Hardy sparks East Carolina past NC Central 52-7

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) Justin Hardy caught two of Shane Carden’s three touchdown passes and threw one of his own on a trick play, helping East Carolina pull away from North Carolina Central 52-7 in the season opener for both teams Saturday night.

The Pirates trailed 7-3 early, but surged ahead when Hardy took a reverse and threw a 41-yard touchdown strike to Isaiah Jones. Breon Allen added a 5-yard rushing score before Carden and Hardy connected twice to make it 31-7 at half.

Carden found Trevon Brown for a 17-yard touchdown while Anthony Scott and Kurt Benkert each added rushing touchdowns to fuel the rout in the second half.

Carden finished 26 of 37 with 283 yards for East Carolina and Jones had 10 receptions for 150 yards.

The Eagles’ lone touchdown came on a 31-yard fumble recovery by C.J. Moore to open the scoring.