App State-ECU announce four game football series


App State and East Carolina have officially renewed their rivalry. Photo courtesy: App State Athletics

Tyler Hotz

After years of fans requesting it, Appalachian State and East Carolina officially announced that the two schools will renew their east-west football rivalry at a January 17 press conference.

Starting on Sept. 4, 2021, the schools will begin a four game series with the first played at Bank of America Stadium. The series will then take a three year hiatus until 2024, where the final three games will be played in consecutive seasons.

East Carolina will host the Mountaineers in 2024 and 2026 in Greenville, and App State will host the Pirates in 2025 in Boone. All four games are slated for September in their respective seasons.

Because this series has never been played on such a stage, many pieces had to fall into place, which left App State athletics director Doug Gillin thanking many different people and organizations. In the end, Will Webb of the Charlotte Sports Foundation, East Carolina athletics director Jeff Compher and Bank of America Stadium were all a major part of finalizing the series.

“The chance for App State to host a home game in an NFL Stadium, where our largest alumni base is and against a program like ECU is a great opportunity for our student athletes, alumni and fans,” Gillin said.

App State has never played in a game at Bank of America Stadium, which is home to the Carolina Panthers. The only game the Mountaineers have played in an NFL stadium was at the Georgia Dome in 2015.

“The game is an opportunity for App to play another in-state opponent, generate revenue and provide a great opportunity for student athletes, fans, and alumni, while still playing our traditional six-game home schedule at Kidd Brewer Stadium,” Gillin said.

App State has not played a game in Charlotte since 1971, and while the Mountaineers are scheduled to play at UNC Charlotte in 2018, a future game at Bank of America Stadium will be more than just an opportunity for fans to travel.

“All of our football coaches are out recruiting right now, so it is a really good quick story that they can tell recruits,” Gillin said. “If you redshirt your freshman year, then you will get open up on Labor Day weekend here [at Bank of America Stadium] your senior year.”

The 2021 schedule also features a game at Miami, which will complete the series that the Mountaineers opened at home this past season. In addition, App State is slated to host old rivals Marshall and Elon, who were both at one time important conference opponents.

Gillin and ECU athletics director Jeff Compher have been discussing renewing the series since Gillin took the helm in 2014. The only regret is not having the series begin sooner.

“One of my first questions to Jeff was that the fan bases wanted us to play each other again,” Gillin said. “Due to the scheduling parameters, it didn’t allow us to play in 2021 but Jeff’s initial reaction was that it absolutely makes sense.”

The last time App State met the Pirates on the football field was in 2012, where East Carolina cruised to a 35-13 victory. App State leads the series 19-12, but the Pirates have won the previous six meetings.

App State and East Carolina played every year from 1948-62 and 1972-79.

With the teams only playing two times since 1979, a renewed rivalry pitting two teams from opposite sides of the state will help build more series like this for decades to follow.

“From my perspective, I don’t believe that there has ever been an issue between ECU and Appalachian,” Compher said. “We have always enjoyed a good relationship, and I am hoping that we can continue that and that this serves an example for everybody in our state that we can play each other and support each other and our programs.”

Story By: Tyler Hotz, Sports Reporter