For the second time in four years, Appalachian State’s football team will travel to Greenville, N.C., to try and redeem themselves against the East Carolina Pirates.Trailing 29-7 starting the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers fought back only to lose 29-27.
According to ESPN, the Pirates scored on their first three drives before the Mountaineers earned a first down. On the Mountaineers last drive, Tavaris Cadet got sacked and the fourth-down pass to Coco Hillary fell incomplete and gave the Pirates the win.The Mountaineers lead the series 19-11 dating back to 1932, according to ecu.edu.
How ASU can winThe defense is returning eight starters this year, including four all americans, and looks to be the backbone of the team’s success this year.Despite several key losses to the offense this year, they should be able to get rolling against a Pirate’s defense that allowed over 32 points per game last year. A lot is riding on the success of Quarterback Jamal Jackson, coming off a season that saw him break five App State records; including passing for over 200 yards in seven straight games to start his collegiate career.If Jackson can get off to a strong start and the defense can show up, they could win.
How ECU can winThe Pirates are no stranger to a strong passing attack finishing the season ranked 20th, but have a first time starter in Quarterback Rio Jackson taking over the offense this season.However ECU’s rushing game ranked 105th only rushing 109.1 yards per game.With the return of five starters on offense from last season, if ECU can keep the Mountaineers on their toes by succeeding early in the rushing game and implementing the play-action pass, ECU will run away with this game.
The Bottom LineNeither the Mountaineers nor the Pirates had promising seasons last year, and both teams would like to start this season strong. Being the two premier football teams in N.C., a lot of bragging rights will be on the line Saturday.With the experience, new players and coaches that the Mountaineers are presenting this season, it won’t take a miracle to beat the Pirates. The Mountaineers can score early, but it will be up to the defense to hold off the Pirates.
Story: JAMES ASHLEY, Sports Editor and JORDAN DAVIS, Intern Sports Reporter