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October 20, 2012BIRMINGHAM, ALA - Vintavious Cooper ran for 167 yards and two touchdowns and Shane Carden passed for 386 yards and two more as ECU held on to beat UAB 42-35 at Legion Field.
Justin Hardy made his presence known and was a factor all game long. With his six catches for 131 yards including several death defying catches during the Conference USA shootout, Hardy kept things interesting every time ECU fell behind.
ECU(5-3/4-1) could not afford to slip up in division play after stumbling to UCF the week prior. The Pirates came to play on this Saturday. Even when they lost momentum on a few occasions, they went out and made the plays necessary to get the win.
Michael Dobson opened the scoring for East Carolina for a 7-0 lead on a 2 yard touchdown run with 6:09 in the first quarter.
The Pirate defense was stingy early, yielding only one first down in the first ten minutes of the contest.
Shane Carden's next drive was capped by a 52 yard pass completion to Jabril Solomon with 3:51 left in the first quarter, but ECU was unable to pound it in from the one yard line. The Pirates settled for a 22 yard field goal from Warren Harvey for a 10-0 lead just as the second quarter began.
UAB was right back at it on offense with a 66 yard bomb from Austin Brown to Nick Adams to the ECU one yard line where Darren Reeves punched it in. Reeves ended up with 69 yards on the ground for the Blazers on 21 carries.
The Blazers were able to limit ECU to a 25 yard Warren Harvey field goal on the next drive as the Pirates went up 13-7 with 7:45 left in the half.
Brown then connected with Jamarcuis Nelson for 35 yards on a deep post as the Blazers took a 14-13 lead into intermission.
Vintavious Cooper ran for 77 yards in the first half on the way to 167 yards on 25 carries for ECU and two touchdowns.
Austin Brown found Sam Accursio wide open in the right endzone for a four yard score to cap a 13 play, 76 yard drive. That gave UAB a 21-13 lead early in the third quarter.
ECU struck back on a Tay Cooper 1 yard touchdown with 5:19 to go in the third quarter as the Pirates pulled to within one at 21-20.
Cooper scored again out of the backfield when Shane Carden found the Pirate junior for a 30 yard strike to give ECU their first lead of the second half at 27-21.
UAB regained the lead when Austin Brown hit Kennard Backman up the middle for 9 yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Ty Long's extra point put the Blazers back on top, 28-27.
Hardy struck again with a circus catch in the right endzone. He managed to get one foot down inbounds on the pass from Carden. The two point ECU conversion from Cooper on a second effort put the Pirates up 35-28 with 9:32 remaining in the contest.
ECU went to the well again when Carden hit Hardy down the middle on a 44 yard strike to the one yard line that led to a Vintavious Cooper touchdown and a 42-28 lead with 7 minutes left.
Reeves scored for UAB with 3:47 in regulation to pull UAB to within seven at 42-35. Then the Pirates ran out the clock on the ensuing possession for their fifth victory of the season.
"Really a great team win," said third year Pirate head coach Ruffin McNeill, "Wins are hard to get so it's good to get this one."
Austin Brown connected on 22 of 37 for 319 yards and four touchdown passes for UAB in a precurser of things to come in the future for the Blazers.
The Pirates showed a potent running game at Legion field running for 212 yards on the ground as a team on 42 rushes.
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