East Carolina senior quarterback Shane Carden threw for 410 yards and four TDs Saturday, and became the school's leading career passer in the process.
Carden and the Pirates (4-1), who have beaten ACC teams North Carolina and Virginia Tech, whipped hapless SMU 45-24. He finished 31-of-41, and all four of his TD passes came in the first half, which ended with the Pirates leading 28-7.
Carden (6-foot-2, 221 pounds) now has 9,234 career passing yards; the previous record-holder was David Garrard (9,029), who played nine seasons in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Carden already held the school record for career TD passes and now has 71.
In late September, NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks wrote that Carden "is definitely piquing the interest of scouts looking for a developmental passer to build around."
Carden has thrown for 1,879 yards, 15 TDs and three interceptions this season; he also is completing 64.8 percent of his passes.
Senior Justin Hardy (6-0, 188), an NFL prospect in his own right, had eight receptions for 120 yards and three TDs. He has 37 receptions this season and 307 in his career; the NCAA career record for receptions is 349 by former Oklahoma star Ryan Broyles, who now plays for the Detroit Lions.
ECU's victory came in the school's first-ever AAC game; they look to be the best team in the league, which means they have a good shot at the non-Power Five conferences' "automatic bid" to one of the so-called "playoff bowls." ECU's main competition would seem to be Conference USA favorite Marshall at this point.
While SMU dropped to 0-5 with the loss, the Mustangs' offense finally showed some signs of life. The Mustangs had scored just 12 points in their first four games.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.