FACTS & STATS: Site: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (50,000) — Greenville, North
Carolina. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: North Carolina 2-0, East Carolina
1-0. Away Record: North Carolina 0-0, East Carolina 1-1. Neutral Record: North
Carolina 0-0, East Carolina 0-0. Conference Record: North Carolina 0-0, East
Carolina 0-0. Series Record: North Carolina leads, 12-3-1.
GAME NOTES: East Carolina comes off one of its biggest wins in program
history this week to host the North Carolina Tar Heels at Dowdy-Ficklen
Stadium on Saturday.
Shane Carden’s one-yard touchdown run with 16 seconds left in regulation
lifted East Carolina to a 28-21 victory over then-No. 17 Virginia Tech last
Carden ended up 23-of-47 passing, for 427 yards and threw for his team’s first
three scores as the Pirates wasted a 21-point first-half advantage before
rallying to improve to 2-1 this season.
Trevon Brown, Isaiah Jones and Bryce Williams posted a TD grab apiece, with
Breon Allen adding 54 yards on eight carries for the Pirates, who will have to
avoid this let-down game before starting conference play next week.
Offensively, the Pirates are scoring at a 34.3 points per game clip,
averaging 138 yards rushing and 374 yards passing per game. It’s the air
attack that makes the offense go.
Carden has been the catalyst, completing 62 percent of his passes for 1,031
yards with seven touchdowns and just two picks through three games.
Cam Worthy is averaging 100 yards per game receiving, while Justin Hardy,
Brown and Jones pace the receivers with two TD catches each.
On the defensive side, ECU has kept opponents in check, yielding just 20
points per game and only 334 yards per game.
North Carolina was idle last week after starting the season with wins in the
first two weeks.
Last time out, the Tar Heels defeated the San Diego State Aztecs 31-27. North
Carolina trailed by 14 points in the second half before rallying for the win
behind quarterback Marquise Williams.
Williams completed 20-of-29 passes for 255 yards with two touchdowns and
Elijah Hood ran for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter for North
Carolina, which is 2-0 for the first time since starting the 2011 season 3-0.
Williams also ran for a team-high 63 yards for North Carolina, which is
averaging 43.5 points per game through two contests this season.
The signal caller is leading a North Carolina offense that is averaging 418
yards per contest.
Williams has a team-high 116 yards and thrown for 424 yards on 67.2 percent
passing. He has accounted for six of the 10 offensive touchdowns for North
Carolina and after him, there isn’t much of a threat on offense.
Defensively, the Tar Heels have struggled. They are allowing 428 yards per
game, but only 28 points. Travis Hughes leads the squad with 15 total tackles
and Brian Walker has a team-high two interceptions.
On the injury front, the Tar Heels will likely be without right guard Landon
Turner, who left the San Diego State game with an undisclosed injury. However,
bandit Norkeithus Otis, who missed the San Diego State contest, should return
to action this weekend. East Carolina will be without linebacker Devaris
Brunson and linebacker Joe Carter is doubtful with an elbow injury.
North Carolina has won 12 of the 16 meeting in this series (12-3-1), but East
Carolina won the most recent contest, 55-31, last season.
In that game, running back Vintavious Cooper and Carden combined for 562 of
East Carolina’s 603 yards of total offense to lead the Pirates. Cooper tallied
a career-best 186 rushing yards, while Carden added 376 through the air
and was directly responsible for six of ECU’s seven touchdowns – passing and
running for three each, as the Pirates established a school single-game record
with 101 plays and matched another standard with 36 first downs in posting
their first victory in Chapel Hill since 1975.
While North Carolina has dominated this series, it’s hard to see the Tar Heels
going into Greenville and winning this one. Expect last year’s result to
duplicate itself as North Carolina hasn’t been tested yet and East Carolina is
coming off a tough loss to South Carolina and a big win against Virginia Tech,
that should give it enough confidence to come away with the victory here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: East Carolina 34, North Carolina 28