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East Carolina Pirates vs Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs Game Preview

Pirates look to get season on track against FCS foe

NCAA Football: East Carolina at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday, September 7

Game Time: 6:00pm ET

Records: ECU 0-1 (0-0 AAC), GWU 0-1 (0-0 Big South)

Line: ECU -29.5; O/U 59.5

Venue: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC


The Mike Houston era did not get off to the start they would have hoped after a 34-6 defeat at NC State. Many did not think they would win but ECU looked outmatched from the get go and could not find any rhythm on the offensive side of the ball especially in the running game.

The Pirates look to change that this week with a match-up against an FCS squad in Gardner-Webb.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Why East Carolina Will Win

ECU was outmatched physically against NC State’s stout defense which never allowed them to get the run game going. Holton Ahlers had to carry the offense last week which did not allow for a balanced offense. The offensive line needs to control the line of scrimmage to create running lanes for Darius Pinnix Jr.

Gardner-Webb struggled defensively last week, allowing 49 points to Charlotte in their season opener last Thursday. The Bulldogs gave up over 500 yards on defense (322 of it on the ground) which creates an opportunity for the Pirates to get their offense going.

The Pirates will need to force the issue and be able to understand they will be able to put up yards. The Pirates should look to start fast to not allow the Bulldogs any hope of winning.

Gardner-Webb v Wake Forest Photo by Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images

Why Gardner-Webb Will Win

The Bulldogs struggled mightily on defense but the offense did not provide much help either. The Bulldogs did create plays however in their defeat. The defense forced three turnovers which gave them a couple short fields creating points, two of the interceptions were by senior defensive back Devin Mines.

The Bulldogs scored on special teams with a 99 yard kickoff return by freshman wide receiver Devron Harper. The Bulldogs will need to win the turnover battle and on special teams in order to hang around. Once the fourth quarter hits and its tight, all the pressure goes to ECU.

Players to Watch


QB: Holton Ahlers

RB: Darius Pinnix Jr.

DL: Kendall Futrell

LB: Xavier Smith


WR: Devron Harper

RB: Jayln Cagle

DB: Cameron McCutcheon

DB: Devin Mines


I don’t think this is a difficult decision what so ever, the Pirates should dominate the Bulldogs and secure their first win of the 2019 season.

ECU will be able to get the running game open which allows Ahlers to play within himself. The Pirates will have a big game offensively against a Bulldog defense that gives up a lot of yards. The Pirates will get off to a quick start and win easily.

East Carolina 41, Gardner Webb 13