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September 28, 2013

Five Game Changers: East Carolina

North Carolina gave up 603 yards of total offense and surrendered 55 points Saturday afternoon as the Tar Heels lost to in-state rival East Carolina for the first time in 38 years.

Take a look at some of the plays that made the difference in ECU's triumph with our 'Five Game Changers.'

Opening Drive

East Carolina has been a team that comes out of the gate quickly, as the Pirates have scored on their first drive in all three games to start the season. Ruffin McNeil needed that start again in Chapel Hill, as the Tar Heels geared up to put the pressure on the Pirates.

Well, McNeil got his wish, as the Pirates were able to march right down the field in 11 plays for 73 yards, in what would be a theme for Saturday's game in Chapel Hill.

The Pirates worked well with a balanced attack, with Shane Carden going 6 of 7 from the field, eventually giving the lead to the Pirates and they never looked back.

Shane Carden

Carden came in last year just becoming the starter for the Pirates, eventually learning what McNeil wanted from him on the field.

Last year, he might have not been ready for stage but he wasn't going to let this one get away from him in Chapel Hill.

Carden managed the game with ease, seemingly able to pick apart the defense under Fedora time and time again, with the Tar Heels having no answer.

Putting pressure on Carden was certainly a key of the game that the Tar Heels needed to accomplish, but UNC was never able to get to the quarterback all throughout the game.

Eventually, Carden finished the day with 376 yards in the air and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 23 yards total but had another three touchdowns on the ground, giving him a career game with six total touchdowns on the day.

Vintavious Cooper

Even though Carden had a great game, one could say that Vintavious Cooper is what destroyed the Tar Heels Saturday, as Cooper had a career game against the Tar Heels.

Cooper finished the afternoon with 196 yards on 35 carries, while also having 70 yards receiving, as he took over the game and was able to secure the win for the Pirates.

No matter what the Tar Heels did, Cooper seemed to find gashing holes in the defensive line, averaging over 5.3 yards a carry.

For the Pirates to come away with the win they had to have a balanced attack in both the passing and the run game; Cooper provided both Saturday evening and was a huge part in the victory for the Pirates.

UNC Penalties

North Carolina has struggled at times with penalties this season, as it resumed from last week against Georgia Tech. Time and time again, the Tar Heels shot themselves in the foot with untimely penalties, eventually adding up to 94 yards on the day.

But what might stand out is when they penalties occurred, wiping out big plays in the pass game, the run game, and the return game.

Whether it was the personal fouls on the defense, pass interference, or holding penalties on the offensive line, the Tar Heels continually hurt themselves throughout the game, either giving the Pirates another chance to score or forcing the Tar Heels in a long yardage situation.

East Carolina only racked up 34 yards on penalties.

UNC Defense

"Where was the defense?" some will ask after watching the game in Chapel Hill. In the end, the Tar heels gave up 603 yards on the afternoon, with 376 yards coming through the air and 227 yards on the ground.

East Carolina hasn't had this much of a dominating victory over an ACC opponent in years, as the Tar Heels had no answer for the Pirates offense.

Even though the Tar Heels were able to rack up 465 total yards of their own, the game never seemed to be in question, as each and every time the Tar Heels scored, the Pirates sucked the momentum of UNC and the fans right out of the stadium, with one of their quick attack, scoring drives.

East Carolina was 8-of-8 in the red zone, scoring six touchdowns and two field goals on the afternoon.

The Pirates averaged 6.0 yards per play and were able to physically wear out the Tar Heel defense, after running 101 plays on the day (the most ever against North Carolina).


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