One Heel of a winPublished 10:37pm Saturday, September 28, 2013
One game after their worst offense performance of the season the Pirates offense answered with their best output of the year as it racked up seven touchdowns to top the Tar Heels 55-31 on Saturday.
East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden was spectacular, accounting for six of the Pirates (3-1, Conference USA) scores as he threw for three touchdown passes and ran for three more to lead ECU to its first victory in Chapel Hill since 1975.
“This was an awesome win. This one was for Pirate Nation,” Carden said after the game.
It was an awesome win, as Carden connected on 32 of his 47 pass attempts for 376 yards, while senior running back Vintavious Cooper rushed for a game-high 186 yards and caught eight passes for a team-high 70 yards to down North Carolina (1-3, ACC).
“It’s a big win, but we needed a big win,” East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill said. “… To get the win was big. Having played this game, I’ve been asked about (playing UNC) quite a bit. It’s special.”
East Carolina’s offense was special from the opening drive as it raced 73 yards down the field on its first possession and scored when Carden hit Justin Hardy on a 9-yard TD pass.
The Pirates went up 14-0 when a Chip Thompson interception turned into a 54-yard drive that resulted in a 17-yard TD pass to Lance Ray.
It was during that drive that former Washington star Jimmy Williams caught his first pass as a Pirate.
“I was really excited. My adrenaline was pumping,” said Williams, a freshman who had his redshirt pulled late in the week. “I didn’t even know what to do after I caught the ball. I just got up and threw back to the referee. I was so excited.”
Williams finished the game with two catches for 28 yards.
For the second week in a row, the Pirates defense, minus star ILB Jeremy Grove (shoulder) and their best defensive lineman, Terry Williams, who was suspended for violating team rules, came up big against the run and held the Tar Heels to a total of 67 rushing yards.
After throwing for two TDs in the first, Carden rushed for two in the second quarter.
The first one came on a read-option run from the one-yard line to put ECU up 21-3, while his second was a three-yard dash that raised the Pirates advantage to 28-10.
“I was proud of Shane,” McNeill said. “He’s self-motivated and easy to coach. I knew he would come back and have a good week.”
In the third quarter both teams went point-for-point as ECU entered the fourth leading 34-24.
Carden rushed for his third touchdown of the game on a 1-yard play-action bootleg to his left, Chris Hairston slashed his way across the goal line on ECU’s previous possession.
The Tar Heels struck back behind star QB Bryn Renner, who connected with Bug Howard for a touchdown pass before finding Nic Platt for a 23-yard score near the end of the third.
Renner ended the afternoon going 28 for 46 for 366 yards, three TD passes and one interception.
In the fourth, the Pirates kicked two field goals, which where sandwiched by a Quinshad Davis 56-yard yard TD reception.
After Warren Harvey’s second field goal of the quarter, ECU held a 48-31 lead.
The Pirates would finish off the game in style as Carden aired out a 48-yard touchdown pass to Ray on a fourth-and-1 to complete the scoring.