Pirates Bounce Back in Hattiesburg

After a game in which they were completely outmatched and outplayed, ECU opened Conference USA play with a 24-14 win against their bitter rivals, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. It was a real team-win as the Pirates got sizeable contributions on all three sides of the football.

The big story going into the game was Shane Carden making his first career start at quarterback for the Pirates. After a dismal first half that saw the offense punt on their first six possessions, Carden impressed, tossing a 54 yard touchdown to Justin Hardy and scoring with his feet as well on an 8 yard touchdown scamper. Carden finished 13-27 for 171 yards passing while Hardy had five grabs for 92 yards and the touchdown.

Even more impressive than the offense was the play of the defense, who in the first half, kept ECU within striking distance when the offense was stagnant. The Pirates defense forced turnovers on each of Southern Miss' first four drives of the second half, including a fumble return for a touchdown by redshirt-freshman Montese Overton. On top of that, the unit tallied five sacks on Saturday and seemed to be in the Golden Eagles backfield all game long.

Special teams turned out to play a huge role in the Pirate win too. ECU punter Trent Tignor pinned Southern Miss inside its own five yard line twice and averaged just over 42 yards per punt. More importantly, he did a good job of keeping the ball out of the hands of game-breaking wide receiver and return-man Tracy Lampley. Also, Warren Harvey kicked a 54 yard field goal to get the Pirates onto the board going into halftime.

ECU (2-1, 1-0) will close their three game road trip next week in Chapel Hill, as they will face a Tar Heel team that is coming off a 39-34 loss against No. 19 ranked Louisville. UNC (1-2, 0-1) trailed 29-0 at one point in the game but were just unable to complete their miraculous comeback. Southern Miss (1-2, 0-1) will go on the road to face Western Kentucky next weekend.

Other Notes:

-Joshua Hawkins had his first career interception in the third quarter Saturday.

-Vintavious Cooper carried the ball 13 times for 51 yards rushing.

-Montese Overton recorded 10 tackles to lead the Pirates in that category

Inside ECU Sports Top Stories