Five key plays in ECU’s 42-28 victory against N.C. State:
1. ECU making it look easy
• Score: ECU 7, N.C. State 7, 11 minutes left in second quarter.
• Situation: ECU ball, 3rd-and-goal from N.C. State 5.
• The play: Shane Carden, operating from shotgun and with time to survey the field, hit Bryce Williams on a crossing route near corner of the end zone to give the Pirates a 14-7 lead.
• Why it mattered: ECU didn't face a third down on its opening scoring drive. It faced two on this drive. Vintavious Cooper ran for 26 yards on 3rd-and-1, and then Carden threw his second touchdown pass. The Pirates scored three TDs in the first half and faced just three third downs on those drives.
2. Pack misses chance to keep it close
• Score: ECU 21, N.C. State 7, 21 seconds left in second quarter.
• Situation: N.C. State ball, 3rd-and-9 at ECU 21.
• The play: Pack quarterback Brandon Mitchell, pressured, threw well out of bounds to bring up a fourth down.
• Why it mattered: N.C. State had picked up two third downs to extend the drive. It needed points to close the gap before half. The incompletion set up a 38-yard field goal try, which Nik Sade missed wide left.
3. ECU conversion leads to another TD
• Score: ECU 21, N.C. State 7, 10 minutes left in third quarter.
• Situation: ECU ball, 4th-and-3 at N.C. State 19.
• The play: ECU stayed no-huddle, and sent two receivers to the left. Carden hit Cam Worthy on a quick slant for a 6-yard gain.
• Why it mattered: N.C. State, again, was one play from holding the Pirates to a field goal. ECU scored five plays later when Carden dived in from the 1 for a 28-7 lead. ECU scored touchdowns on its first four trips to N.C. State's red zone.
4. More 4th-down woes for Pack
• Score: ECU 28, N.C. State 7, 6:50 left in third quarter.
• Situation: N.C. State ball, 4th-and-1 at ECU 36.
• The play: Brandon Mitchell set up in shotgun and handed to Shadrach Thornton, who was hit behind the line for a loss of 1.
• Why it mattered: N.C. State had 4th-down issues in previous losses against UNC and Duke. Mitchell, at 6-4 and 240 pounds, seemed like an ideal candidate for a keeper this time. Instead, ECU stuffed Thornton and forced a turnover. The Pirates then drove 63 yards in six plays, the biggest coming on Carden's 32-yard toss to Reese Wiggins, to push the margin to 35-7.
5. Bright spots on dark day
• Score: ECU 35, N.C. State 7, about 5:30 left in fourth quarter.
• Situation: N.C. State ball, 4th-and-4 at ECU 23.
• The play: Mitchell hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling on a 23-yard out route for a first down.
• Why it mattered: The next play, Mitchell tossed his second touchdown pass, a 3-yard fade route to Jumichael Ramos. Mitchell later hit Rashard Smith and Ramos for his third and fourth touchdown passes, a season high.