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(Thursday, September 5th)
Final Score: East Carolina 31, Florida Atlantic 13
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 touchdown receptions.
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 pick.
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 early in the second period 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 with 46 seconds remaining 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.
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 zone.
ECU extended its home conference winning streak to six games while FAU has lost four straight games dating back to last season.
09/06 00:27:41 ET