ECU Trounces Coastal Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl
Two regional rivals entered Protective Stadium Tuesday with a chance to finish their season off on a high note - a victory in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl.
For Coastal Carolina, the game was a chance to finish strong in a disappointing season and send Grayson McCall out with a victory as the star quarterback has entered the transfer portal after three seasons in Conway.
For East Carolina, the game presented an opportunity to play spoiler to that perfect ending for McCall and the Chanticleers and they did just that.
The Pirates absolutely dismembered the Chanticleers in every facet of the game with the final score being 53-29.
Coastal found itself down 10-7 mid-way through the second quarter after a mostly competitive first 15 minutes of play. Then, McCall showed off some of his magic and dove over two Pirate defenders into the end zone to give his team the lead.
However, the score would prove to be pyrrhic as McCall got flipped upside down and landed on his head, never to return to the game.
From that point on, the game was extremely lopsided. In relief of McCall, Jarrett Guest was only able to muster six completions for 136 yards and a touchdown while also taking a handful of key sacks and a fumble.
The run game got going in spurts, but couldn't stay consistent enough to keep the Chanticleers in the fight.
Defensively, things were much worse for Coastal. It seemed at times as if they couldn't stop a nosebleed, and the records the Pirate offense set certainly back that up. East Carolina set a Birmingham Bowl record for points scored and senior quarterback Holton Ahlers set the record for touchdown passes with five and total touchdowns with six. For his efforts, Ahlers was voted the MVP of the game.
Ahlers passed for 300 yards and 5 touchdowns on 26 attempts. Mitchell Keaton gave ECU 127 yards and another touchdown on the ground. All told, the Pirate offense amassed 476 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns.
The Pirate defense held CCU to 336 yards and forced three turnovers while only allowing 29 points. Eight of those points came after the game was properly out of hand.
Coastal has a massive reset and rebuild coming. Jamie Chadwell has taken the head coaching job at Liberty and it is unknown how many assistants will be retained by incoming coach Tim Beck. Additionally, star passer McCall is in the transfer portal despite playing this last game with his team of three years. It will likely be a long road back to relevance for the Chanticleers.
ECU, on the other hand, gets to celebrate its first bowl victory since 2013.