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No. 19 East Carolina fends off South Florida

Oct 12, 2014 - 7:07 AM Tampa, FL ( - Shane Carden passed for a season-low 250 yards, but No. 19 East Carolina held off South Florida 28-17 to remain unbeaten in the American Athletic Conference.

Carden, who joined the Heisman Trophy discussion following back-to-back four touchdown games against North Carolina and SMU, completed 24-of-33 passes with a touchdown and an interception. Breon Allen led a potent ground attack with 124 yards and a rushing score, while Marquez Grayson and Anthony Scott also added touchdown runs in the triumph.

East Carolina (5-1, 2-0 AAC) overcame 12 penalties for 148 yards and kept South Florida off the scoreboard in the second half. The Pirates have won four straight games.

Mike White passed for 257 yards, a touchdown and a pick on 21-of-41 efficiency. Andre Davis, who led the club in receiving each of the past two years, returned to the lineup after missing four games with a bruised sternum and made six catches for 124 yards and a touchdown.

South Florida (2-4, 1-1) lost to ECU for the first time in program history.

USF opened the scoring midway through the first quarter. On first down from the USF 49, White went up top following a play-action fake and hit Davis in stride for a 51-yard touchdown. The Pirates answered late in the period on Allen's 35-yard touchdown reception.

ECU's offense was quiet the rest of the half, and the Bulls took advantage. Mack's 13-yard touchdown run and Marvin Kloss' 45-yard field goal produced the only points of the second quarter, and the underdog Bulls owned a 17-7 lead at halftime.

"In the first half, we were moving the ball great. We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot," Carden said. "We had a bunch of penalties, and we just let them affect us too much."

East Carolina made the right adjustments out of halftime and dominated the final 30 minutes.

Midway through the third, Carden and Cam Worthy connected on 4th-and-1 to extend the drive, and Grayson ran it in from 24 yards away to pull the Pirates back within three points.

Allen gave them the lead early in the second, capping a 12-play drive with a short touchdown plunge. Then following a three-and-out, Scott found the end zone from 20 yards out, and ECU was in control.

South Florida had a chance to make it a one-possession game late, but Kloss missed a 28-yard chip shot with less than a minute remaining, and Carden kneeled once to burn the remaining time.

Game Notes

The two programs previously played together in the Conference USA from 2002-04. USF was 4-0 in the series ... South Florida has dropped eight in a row to ranked opponents ... ECU is off to its best start since 1999 ... Pirates wide receiver Justin Hardy had 10 catches for 114 yards.