Navy Tops ECU

In the first conference game of the season, ECU lost 45-21 to Navy in Annapolis.

In its first conference game in school history, Navy began their quest for a league title scoring touchdowns on its first four drives. Navy quarterback Kennan Reynolds scored three of those four touchdowns and would end the game with an American Athletic Conference record five rushing touchdowns.

East Carolina (1-2 0-1 AAC) did not have the same success as Navy rushing the ball. Rushing for negative 13 yards against Florida, ECU continued its struggles only rushing for 80 yards against Navy. Hairston lead the team with 38 yards on 10 carries and as a team finished with a 3.8 yards per carry average.

Navy (2-0 1-0 AAC) on the other hand continued their success on the ground against the Pirates defense. Reynolds and Swain both broke the century mark for the Midshipmen. Reynolds finished with 142 yards on 24 carries and Swain carried the ball 29 times with 123 yards. Reynolds also scored five rushing touchdowns.

“You can tell he’s been there,” said Head Coach Ruffin McNeill. “He’s tough, and takes some big hits. But he’s a fine leader of his team. I see his team look up to him.”

Blake Kemp had another three touchdown performance and was able to lead ECU on a scoring drive at the end of the first half to make it a two possession game. But the Midshipmen offense scored frequently, while the Pirates only managed to score one touchdown in the second half. Kemp finished the game with 325 yards but felt the offense took a step backwards.

“Honestly, I think it’s a step back,” said Kemp. “I’m embarrassed. We came in and we wanted to score a lot more than we did, but we’ll get it straight.”

Isaiah Jones and Bryce Williams picked up where they left off in Florida. Jones had another 100 yard performance, racking up 130 yards on 10 receptions. Williams only had 5 receptions and 47 yards, but found the end zone twice.

In the end, the defensive woes would cost the Pirates. Navy had 456 yards of total offense and 415 came on the ground. Reynolds only threw the ball seven times, completing four of them for 41 yards.

The Pirates also did not capitalize on its fourth down opportunities. Only converting one of three, fourth downs, the most costly turnover on downs came in the third quarter. Navy only up 28-14 at the time, ECU marched down the field to the Midshipmen 41, but were faced with a fourth and one. On the fourth down play Kemp would stand alone behind the center and tried to rush for the first down, unsuccessfully.

“It was a signal mix-up,” said Kemp. “It’s on me. I should have called the play differently.”

ECU committed two turnovers against the Midshipmen, both from Kemp. One came off an interception and the other was a fumble, which both occurred in the second half. McNeill noted that they did not play to the team’s expectations and personal expectations, but have to move on.

“We got to get ready to go next week,” said McNeill. “We’re facing a great defensive play-caller in Bud Foster and we got to be ready. We have to be a resilient bunch again. No time to try to spin our wheels.”

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