Pirates Put Away Pack, 21-16

RALEIGH, N.C. -- On an emotional Senior Night that could prove to be a memorable game for both programs, East Carolina made the big plays to defeat NC State 21-16.

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    So much for slow starts, as NC State came out and jumped on East Carolina right away.

    After forcing the Pirates to punt on its first possession, NC State took over at the 50-yard line and marched down the field, the big play coming on a Daniel Evans pass to Darrell Blackman that totaled 41 yards. A play later Toney Baker scored from the 2, and the Wolfpack led 7-0 just five minutes into the contest. The touchdown was NC State's first in the opening quarter since the Appalachian State game.

    East Carolina would put points on the board early in the second quarter, as quarterback James Pinkney capped an 84-yard drive by finding tight end J. Sonnhalter open in the back of the endzone on third-and-goal. The passing strike tied the game at 7-7, and the raucous crowd of Pirate fans were cheering it up.

    The Wolfpack's offense continued to have success moving the ball through the air and on the ground, as State scored points with just a minute left in the first half. Senior kicker John Deraney drilled a 34-yard field goal to put State ahead 10-7 at halftime. The kick concluded a 13-play 65-yard drive that took seven minutes off the clock, but it still left 34 seconds on the clock for East Carolina to do some damage.

    The Pirates did just that. After taking over at its own 40-yard line, Pinkney hit Dominique Lindsay for a seven-yard gain. Following a timeout, Pinkney threw a perfect pass to Aundre Allison down the sidelines, placing the ball between cornerback A.J. Davis and safety J.C. Neal, and Allison sprinted into the endzone as the 53-yard touchdown pass gave East Carolina a 14-10 halftime advantage.

    Pinkney had a terrific first half, completing 11-of-20 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. The Pirates rushed for just 23 yards on 17 carries, but Pinkney's arm was the difference in the opening 30 minutes.

    NC State's Daniel Evans completed 9-of-12 for 120 yards and Toney Baker rushed for 30 yards and a touchdown, as State tallied 183 yards of total offense.

    The offenses slowed down considerably in the third quarter, as both teams exchanged punts for much of the period. However it was East Carolina that made the first drive into the redzone. Starting the drive at the NC State 49-yard line, Pirate tailback Brandon Fractious burst down the sideline for a 26-yard gain. The drive was added by another Wolfpack penalty, this time as defensive tackle Alan-Michael Cash was called for a 5-yard facemask penalty, placing the ball at the 18. ECU moved the ball down to the 6, where Robert Lee pushed the 23-yard kick wide right, and NC State dodged the bullet as the score remained 14-10.

    The Wolfpack couldn't capitalize on the missed kick, as the State turned the ball over the first time all night when Marcus Stone tossed an interception after taking a reverse from Evans. Stone's passed was intended for Lamart Barrett, but Kasey Ross outjumped Barrett for the ball and recorded the interception.

    The Pirates would put the game away late in the fourth quarter behind the strong running of Fractious. Fractious, who finished the game with 92 rushing yards on 17 carries, scored from 12 yards out with just over 2 minutes remaining to give ECU a 21-10 advantage.

    The Pack would get another Baker touchdown run in the final minute, but the Pirates recovered the onsides kick to seal the victory.

    The loss ends a tough season for NC State, as the Wolfpack finished 3-9 on the year, easily the worst of Chuck Amato's tenure and leaving his future in doubt.

    East Carolina appears to be on the upswing, as the Pirates finish the regular season 7-5 and appear to be headed to a bowl game.

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