East Carolina got noticed when it upset Virginia Tech last week. This week, expect the Pirates to be in the spotlight.
Led by senior quarterback Shane Carden, the Pirates rolled up 789 yards -- yes, 789 -- in hammering North Carolina 70-41. Carden threw for 438 yards and four TDs and also scored on two short runs in leading the romp. The Pirates ran 97 plays and averaged 8.1 yards per pop in winning their fourth in a row against an ACC opponent.
Carden got some help from senior tailback Breon Allen, who rambled for 211 yards and two TDs on just 18 carries.
East Carolina rolled up 603 yards in whipping UNC 55-31 in Chapel Hill last season, and this season's demolition came at home. It was just the Pirates' fourth win in 17 meetings with UNC.
The Pirates scored on their first possession and didn't really slow down, though they did have to punt twice.
It was the fifth 400-yard game of Carden's career and his second in a row; he threw for 427 yards and three TDs in the upset of Virginia Tech last week. He threw for 376 yards and three TDs against the Tar Heels last season. Carden threw 33 touchdown passes last season and already has 11 this season; he also has thrown for 1,469 yards this season.
ECU moved to 3-1 with the win; the only loss came by 10 at South Carolina. The Pirates definitely look to be a leading contender in the AAC and, as such, they will be in the running to earn the non-Power Five conference's guaranteed slot in one of the so-called "playoff bowls." ECU's next four games -- SMU, USF, Connecticut and Temple -- are eminently winnable. The Pirates play AAC contenders Cincinnati and UCF in the final month of the season.