done so that's kind of how we're operating as a unit and a team. Knowing what we have to do, being focused and getting the job done."

Safety D.J. Ford is emerging a a leader in the Pirate defensive secondary and he talked about the overall confidence level of the team heading into Saturday's game.

"I think our confidence level has been steadily been increasing since the beginning of the season. After the App. State game obviously it didn't turn out the way we liked," Ford told PirateIllustrated.com, "After the South Carolina game the guys were laser focused and determined to get the W. We had worked extremely hard and fell short, but guys were not deterred by that. All of our focus was on Marshall so for us to come out and win that game was extremely big and important for us moving forward. Now it's on to the next game."

Game time is set for 6 o'clock this Saturday night for East Carolina vs Charleston Southern on ESPN+. Stay tuned for more as game week progresses here on PirateIllustrated.com.

MIKE HOUSTON PRESS CONFERENCE

PI AUDIO: Safety D.J. FORD

PI AUDIO: Tight end ZECH BYRD

PI AUDIO: Linebacker MYLES BERRY