East Carolina made some noise two weeks ago with an upset of Virginia Tech, but it was Saturday’s 70-point performance in a thrashing of North Carolina that has elevated the Pirates into The Associated Press Top 25.
The Pirates came in at No. 23 in this week’s poll, which was released on Sunday afternoon. They moved up from being the sixth team under others receiving votes last week to appearing in their first AP poll since 2008, when they went 9-5 and won the Conference USA title.Six years ago, East Carolina was No. 14 in the second week of the season and dropped out of the poll three weeks later after an overtime loss to NC State. If the Pirates stay in the Top 25 for longer than one week, next week’s poll will be the latest in the season that they have been ranked since 1999. In all, they have been in the poll in five different seasons -- 1976, ’83, ’91, ’99 and 2008 for a total of 28 polls. The best ranking the Pirates have ever had was finishing the 1991 season at No. 9.
Now at 3-1, with the lone loss coming by 10 to now-No. 13 South Carolina on Sept. 6, East Carolina has certainly had no shortage of fireworks lately. On Saturday alone, the Pirates posted a school-record 789 yards on offense en route to a 70-41 win against North Carolina, which had a five-spot edge just on the outside of last week’s AP Top 25. A crowd of 51,082 watched the game at ECU’s Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, also a program record. It was the Pirates second consecutive win against North Carolina (they won 55-31 last season) and their fourth in a row against an ACC opponent. The week before, Virginia Tech fell victim to ECU by a score of 28-21, and they beat NC State in November of last season.
Senior quarterback Shane Carden led the way for the Pirates on Saturday with six touchdowns (four passing, two rushing). He completed 30 of 48 passes for 438 yards and has passed for more than 400 yards in consecutive games for the first time in his career. He has 1,469 yards on the season, which is third nationwide, with 11 touchdowns. Running back Breon Allen recorded 233 all-purpose yards, a career record, and reached the end zone twice for the first time. He is averaging 9.9 yards per carry this season and leads the team with 346 total rushing yards.
East Carolina will now have a bye week before starting play in their new conference, the American Athletic, on Oct. 4 at home against SMU. In the remainder of the season, the Pirates will also play host to Connecticut, Tulane and UCF. In two games so far, they have outscored opponents 122-48 at home. Remaining away games include USF, Temple, Cincinnati and Tulsa.
Notes from the rest of the Top 25:
Mississippi State moved up 13 spots to No. 14 after its win at then-No. 8 LSU, which dropped to No. 17. … The SEC still has seven teams in the top 14. … The top seven remained unchanged.