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They will go down as one of the best — if not the very best —
quarterback/receiver combinations in East Carolina football history.
Quarterback Shane Carden and receiver Justin Hardy may re-write the ECU
record book before they wrap up their stellar careers next year.
Hardy passed Dwayne Harris with his 23rd career touchdown reception in
Saturday’s 58-24 homecoming win over Tulsa.
Carden threw five more touchdown passes. He ran for another two in the
Carden was more enthused, though, about the record setter for his
“I am very excited and honored to be with him for this,” said Carden. “I
told him as soon as he started running, ‘That’s the record, congrats and
I’m honored to be here with you for this one.’ ”
Hardy is as humble as anyone I have ever been around. He’s an eastern
North Carolina kid, the type that good Pirate teams have had over the
years. He knows where he has come from. His first thought on the record
reflected his inclination to shy away from the spotlight.
“I guess you could say a relief for now,” Hardy explained. “Nobody was
really open on it like you’re a touchdown away from this. “Now I can
just play ball and not listen to the outside noises.”
As good as Hardy has been, his records may not last all that long.
Isaiah Jones is off to an incredible start as a true freshman. Hardy
knows that when the other receivers play well, it is a plus for him and
the entire offense.
“It’s helping me out a lot,” said Hardy. “When another guy steps up in
the passing offense, nobody can really get double-teamed, so it’s
helping me out a lot so I am really grateful.”
Hardy really likes the talent of his younger running mate.
“Isaiah is a baller,” said Hardy with a smile. “I’m proud of him. He
makes our entire team better.”
Carden has his own quill and ink pad ready to roll, all set to rewrite
records first set by the likes of Blake, Crandell and Garrard. Now,
though, he has other things on his mind, like winning a Conference USA
“That’s our mentality of this team and that’s my mentality as a player,”
said Carden. “There are always things we can be better on, and our goal
entering this season was to win a championship. I think there were times
we played like champions (in the win over Tulsa) and there were times we
should’ve stepped it up a lot more.”
"Shane is an all-conference player,” said Pirate coach Ruffin McNeill.
“I think he proves it week in and week out. He keeps getting better. I'm
proud of Shane's progress. They call him 'Captain Carden' for a reason.
He's our captain and our team believes in him and our staff believes in
him. He has a great impact on our football team."
With three regular season games to go, the Pirates' goals are still very
much in sight.
East Carolina is 7-2 — and a dropped pick six against Virginia Tech and
a missed field goal against Tulane away from a 9-0, BCS-busting season.
Still, these last three games, especially the season-ender at Marshall,
will decide just how great of a season this turns out to be.
As good as the offense has been, Carden knows it can be better. It may
have to be to finish the year with a trio of wins.
“It’s just the consistency,” he said. “I just need to pick that up and I
think as an offense, us together, at times we move the ball with ease.
At times we just go three and out and it’s kind of frustrating. We need
to play more consistent.”
The Pirate theme this November has been to play like a champion.
Struggling UAB comes to town this weekend. Then it’s a rivalry game
against another struggling team in North Carolina State, followed by the
season-ending C-USA East Division showdown with Marshall.
While it is November, the season may just be starting for the Pirates.