The Pirates pick up their eighth win of the season in front of 42,603 (ECU's total home attendance 263,910) against just two losses. It was ECU's 6th Conference USA win of the year with a 63-14 win over UAB. Catch PI-TV postgame, with Coach McNeill's postgame words along with ECU player interviews in links to the right as well as more interviews on the PI front page media player. That along with today's Senior Day Box Score, over 200 PI First Photos over on our Pillage-N-Plunder forum and more here on PirateIllustrated.com.
Coach Ruff UAB Postgame Part 1
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina(8-2/6-1) remained in the caldron of contention for another Conference USA title with a 63-14 bombardment of UAB(2-8/1-5) Saturday afternoon in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
It was Senior Day in Greenville with twenty seniors making their final regular season home appearance where seven of ECU's touchdowns came from seniors. The hope is to get back for one last Conference USA Championship game before moving to the American Athletic Conference next season.
Carden connected on 20 of 30 for 296 yards and five touchdowns against a pair of interceptions. Vintavious Cooper went out in style as the senior ran for 126 yards on 15 carries and a career high three touchdowns before yielding to junior Breon Allen who lit it up for 146 on 14 carries, mostly in the second half.
Reese Wiggins established new personal highs
for yards and touchdowns with 142 and three touchdowns. He and Justin Hardy pulled down five catches apiece and Cam Worthy added three more. Lance Ray caught a pair of passes in his Senior Day finale.
East Carolina tallied 625 yards in total offense in picking up their eighth win of the season.
The Pirates held UAB to 144 yards on the ground. The tandum of Jordan Howard and Darrin Reaves combined for 116 of those yards whle Jonathan Perry threw for 210 yards on 16 of 34 passing with two interceptions.
ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill recapped the 63-14 win over UAB on Senior Day.
"It was a great day. The senior representatives had a great game. I was proud of our guys and proud of the team. I'm proud of the core leadership. I've talked about that all year long. I asked our players to focus on one day at a time, not one game at a time and I think these seniors did that."
McNeill talked about the three-touchdown performance by senior wide receiver Reese Wiggins.
"(Junior quarterback) Shane (Carden) is doing a good job distributing the football and Reese did a great job of finishing plays and I was really proud of Reese," said McNeill who talked about Vintavious Cooper's three touchdown performance on Saturday. Every rep was termed as a Senior Rep. I've chewed the same dirt that these seniors have. I was fortunate to win on Senior Day as a player so I know how special it is for these seniors."
"Coop is Coop. He's been that way since he began playing. He did a great job of getting the ball in the end zone. It was a great day for our offense, and defense."
McNeill had high praise for the Pirate defense on Saturday.
"I thought the defense did a great job. They played well. I was proud of those guys. This team is a running team and I thought we did a really good job of running late. I thought (defensive coordinator) Rick (Smith) did a great job of making adjustments. It's very big for us to get three and outs. It's important to get returns. Rick has just been a blessing for our staff and also (inside linebackers coach) John Wiley and (outside linebackers coach) Duane Price and (defensive line coach) Mark Yellock and all those guys. That group and (offensive coordinator) Lincoln (Riley), they work well together. Lincoln and Rick have been doing some one-on-ones during the season which has helped us a lot."
UAB head coach Garrick McGee wasn't pleased with the 63-14 loss to East Carolina and talked about where the train went off the track.
"Well I think you were there so you saw us turn the ball over on a simple handoff to Jordan (Howard). Saw us bounce a screen-play off of someone's helmet in the red zone. You saw us throw a ball to the sideline and we didn't have our guys set up and he took off down the field," said McGee who when asked about the past couple of weeks replied, "I don't spend any time thinking about that. I really just spend time thinking about our guys and spend time thinking about when you drive the ball down the field and you have it on the 13-yard line in a 21-7 game and you've got a play that is going to walk around the end zone for a touchdown and you fumble the exchange, those are the things I spend time thinking about."
East Carolina jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead. Two Shane Carden touchdown passes of 5 and 55 yards to senior receiver Reese Wiggins in the first quarter got things started for the Pirates.
Darrin Reaves ran it in from 4 yards out for a UAB touchdown with 14:13 to go in the second quarter. Ty Long's extra point was good to pull the Blazers within seven points on a five play 65 yard drive.
Vintavious Cooper got it going in the second quarter with a pair of touchdowns, one from 26 yards out and another from a yard away as East Carolina didn't let up.
Two UAB turnovers lended to ECU's explosive first half including a fumble recovery by ECU's Brandon Williams and a Derrell Johnson interception late in the half.
The Pirate junior quarterback got his third touchdown pass of the first half with 39 seconds to go on a four play 59 yard drive culminating in a 11-yard Justin Hardy fade pass into the right corner of the endzone to put the Pirates up 35-7 at intermission.
Carden was 15 of 23 for 231 yards and three touchdowns in the first half for East Carolina while senior running back Vintavious Cooper churned out 113 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
Jonathan Perry connected on 11 for 20 for 136 yards with one interception in the first two quarters for the Blazers. UAB running backs Jordan Howard and Darrin Reaves combined for 77 yards on the ground against a stiff Pirate defense that only gave up 207 yards in the first half.
ECU tallied 401 yards of total offense in the first two quarters. Justin Hardy had five catches for 47 yards and Durham senior Reese Wiggins blew up for four catches for 125 yards before halftime.
Five minutes into the third quarter, Vintavious Cooper was at it again. Cooper pounded it in from four yards out for his third touchdown of the day to cap a ten play, 79 yard drive to open the second half. Warren Harvey's PAT gave the Pirates a commanding 42-7 lead.
And don't forget the ECU defense on this Senior Day as senior linebacker Kyle Tudor made a play to remember. The Augusta, Georgia senior intercepted a Jonathan Perry pass attempt at midfield and carried it back with a convoy of Pirate defenders for a Pirate touchdown. Warren Harvey's PAT extended the ECU lead to 49-7 with 7:03 still to go in the third quarter.
The Pirates went to the trickeration on the last play of the third quarter when Carden rolled right and passed back left on a tackle eligible play to Ike Harris. Harris dropped the backwards pass that was still a live football. He picked it up and advanced the football to the one-yard line.
Harris gave five of those yards back on a false start to open the fourth quarter. But ECU scored on the first play of the period when Carden found 6-6 Bryce Williams from six yards out for a touchdown. Harvey's point after touchdown made the score 56-7 on a 12 play, 88 yard drive.
UAB got a little something cooking with 9:30 to go in the game on fourth and goal when quarterback Jonathan Perry scored their second touchdown of the day from three yards out on an option keeper off right tackle. The score was 56-14.
Carden found Wiggins once more late in the fourth quarter on a 17-yard strike for his third touchdown catch and Carden's fifth touchdown pass of the day for the final margin of victory.