Sharp Passing Effort, Physical Play Dominate Second Scrimmage

GREENVILLE, N.C. - Junior Shane Carden completed 19-of-22 passes for 233 yards and a pair of touchdowns to spearhead the offensive effort, while a surging defensive unit tallied 15 tackles for lost yardage on the other side of the ball during East Carolina's second intra-squad scrimmage of the spring Saturday morning at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The controlled contest, which was played in overcast and seasonal temperatures, consisted of approximately 80 plays featuring the top three levels of the program's depth chart.

Pirate quarterbacks combined to complete nearly 75 percent of their passes as Carden, sophomore Cody Keith, true freshman Kurt Benkert and redshirt freshman Ethan Long connected on 38-of-51 attempts for 438 yards. While ECU's offensive unit accounted for 480 total yards, four TDs and two field goals, it was also slowed by four penalties and a defense that was able to frequently work its way into the backfield.

"I thought we attacked it well and were very competitive," head coach Ruffin McNeill said. "This is a team with a great competitive spirit and I like that. Fundamentals have improved from last week to this week and I saw that on both sides of the ball.

"We had some big plays offensively and we had some good things happen on defense. They’re really doing a good job of what (defensive coordinator) Rick (Smith) wants. He has great demands and expectations for that group and I've seen that surge each week."

Defensively, sophomore safety Domonique Lennon and senior outside linebacker Gabriel Woullard contributed team-best six-tackle outings, while sophomore end Johnathon White added five stops, including three for lost yardage. Among the Pirates' 15 hits behind the line of scrimmage were nine "quick whistle" sacks that the officiating crew were charged with enforcing for precautionary and protective reasons.

Carden, who enjoyed a run of eight consecutive completions that totaled 112 yards to open his day, connected with junior Justin Hardy on a six-yard scoring strike to cap his first possession before hitting junior Danny Webster with a 25-yarder for his other touchdown. Keith, who completed 12-of-18 passes for 116 yards also engineered two successful drives that were capped by one-yard and 27-yard TD runs by sophomore Cory Hunter and senior Zico Pasut, respectively. Pasut topped all rushers with 35 yards on four carries, while Hunter added 33 on nine attempts.

Webster (six receptions for 73 yards), Hardy (6-61) and sophomore Cedric Thompson (5-50) topped a group of 15 pass catchers that averaged 11.5 yards per reception.

In addition to creating plenty of pressure, most notably from its front seven, the Pirate defense enjoyed several other highlights which included an interception by redshirt freshman DaShaun Amos and a fumble recovery by true freshman Tristan Mumford. The unit also surrendered only 42 rushing yards on 26 carries - an average of just 1.6 yards per attempt - and limited the offense to a six-of-17 success rate on third down.

"I thought the fundamental improvement was the biggest thing today," McNeill added. "This team is in a state where it has a lot of depth and experience, but the one thing I don’t want to neglect is making sure we improve fundamentally. I thought we executed well and played fast in what was a very physical day today."

East Carolina will open its fourth and final week of spring work Monday with a full-pad session beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Hight Field inside the Cliff Moore Practice Complex.