East Carolina 53, Coastal Carolina 29 TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl What Happened, What It All Means

East Carolina beat Coastal Carolina 53-29 to win the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl. What happened, who was the player of the game, and what does it all mean?

East Carolina 53, Coastal Carolina 29 TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl What Happened, Player of the Game, What It All Means

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TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl What Happened

– Holton Ahlers threw five touchdown passes, the offense exploded with 21 straight points as part of a 35-7 run to put the game away by the end of the third quarter. Ahlers spread the wealth around with Isaiah Winstead coming up with two scoring grabs.

– Coastal Carolina was missing a slew of players along with head coach Jamey Chadwell, but it took a 14-10 lead and appeared to be in it until QB Grayson McCall was knocked out of the game in the second quarter. He completed 10-of-12 passes for 67 yards and ran for a touchdown before leaving the game.

Jarrett Guest filled in for McCall and threw two touchdown passes, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with Ahlers and the East Carolina offense. The Pirates outgained the Chanticleers 486 yards to 337.

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TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl Player of the Game

Holton Ahlers, QB East Carolina 
He completed 26-of-38 passes for 300 yards and five scores, and ran seven times for 48 yards and a touchdown.

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TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl Fun Stats

– The two teams combined for 22 penalties or 228 yards. Both were flagged 11 times.

– Coastal Carolina turned it over three times. East Carolina didn’t turn it over.

– Keaton Mitchell ran 22 times for 127 yards and a score for East Carolina.

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl What It All Means

East Carolina was supposed to win this, but it was still impressive how it rose to the moment and came through. There were way too many penalties, and it wasn’t always smooth, but it was a good way to close out a season that got rocky in the finishing kick.

Not only was it the first bowl win under head coach Mike Houston in his four years, it was the first appearance. It was the first bowl game for the program since 2014, the first bowl win since 2013, and just the second bowl win since 2007. Yeah, it was a big deal.

It’s going to be lost in the wash that Coastal Carolina was 6-0 and then 9-1 with big things on the table. The defense went bye-bye, it allowed 45 points or more over the last three games, and … this was a rough beat. The team lost its head coach, a slew of key players, and Grayson McCall was giving it his all despite being in the transfer portal.

Don’t let this performance ruin an otherwise strong season and great run over the last few years. The program won 31 games over the last four seasons and went to three bowl games.

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Story originally appeared on College Football News