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The Hokies also held the Pirates to a meager 3-for-11 third-down conversion rate.

“We were moving the ball,” Carden said. “We just couldn’t finish drives, which is really unfortunate because the defense was playing great.”

East Carolina was going for its first 3-0 start since 2008, when the Pirates opened with a win against the Hokies in Charlotte followed by an upset of West Virginia. The Pirates had lost three straight to the Hokies and nine of 10 regular-season meetings with Atlantic Coast Conference opponents since that start.

ECU got a scare when cornerback Joshua Hawkins was carried off on a stretcher after suffering a concussion early in the third quarter. Hawkins — who motioned to the home crowd to get louder as he was carried off — was taken to an area hospital for observation and was released in the afternoon.