ECU’s 42-10 loss in Annapolis, Maryland last Saturday was exactly what every Pirate fan was dreading would happen.
Navy is now 6-1 all-time against ECU, and has outscored the Pirates 348-186 in those seven games. Here is the ECU-Navy series in total, followed by both team’s respective records in those years.
2019: 42-10 Navy
2016: 66-31 Navy … ECU: 3-9 Navy: 9-5
2015: 45-21 Navy … ECU: 5-7 Navy: 11-2
2012: 56-28 Navy … ECU: 8-5 Navy: 8-5
2011: 38-35 ECU … ECU: 5-7 Navy: 5-7
2010: 76-35 Navy … ECU: 6-7 Navy: 9-4
2006: 28-23 Navy … ECU: 7-6 Navy: 9-4
The one and only season that the two teams played and Navy finished with a sub .500 record, is the only time the Pirates won in this series. Even in ECU’s better seasons they did not play Navy well. So to the Pirates credit, Navy is consistently a good football program and usually more successful on the field.
I wanted to see if it was just an ECU thing or was Navy this successful against better AAC competition since they joined the conference in 2015.
Here’s Navy’s record (conference record in parenthesis) since 2015.
2018: 2-6 (3-10)
2017: 4-4 (7-6)
2016: 7-1 (9-4)
2015: 7-1 (11-2)
In 2017, the Midshipmen played the undefeated UCF team that went on to beat Auburn in a New Year’s Six bowl and only lost 31-21. They also played a Memphis team that finished 10-3 and only lost 30-27.
In 2016, they made it to AAC title game and lost to Temple 34-10. Temple was 10-4 (7-1 in AAC) that year. Navy put up 45 points in a 52-45 loss at USF, who was 11-2 (7-1) that year. They defeated Tulsa 42-40, and Tulsa was 10-3 (6-2) that year. Add on a 46-40 win over Houston and also Memphis 42-28. Houston was 9-4 in 2016, and Memphis was 8-5.
In 2015, Navy beat USF 29-17, who finished 8-5. They again beat Memphis 45-20 who was 9-4 and they lost to a 13-1 Houston team 52-31.
So Navy has consistently played better AAC teams really well and has put up a lot of points against teams that have been better than ECU has been in recent history.
It isn’t a Mike Houston coaching staff fault necessarily. ECU hasn’t been able to beat Navy under Skip Holtz, Ruffin Mcneil, Scottie Montgomery or Houston yet.
The defense giving up a ton of points against Navy is nothing new. Houston is an option coach and has been most of his career, Navy simply runs it to a tee.
One concern is the offense at this point. Besides the FCS matchup Gardner-Webb, the Pirates have managed just 13 points combined against State and Navy.
Ahlers has taken a step back so far this year compared to the end of last season. He was 11-for-23 for 138 yards and an interception against Navy. The Pirates were without starting running back Darius Pinnix, but they managed just 84 yards on the ground as a team. Neither side of the offensive attack has been rolling in their two games against FBS teams.
So as far as football games against Navy, the domination isn’t so much an indictment on ECU’s rebuild so far but just more indicative of Navy’s football program as a whole. However, that doesn’t mean ECU doesn’t have anything to straighten out on the field against William & Mary on Saturday and Old Dominion the week after that.