Greenville, NC (Sports Network) - Shane Carden completed 17-of-25 passes for
191 yards and two touchdowns as the East Carolina Pirates downed the Florida
Atlantic Owls, 31-13, in the Conference USA opener from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Carden, who set school records with 447 yards and 46 completions while
matching a program-best five touchdowns in a season opening win over Old
Dominion, was in complete control of the ECU (2-0, 1-0 C-USA) offense, which
racked up 312 yards despite possessing the ball for just 25:57.
Vintavious Cooper carried 20 times for 95 yards and a score while reeling in
five passes for 49 yards. Davon Grayson and Justin Hardy each hauled in
Jaquez Johnson and Greg Hankerson split reps at quarterback for FAU (0-2, 0-1)
with mixed results. Johnson connected on 9-for-14 for 62 yards and an
interception while Hankerson went 14-for-26 for 116 yards, a touchdown and a
ECU overcame an intentional grounding penalty and a Cooper fumble, which he
recovered for a short gain, and executed an 11-play scoring drive to open the
game. Carden hit 5-of-6 on the series to five different receivers, including
an 18-yard strike to Grayson down the middle for the game's first score.
Mitch Anderson capped successful FAU drives with field goals of 44 and 46
yards in the first half to pull within 7-6, but an 85-yard kickoff return
to the 12-yard line by Lance Ray set up ECU's second touchdown just over a
minute after Anderson's second kick.
Cooper took a handoff on the first play after the return down to the 1-yard
line and after a failed fade and Cooper run, Carden found Hardy on a slant for
the score with 10:35 to play in the half.
Hankerson's first pass on the ensuing drive was intercepted by Maurice Falls,
who returned it 18 yards to the FAU 12-yard line. Cooper ran three times after
that, eventually taking it in from seven yards out for a 21-6 lead.
The Owls failed to take advantage of a Hardy fumble late in the second quarter
despite Johnson and Jenson Stoshak hooking up for a 40-yard completion down to
the 14-yard line on the next play. ECU's defense settled down and forced three
straight plays of negative yards, resulting in an Anderson field goal try from
37 yards out. The kick had the distance but struck the left upright, and the
Pirates led 21-6 at intermission.
After punting the ball away on its first possession of the second half, ECU
got the ball right back when Josh Hawkins intercepted Johnson. The Pirates
failed to gain a yard in three plays but Warren Harvey's 22-yard field goal
was pure, leading to a 24-6 edge.
ECU's final score came late in the third quarter. After Carden ran 20 yards
down to the FAU 4-yard line, Chris Hairston powered up the middle for his
first career rushing score with under a minute to play in the frame.
FAU finished on a strong note, scoring its first touchdown of the season with
1:03 remaining in the game. On 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Hankerson
lofted a fade to William Dukes, who secured the pass in the back of the end
ECU extended its home conference winning streak to six games while FAU has
lost four straight games dating back to last season.
The Sports Network