ECU Pirates blow by TigersPublished 10:38pm Saturday, October 13, 2012
GREENVILLE — The game started with an eerily familiar feeling but ended with pure bliss for East Carolina as it once again jumped out to a two-touchdown lead after its first two possessions of the contest on Saturday, but this time there would be no let down.
Unlike last week’s loss to Central Florida, the Pirates never had to worry about a counterpunch as they continued to assault Memphis for four straight quarters en route to a 41-7 victory.
East Carolina sophomore quarterback Shane Carden had the best outing of his young career as he completed 25 of his 33 pass attempts for career-highs in passing yards and touchdown tosses with 308 and five, respectively.
Carden started out on fire as he completed his first nine passes of the game and delivered a 67-yard scoring strike to Justin Hardy on the team’s first drive, and a 39-yard TD pass to Justin Jones on their second to put the Pirates up 14-0 at the 7:30 mark in the first quarter.
The last time ECU (4-3, 3-1 Conference USA) took the field a similar scenario unfolded as the Pirates jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the Knights after their first two possessions of the game, but lost all momentum when they yielded a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It was a blow that the Pirates would never recovered from, but on Saturday they never let up and strung together their most impressive victory of the season.
“We started playing fast last week at Central Florida, but (Saturday) we wanted to play fast, sustain it and finish it,” ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill said. “Last week it was the same thing, the same experience. But (Saturday) it was ‘OK, here it is again: teaching time.’”
On Saturday the Pirates weren’t the only ones learning lessons as their wide receiver tandem of Hardy and Jones schooled the Tigers’ secondary all game long as they combined for 217 receiving yards and five TDs.
Hardy, the team’s speedy sophomore grabbed a team-high six passes for a game-high 137 yards and two TDs, while Jones hauled in five Carden passes for 80 yards and three scores.
The Pirates’ defense smothered a lifeless Memphis attack and narrowly missed pitching its first shutout since Sept. 2, 2000 when ECU beat Duke 35-0.
The Tigers (1-5, 1-1) rushed for 115 yards on 43 carries (2.7 ypc), while QB Jacob Karam completed 14 passes for 153 yards.
After being blanked for three quarters, Memphis finally got on the board midway through the fourth quarter when it pieced together a nine-play drive that covered 76 yards and ended with a three-yard TD run by Jai Steib.
After taking a 14-0 lead, ECU added Warren Harvey field goals of 37 and 45 yards before Hardy recorded his second score of the game on an 11-yard reception in the third quarter.
Jones followed with back-to-back scores to push ECU’s lead to 41-0 before Steib was able to scurry into the end zone to break the shutout with 8:59 remaining in the game.