East Carolina will look to extend its winning streak to four games and continue one of its best starts in school history when the Pirates visit two-time defending American Athletic Conference champion Cincinnati on Friday.
The Pirates improved to 6-3 for the first time since 2014 when Andrew Conrad made a 33-yard field goal as time expired in a 27-24 nonconference win at BYU on Oct. 28. The Pirates return to league play, where they are 3-2, against the Bearcats (7-2, 4-1), who are coming off a 20-10 win over Navy on Saturday.
Cincinnati is led by quarterback Ben Bryant, who has completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 2,358 yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. Charles McClelland has rushed for 727 yards and six touchdowns.
Tyler Scott has 42 receptions for a team-high 686 yards and eight scores. Tre Tucker has 45 catches for 530 yards and a score.
East Carolina, which is seeking its best start since finishing the regular season 9-3 in 2013, has dropped four straight games to Cincinnati and 10 of the past 11 meetings.
The Bearcats have won a school-record 31 straight home games and East Carolina hasn’t won there since 2001, when the teams were in Conference USA.
“We’ve got a quick turnaround for a team that is playing really, really well,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said. “I think they’ll have 13 days off before they play us. We’re excited about the opportunity.”
The Pirates are led by Holton Ahlers, who has completed 70.1 percent of his passes for 2,632 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions. Keaton Mitchell has powered the rushing attack with 863 yards and nine touchdowns.
Ahlers’ favorite targets are Isaiah Winstead, who has 64 receptions for 871 yards and three touchdowns, and C.J. Johnson, who has 44 catches for 702 yards and eight touchdowns.
“I think Holton is playing the best ball of his career right now. I think so many of the guys surrounding him are playing the best ball of their careers,” East Carolina coach Mike Houston said. “That’s offensive line, receivers, running backs, tight ends — there are so many guys gelling together.”
–Field Level Media