GREENVILLE, NC. -- Coming into last Saturday's matchup with Memphis, East Carolina wanted to start fast and finish strong.
The 4-3 Pirates accomplished both of those goals on the strength of an explosive offense and stingy defense, dominating the Tigers 41-7.
Three plays into the game, the Pirates grabbed the momentum with a big play in the passing game. Shane Carden hit a wide open Justin Hardy streaking down the middle of the field, and 67 yards later, they were up 7-0.
"It was just a basic read," Carden said. "They blitzed in, the first read is Hardy, he opened up, he came inside, caught it and it was just a foot race after that."
"Basically, I lined up in the backfield, Shane threw me the ball and I was open, and I just took off running," said Hardy
The Pirates found the end zone again when Carden lobbed a jump ball to Justin Jones and the 6-foot-8 tight end came down with it to make it a two score game.
"It was a tough catch, but a routine play. We practice it," Jones said. "Certain situations, you have to go up and make a play."
After the first two drives, the ECU offense faced some adversity in the form of two turnovers but the defense stepped up by making enough plays to keep Memphis off the scoreboard.
"They absolutely put us in some great field position, got some turnovers. We turned the ball over, they held them. They just played lights out," said Carden.
The Pirates put the game out of reach in the second half with three more touchdown passes from Carden.
"I'm proud of the way Shane is approaching it. He's really been very coachable and wanting information and knowledge," Head Coach Ruffin McNeill said. "As long as he keeps that, and I think he will, he'll continue to get better."
The Tigers dashed the shutout hopes with a late fourth quarter touchdown run.
"When they scored that touchdown, we acted like we lost because we wanted to shut them out," said linebacker Daniel Drake. "That's how much we want to succeed and that's really going to help us out in this last stretch."
The Pirates move on to visit 1-5 UAB next Saturday.