GREENVILLE — Holton Ahlers threw for four first-half touchdowns and East Carolina held off SMU’s second-half rally for a 52-38 victory on Saturday.
ECU (3-6, 3-5 American) scored a touchdown on its first six possessions of the game and closed the half with a short field goal for a 45-7 lead.
Ahlers was 11-of-17 passing for 158 yards in the first half. Receiver Tyler Snead also had a passing touchdown on a reverse, and Keaton Mitchell rushed for 57 yards and a score.
SMU (7-3, 4-3) battled back in the second half with four touchdowns. Shane Buechele scored on a QB sneak and later connected with Ulysses Bentley IV as the Mustangs scored 17 unanswered points in the third quarter.
But Darius Pinnix Jr. sealed it by capping a five-play, 75-yard drive with a short TD run for a 52-24 lead early in the fourth.
Ahlers finished with 298 yards passing, while Buechele was 35 of 50 for 314 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.