RALEIGH, N.C. -- Shane Carden threw three touchdown passes and ran for two scores to help East Carolina beat North Carolina State 42-28 on Saturday.
Justin Hardy had a first-quarter TD catch for the Pirates (9-2), who dominated the Wolfpack (3-8) to reach nine wins for the third time in six years. East Carolina led 21-7 at halftime and 35-7 entering the fourth on the way to the season's second road win against an instate rival from the Atlantic Coast Conference, not to mention its fifth straight overall.
The Pirates were stepping away from their Conference USA championship chase in their final year in that league. They travel to Marshall next week with a chance to clinch an appearance in the league title game as well as their first 10-win season in 22 years.
Brandon Mitchell threw four TD passes for the Wolfpack, three coming after the Pirates had built a big lead.
It was another ugly moment in a season full of them for N.C. State, which lost its seventh straight under first-year coach Dave Doeren.
This time, the Pirates were so dominant that they drove thousands of Wolfpack fans to the Carter-Finley Stadium exits by the start of the fourth quarter, leaving more fans wearing ECU purple than the home red for the final 15 minutes.
The Wolfpack scored three touchdowns in the final 5 1/2 minutes after the Pirates had long since put the game away.
The game felt a lot like the Pirates' 55-31 win at North Carolina in September. In that one, the Pirates pushed the Tar Heels around on their home field for their first win at Kenan Stadium in nearly four decades. Saturday's performance marked ECU's first win at Carter-Finley since 2006 as well as the first time the Pirates have beaten both the Tar Heels and the Wolfpack in the same season.
Carden threw for 255 yards on 23-for-30 passing, finding Hardy for a 3-yard score on the game's first drive then Bryce Williams for a 5-yard score early in the second. Carden ran for a 3-yard touchdown later in the quarter to make it 21-7, then added a 1-yard keeper midway through the third to push the lead to 28-7.
He closed his day with a 25-yard scoring pass to Lance Ray with 1:56 left, making it 42-14.
Hardy finished with eight catches for 83 yards to set the school's single-season record for yards receiving.
Mitchell threw for season-high 312 yards and found Tony Creecy for a 4-yard score in the first quarter, capping a drive lasting nearly eight minutes that tied the game at 7.
He didn't get the Wolfpack back to the end zone again until ECU was in firm control, connecting with Jumichael Ramos for a 2-yard score with 5:22 left then finding Rashard Smith for a 30-yard score with 51 seconds left.
Mitchell had one more score in garbage time, an 18-yard pass to Ramos with 5 seconds left after the Wolfpack recovered an onside kick.
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
Todd McShay previews the 2017 NFL draft class and makes his picks on who he believes will be drafted in the first round next year.
Booger McFarland tells Russillo & Kanell Texas A&M has a perception issue and coach Kevin Sumlin has his work cut out to fix the problem.
Twelve Buckeyes were selected through the first 139 picks. Can any team match that in 2017? Alabama and LSU look like the best bets.
FSU passed a resolution discouraging Seminoles fans from wearing Native American headdresses. A committee at the University of Illinois is looking for a new symbol to replace retired Chief Illiniwek. OTL explores issues facing these schools and their fans
The fallout continues after a coach at Texas A&M engaged in a twitter fight with some future Aggie players, causing at least one to decommit. OTL examines the pitfalls of the larger issue of coaches, and recruits in the minefield of social media.
The Hawkeyes are in good hands as they head toward the summer, with a bevy of strong leaders on board and action picking up on the recruiting trail.