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ECU’s offense shows signs of life in loss to Bulls

GREENVILLE — On Saturday, East Carolina dropped its first game in the American Athletic Conference, falling 61-31 to No. 18 South Florida, but the matchup showed promise for the Pirates in the games to come.

Even though ECU’s defense couldn’t come up with a stop at any crucial points, the offense did its part to make over half of the game competitive.

“I really thought our guys came out and played with a lot of energy, especially offensively,” head coach Scottie Montgomery said. “We started to execute a lot better on offense.”

Quarterback Thomas Sirk picked up his first rushing touchdown while playing at ECU this past weekend. He also stood out as he was the Pirates’ leading rusher with 18 carries for 87 yards and two scores. In ECU’s first four games in the season, it has tried to establish a run game with not much luck, but Sirk stepped up in an attempt to help his team.

“I think this is an offense with Thomas Sirk leading it, if we continue to grow it with our execution; it can be a very special group moving forward,” Montgomery said. “Which is like I said, we have got to get everybody competing at the highest level every single play.”

In addition to Sirk, Davon Grayson has started to catch attention, as he has been the leading receiver for the past two weeks. He has amassed impressive yardage on relatively few catches. Grayson had five receptions for a total of 101 yards and a touchdown against the Bulls.

ECU fans have started to see a spark in the Pirates’ offense, even if it hasn’t shown in the final scores of the games. In the first three games of the season, ECU was unable to break outside of a 20-point game. In the past two games, however, the Pirates have increased their scoring output and kept games more in reach.

“Offensively, the execution of the plan went pretty well until we got behind” Montgomery said about Saturday’s game. “Then we started to look like a team that wasn’t really us.”

Moving forward, the Pirates will need to continue this upward trend on offense by continuing to run the ball effectively, as well as making plays down field with the veteran receivers on the team. ECU will face its third AAC opponent this Saturday, and with a 1-1 record in the conference there is still a long way to go in the season.

“We’re playing tough teams,” Montgomery said. “There’s no doubt about it. But we’re also starting to step into our conference so we’re going to see teams consistently that we have to play well against, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Consistency will come as Sirk steadily improves as a leader on offense. After starting the season as the backup and recovering from a concussion, he has quickly become the No. 1 component of ECU’s offense.