Ahlers leads East Carolina past Gardner-Webb 48-9

The sophomore quarterback accounted for three touchdowns in the Pirates' first win of the season

Holton Ahlers threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns in last week's win against South Florida (Gerry Broome / AP Photo)

GREENVILLE — Holton Ahlers threw for a touchdown and ran for two more as East Carolina rolled past Gardner-Webb 48-9 on Saturday to give new coach Mike Houston his first win with the Pirates.

ECU (1-1) scored on its first drive, a 7-yard Ahlers run, and on the next two as well. Jake Verity’s 24-yard field goal and a short TD run by Darius Pinnix Jr. made for a quick 17-0 lead with 1:09 to go in the first quarter.

A Gardner-Webb touchdown early in the second quarter was answered by a 13-yard scoring run by Pinnix and another keeper by Ahlers to push the East Carolina lead to 31-7 at halftime.

Gerard Stringer picked off Gardner-Webb’s Jordan Smith on the fourth play of the second half and returned it 41 yards. Two plays later, Ahlers threw a 20-yard scoring strike to Blake Proehl for a 38-7 advantage with 12:37 left in the third.

Gardner-Webb picked up a safety midway through the third quarter by dropping Pinnix in his own end zone after the team’s punt had East Carolina starting off on its goal line.
Smith threw for 147 yards for the Runnin’ Bulldogs (0-2).