BIRMINGHAM – Holton Ahlers put an impressive ending to his storied career at East Carolina. Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall wasn’t as fortunate.

Ahlers tied Birmingham Bowl records for passing touchdowns and touchdowns accounted for in a 53-29 victory over the Chanticleers on a chilly Tuesday night at Protective Stadium.

Ahlers threw five touchdown passes and accounted for five scores overall to put his name in the Birmingham Bowl record book. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound fifth-year starter, whose grew up nearby East Carolina, certainly put a fairly tale ending on his ECU career. He was 26-of-38 passing for 300 yards, rushed for 37 yards and grabbed a 14-yard pass on a trick play to set up another score.

It was a sign of things to come on the opening drive when he completed his first five passes. ECU (8-5) had to settle for a field goal but it set the tone for the record-setting night.

“I was locked in,” Ahlers said. “Anytime you have a month to prepare for a game, you better be locked in and play good. We had a good plan to get some quick throws early and get the receivers going. They did a really good job.”

Isaiah Winstead had a pair of touchdown receptions while C.J. Johnson, Jaylen Johnson and Shane Calhoun each had one.

“What a great night for Pirate Nation,” said head coach Mike Houston. “So excited for our players, excited for our fans, excited for our institution. This has been the goal since we got here, to get ECU back to winning and back to get into bowl contention and back to winning bowl games.”

The night didn’t go as well for the heralded McCall, who is a three-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. What is believed to be his final play in a Coastal Carolina uniform ended in the end zone following a 9-yard touchdown run. The play gave Coastal Carolina a 14-10 lead and should have come with a ton of momentum. But, McCall, who is in the transfer portal, fell awkwardly on the touchdown and was hurt on the play. He never returned to the game.

Afterward, Coastal Carolina interim head coach Chad Staggs was uncertain on the extent of the injury.

“I don’t know the injury,” Staggs said. “He’s walking around the locker room and we had a big embrace right before I came in here. I don’t think it was concussion stuff but I don’t know.”

What he does know is it made an impact.

“I think when you got No. 10 in the ballgame, we’re a little bit better,” Staggs said.

In the end, it was too much Ahlers and the Pirates offense for Coastal Carolina (9-4) to match. Running back Keaton Mitchell finished with 22 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown. The Pirates rushed for 172 yards and had 486 yards in total offense.

East Carolina also forced four fumbles and recovered three of them.

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