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Three and Out: East Carolina starts hot, tops Virginia Tech in Blacksburg

Three and Out: Shane Carden, East Carolina upset Virginia Tech 28-20 in Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech’s momentum coming off last week’s 35-21 upset of Ohio State apparently didn’t carry into Saturday. East Carolina edged the No. 17 Hokies 28-21 in Lane Stadium. Here are three quick thoughts from the game:

1. East Carolina’s Shane Carden was clutch

Pirates quarterback Shane Carden wasted no time picking apart Virginia Tech’s defense. He tossed all three of his touchdown passes in the first quarter, as East Carolina raced to a 21-0 lead. While the Hokies’ attack struggled, Carden threw for 294 yards in the first half.

The Pirates went into the break with a 21-7 lead, and it could’ve been even more lopsided. East Carolina squandered two second-quarter red-zone opportunities with a turnover on downs and a missed 37-yard field goal.

Carden saved his best for last, though. After the Hokies rallied to tie the game 21-21 with 1:20 to play, Carden completed passes of 31 and 28 yards on the Pirates’ final drive. He then ran for a one-yard score to seal the upset victory.

Carden finished 23-of-47 for 427 yards with four total touchdowns. He shined down the stretch against a tough Hokies defense. Now, Carden will look to repeat his success against North Carolina next weekend.

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2. Virginia Tech suffered from rare defensive lapses

Hokies coordinator Bud Foster is one of the most respected defensive minds in the nation, but East Carolina had his number Saturday. The Pirates shot out of the gate by compiling 370 yards (7.9 per play) in the first half. Virginia Tech found its footing in the third quarter, limiting East Carolina to 13 total yards. But the Pirates' offense clicked when it mattered most.

The Hokies surrendered two big completions in the waning moments as East Carolina marched toward the winning score. The Pirates maintained possession for less than 24 minutes, yet they still found a way to surpass 500 yards of total offense. Carden and wide receiver Cam Worthy (six catches for 224 yards) overpowered a typically dominant Hokies’ secondary.

3. This loss has no effect on the Hokies’ ACC aspirations

The good news for Virginia Tech? It remains unbeaten in ACC play,

Saturday’s loss certainly tempers excitement from the Hokies’ triumph in Columbus. However, Virginia Tech still controls its conference destiny, and the ACC Coastal Division is wide open. Major questions surround division rivals North Carolina, Miami and Pittsburgh.

If Virginia Tech’s defense can return to form and quarterback Michael Brewer can cut down on his mistakes, there is no reason why these Hokies shouldn’t contend for a spot in the ACC championship game.