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East Carolina Struggles, Escapes UConn 31-21

The Pirates turned in their third straight underwhelming performance, but stayed in the driver's seat for an AAC title thanks to a strong fourth quarter.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Warren Harvey made a go-ahead 31-yard field goal with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, and 18th-ranked East Carolina avoided disaster at home against a UConn squad winless against FBS foes, escaping with a 31-21 win. The Pirates kept their hopes of an American Athletic Conference title and Group of Five access bowl slot alive, improving to 6-1 with an unblemished 3-0 mark in AAC play.

The Pirates got all they could handle from the Huskies, who entered the night as a four-touchdown underdog. UConn senior quarterback Chandler Whitmer had his best game of the season, throwing for 303 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 18 for 30 passing, including a beautiful 88 yard touchdown pass to Deshon Foxx that tied the game at 21 at the end of the third quarter. The Huskies' offense went cold in the final frame, however, and the Pirates were able to bleed the clock and ice the game with a nine-yard touchdown run from Breon Allen.

Pirates star quarterback Shane Carden had another impressive, if inefficient game, finishing 38 for 64 passing for 445 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. His favorite target, as usual, was receiver Justin Hardy, who caught a remarkable 14 passes for 186 yards and a score. The Carden-Hardy combo looked as if they might bury UConn early, with two touchdown passes from the senior QB in the first quarter to establish an early 14-0 lead. The Huskies slowly fought back with a pair of long drives punctuated by a touchdown run from Whitmer on a quarterback sneak and a 32-yard toss from Whitmer to Noel Thomas.

It was a third straight underwhelming performance for ECU, who previously needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to put away 0-6 SMU and had to overcome a ten-point deficit against 3-4 USF. Still, the Pirates likely remain the frontrunners to earn the Group of Five access bowl slot.

UConn, meanwhile, fell to 1-6 with an 0-4 mark in the American.