East Carolina will hold Senior Day on Saturday, but wide receiver Quay Johnson will not be on the field for his final home game.
The 5-10, 184-pound senior from Knightdale suffered a knee injury in the second quarter of Saturday’s 31-24 overtime loss to Tulane. ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery on Monday said Johnson would miss the remainder of the season.
“There’s no way we will see him,” Montgomery said. “Right now I am more concerned with how I think Quay can continue to play football. I am more concerned with him being able to get in training form and have a chance to continue to play. But unfortunately the guy for us — I just bragged about him a couple of weeks ago — he never misses practice, never misses games, and because of that we felt like he was going to have an end to a great season.”
Johnson emerged as one of the Pirates’ most dependable receivers this year and was coming off career highs of 14 catches and 115 receiving yards in a loss at Houston. He had three receptions for 19 yards against Tulane on Saturday, including a 20-yard catch to the 7-yard line on the Pirates’ first scoring drive.
His final reception resulted in a 1-yard loss two plays before Hussein Howe ran 25 yards to tie it at 14-14.
“Losing Quay was a major, major blow for us, especially in the red zone,” Montgomery said. “Our red zone package had been put together really for our most reliable player, which has been Quay the whole time, and unfortunately he went down.
“We did a lot of things in the game where we tried to get him involved in the game plan with some matchups, and once we lost him we had other people go in his spot and make some plays in that game plan,” Montgomery said. “But there were some critical inside-of-the-10-yard plays that we practiced and got game ready, even a couple of little tricks that we had for him in the game, that when he went down it hurt us.”
Johnson came up with at least one reception in 34 of his 44 games at ECU. He ranked second on the team in receptions this year with 47 and third in reception yards with 464. For his career, Johnson compiled 130 receptions, which ranks 10th all-time among ECU receivers, 1,218 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He had 105 catches for 1,027 yards last two years.
Deondre Farrier stepped in for Johnson and came up with three catches for 34 yards, including a 17-yarder in the back corner of the end zone to pull the Pirates even at 24-24 with just 36 seconds left in regulation. Montgomery said ECU will need the 6-1, 185-pound sophomore to be productive in the final two games with Johnson out.
“We are going to need him to step up even more than he did last week,” Montgomery said. “He made some plays for us, but there were also some critical errors at that position when Quay was out. There was one near the goal line, one in overtime. The thing that you forget about with Quay is that you don’t talk about him as much, but he is so reliable that the small things they automatically get done, and we missed a few small things in the overtime and also in the third quarter. We had some small errors that cost us dearly.”
Another senior receiver, Jimmy Williams, also is hobbling but came in Saturday to make a sensational diving catch on fourth down to keep an 89-yard drive alive that eventually tied the game late in regulation.
“He can barely run; he can barely move,” Montgomery said. “Making that catch in that situation, if we win the ballgame I would have said that was the biggest play of the year, by far. He literally went out there and played when he could barely warm up, barely move through warm-ups.”
Williams has 28 catches for 376 yards and one touchdown this season. For his career, he has 115 receptions for 1,650 yards and 12 touchdowns, which ranks 10th in school history.
He had a career-best season as a junior with 45 catches for 818 yards and eight touchdowns.
He has at least one catch in 35 of 38 career games.