ECU's 603 yards against Heels most since Spurrier, Duke in '89
There hasn’t been much of a home-field advantage for North Carolina’s defense lately, and Saturday was no exception.
East Carolina (3-1) put up 603 yards — the second-most ever by an opponent at Kenan Stadium — and ran 101 plays in a 55-31 win against the Tar Heels at Kenan Stadium.
UNC (1-3) has allowed an average of 41.7 points in its last six home games.
The Pirates came in averaging 63.3 yards a game rushing (118th in the FBS) but posted 227 against the Tar Heels, including a career-high 186 yards on 35 carries by senior Vintavious Cooper.
Meanwhile, the defense that posted seven sacks in last year’s meeting — its most since 2000 — didn’t get to quarterback Shane Carden at all on Saturday.
“You can say it was the defenses that we ran, you can say that guys didn’t want it bad enough,” defensive tackle Tim Jackson said. “Anything you want to name it on, you can say it right now because we gave up 55 points. It’s hard to talk about.”
The Tar Heels only forced two punts and caused one turnover — senior Tre Boston’s 10th career interception — as Carden was 32-of-47 for 376 yards and three touchdowns.
“We went into the game saying we’re going to at least stop the run and make them throw the football,” UNC coach Larry Fedora said. “Well, we didn’t do either. I mean, they ran it at will and threw it at will. And then the missed tackles were glaring when those came up.”
The Pirates scored just six points against the Tar Heels last season, but needed just 3:32 to exceed that total on Saturday. They went 73 yards on 11 plays on the opening possession to take the lead on a 6-yard touchdown pass by Carden.
That was the first of six straight times that ECU scored a touchdown when it reached the red zone.
Down 35-10 midway through the third quarter, UNC finally got in a groove on offense, putting together touchdown drives in 1:56, 1:28 and 59 seconds of playing time to make it 45-31 with 13:52 remaining.
But the defense couldn’t come up with a stop, allowing ECU to take 4:59 off the clock and then kick a 29-yard field goal to make it a three-possession game with 8:53 to play.
By the end, ECU's yardage total at Kenan was surpassed only by Steve Spurrier’s Duke team, which put up 656 yards in a 41-0 win in 1989.