Patrick Pinkney passed for two third-quarter touchdowns and East Carolina continued its quest for a berth in the Conference USA title game with a 41-6 win over UAB on Saturday.
The Pirates (4-1, 5-4) came into the game with the league's best turnover margin. Free safety Van Eskridge picked off UAB quarterback Sam Hunt on the third play of the game at the Blazers' 35.
Four plays later, freshman running back Jonathan Williams started the onslaught with a 35-yard run to put the Pirates up to stay at 7-0.
The Pirates' balanced attack dominated the young Blazers (2-6, 1-3) throughout. Led by Chris Johnson (15 carries, 79 yards) and Williams (5-63), ECU rolled up 194 rushing yards through three quarters (216 overall) as it led 20-6 at the half and 41-6 after three quarters.
Pinkney (6-of-7, 159 yards), who alternated with starter Rob Kass, found wide receiver Jamar Bryant with a 52-yard strike behind the UAB defense midway through the third quarter that put the Pirates up 34-6.
Then, with 36 seconds left in the quarter, Pinkney threaded another pass to wide receiver Steven Rogers in the left corner of the end zone for a 7-yard score. That capped off an 8-play, 70-yard drive.
The Blazers' starters never got any deeper than the ECU 25 yard line, and they only went that far twice. The first time, midway through the first quarter, ended with a 42-yard field goal by Swayze Waters that cut ECU's lead to 7-3.
The second trip to the ECU 25, early in the third quarter, stalled when quarterback Sam Hunt (12-of-29, 94 yards, 2 interceptions) was sacked by defensive lineman C.J. Wilson. Waters then missed a 47-yard attempt, which snapped his 11-for-11 streak this season of field goals of 40 yards or more.