East Carolina came out against NC State hoping it would not be like last season’s demolishing. The score was different, but the game was more of the same. NC State dominated East Carolina in the trenches that led to a 34-6 beatdown of the Pirates.
ECU looked sharp on the first drive, making plays led by Holton Ahlers completing his first seven passes. Unfortunately, Ahlers made a run for the goal line on first-and-goal from the 9 and fumbled the ball into the end zone, which was recovered by Jarius Morehead of the Wolfpack.
Redshirt sophomore Matthew McKay never looked overwhelmed in his first career start. The young quarterback completed 25-of-27 for 308 yards. McKay scrambled on a 4-yard keeper to take a 17-3 into the break.
Ahlers finished with 168 yards passing in their first game under new head coach Mike Houston. The Pirates never got near the end zone until late in the fourth quarter when the game was a forgone conclusion.
If the Pirates were going to have any chance of competing against the Wolfpack, it was to be able to handle their own in the trenches. There was none of that as the Wolfpack stymied the ground attack of the Pirates to an average of 1.4 yards a carry (29 times for 41 yards), leaving Ahlers to do everything on his own. Another moment was where a penalty wiped out Tyler Snead’s 93-yard kickoff return.
The Pirates did not help themselves in any way to be able to compete and the Wolfpack took advantage of that with a dominant performance.
Going back to the meeting last year, NC State has outscored ECU by 83 points and outgained by 787 yards. As well as ECU to a goose-egg in the touchdown column.
ECU has to go back to the drawing board this week and understand they need to get better in every phase of the game. The Pirates host Gardner-Webb in their first home game under Houston next Saturday.
As for the Wolfpack, they will be hosting Western Carolina next Saturday.