On a Saturday night in front of a half-filled Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, the #19 East Carolina Pirates rallied from a ten-point halftime deficit to top the USF Bulls, 28-17. The Pirates improved to 5-1 on the season with a 2-0 mark in the American Athletic Conference and kept their hopes of winning the Group of Five access bowl slot alive. The Bulls fell to 2-4 on the season (1-1 in AAC play).
USF, who entered the night as a 15.5 point underdog, struck first on the arm of quarterback Mike White, who delivered a beautiful ball to receiver Andre Davis over the Pirates' defense for a 51-yard touchdown on the Bulls' first possession. Davis, who returned from injury to play for the first time since week one, finished with a team-leading six receptions for 124 yards.
East Carolina's best weapon for much of the night was not senior quarterback Shane Carden, but halfback Breon Allen, who had 17 carries for 120 yards and notched the Pirates' first score with a 25-yard reception late in the first quarter to knot the game at seven apiece.
The Bulls did a fine job of shutting down ECU's Air Raid offense early, building a ten point lead going into the half on a 13-yard run from true freshman halfback Marlon Mack and a long field goal from Marvin Kloss as time expired in the second quarter.
The second half was another story entirely. USF saw their first drive fizzle out at midfield, and the Pirates responded with a 12 play, 84 yard drive that ended in a Marquez Grayson touchdown run to cut the lead to 17-14.
Allen added a touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, and after the Pirates forced a three and out, Carden guided the offense down the field for a long drive that ended in 20-yard touchdown run from true freshman Anthony Scott.
Carden finished 24 for 33 passing for 250 yards, one touchdown and one interception for ECU. Receiver Justin Hardy was his favorite target, racking up ten catches for 114 yards.