ECU and Navy both came in fresh off of three-win win seasons and trying to turn things around in their American Athletic Conference opener.
Instead, the seventh meeting in the ECU-Navy history went about the same as all the others. Navy dominated en route to a 42-10 win. The Pirates fall to 0-1 in AAC play and 1-2 overall, while Navy moves to 2-0 and 1-0 in the conference.
Navy is now 6-1 all-time against ECU and the Pirates have dropped nine straight road games.
“Obviously we made a lot of mistakes. That being said it’s my responsibility to ensure the team is prepared, so it’s my responsibility to get it fixed,” ECU head coach Mike Houston told reporters after the game.
ECU had absolutely no answers on either side of the ball. Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry dominated in particular, accounting for all six Midshipmen touchdowns. Perry rushed 24 times for 156 yards and four touchdowns and went 5-for-7 passing for 151 yards and two more scores.
Two words, Malcolm Perry. @NavyFB
4 rushing TDs ✅
2 passing TDs ✅
307 total yards ✅
— American Football (@American_FB) September 14, 2019
ECU couldn’t figure out the triple-option attack of Navy. They continually took away the pitch and handoff options, and Perry was more than successful keeping it himself. Perry ran for more yards than ECU as a team and out-threw ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers on 17 fewer pass attempts.
When ECU over-committed to the run, Navy burnt them through the air. Perry had several wide-open receivers on play-action plays. It could have been worse as he missed a few of those throws early on.
Malcolm Perry to CJ Williams for 80-yards!
6th total TOUCHDOWN for Malcolm Perry 😱 pic.twitter.com/BzVfX6gDaP
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) September 14, 2019
ECU also had no answers for Navy’s defense either. Ahlers struggled for the third straight game, throwing another interception and for no scores. He was eventually replaced by Reid Herring late in the game.
With starting running back Darius Pinnix a late scratch due to injury, the Pirates running game managed just 84 yards with Hussein Howe and Demetrius Mauney taking his carries. Ahlers was the leading rusher and ran for the lone score of the game. A Jake Verity field goal provided the rest of the points.
“He will be back at some point and we’ll see when, but we have other players ready to go,” Houston told reporters postgame about Pinnix.
Penalties held back the Pirates against Navy. They had two false start penalties on their first drive alone, a three-and-out. They had a fourth-down conversion driving in Navy territory but it was called back because of holding, and they had to punt. They scored a rushing touchdown that was called back because of illegal formation, and they settled for a field goal.
Navy got off to a hot start right away, as after ECU’s opening three-and-out drive, ECU Pinter Jon Young left Navy with great field position, and they quickly scored.
“We knew the first five minutes were going to be crucial, especially versus an offense like that,” Ahlers told reporters after the game.
Historically, that’s all it takes under head coach Ken Niumatalolo as Navy is now 13-1 when scoring a TD on their first drive in his tenure. Even further, they are now 58-12 when scoring first under Niumatalolo.
In all, Navy out-gained ECU 468-222 and ran for 315 yards.
“That is as complete of a football game as we have played in some time,” Niumatalolo told reporters after the game.
ECU safety Davondre Robinson had a scary moment late in the game, needing to be taken off of the field by a stretcher. The Navy players and crowd were both supportive and respectful of ECU. Navy players remained on the field with ECU players while the ECU alma mater was played.
Our thoughts are with @ECUPiratesFB No. 13 Davondre Robinson! Wishing him a speedy recovery!
— Navy Football (@NavyFB) September 14, 2019
Thankfully, Houston told reporters postgame that Robinson had full mobility in his arms and legs.
Next up, the Pirates look to get back to .500 next week when they host William & Mary Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. while Navy gets another bye week before heading to Memphis for their next AAC tilt.
Photo courtesy of ecupirates.com