ECU-Marshall football opener moved back to Sept. 12

The commemorative game between the Pirates and Thundering Herd was originally scheduled to be played on Aug. 29

Junior quarterback Holton Ahlers will lead a potent ECU offense in 2020 (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

East Carolina and Marshall were originally scheduled to play the first college football game of the 2020 season on Aug. 29 to commemorate to the 50th anniversary of the tragic plane crash that killed the entire Thundering Herd team on the way home from a game against the Pirates in Greenville.

The teams will still open their seasons with the tribute game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. But because of the coronavirus pandemic that has forced cancellations and schedule changes throughout the sports world, it has been moved back three weeks until Sept. 12.

ECU and Marshall made the announcement Friday afternoon.

The new date was made possible after both teams had previously contracted games canceled. The Pirates were set to play at South Carolina, while the Thundering Herd lost a home game against Pittsburgh after both the SEC and ACC amended their schedules.

“I appreciate Mike Hamrick and Marshall for working with us to move the game,” ECU athletics director Jon Gilbert said of his Marshall counterpart, who previously served as the Pirates’ AD. “We continue to work with university, local and state health officials for guidance on fans in attendance. We will communicate with Pirate Nation in a timely manner when more information becomes available.”

Kickoff time and television broadcast information have not yet been announced. According to the release announcing the date change, more schedule adjustments are upcoming.

ECU isn’t the only state school shuffling its schedule because of the ongoing pandemic.

Appalachian State filled two of the four openings on its 2020 nonconference slate earlier this week by adding games against Charlotte on Sept. 12 and Campbell on Sept. 26.

“We are pleased to add another home game against an in-state school to the 2020 schedule,” Mountaineers AD  Doug Gillin said in a release. “We continue to follow guidance from health officials, university leadership and the Sun Belt Conference to provide the safest environment for the return of sports on our campus.

“We hope to safely welcome App State students, season ticket holders and visiting teams to Kidd Brewer Stadium this fall, following the latest public health protocols.”