St. Petersburg, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Vintavious Cooper rushed for a career and bowl record 198 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns on 25 attempts, leading East Carolina to a 37-20 decision over Ohio in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.
Shane Carden threw for 273 yards and a score on 29-of-45 throws and also caught a TD pass for the Pirates (10-3), who reached double digits in wins for the second time in program history thanks to their first bowl victory since the 2007 Hawaii Bowl.
"Everybody came out and we executed the best way possible on each side of the ball," said Cooper, who was named the game's MVP. "The defense played tremendous as always and for us it is always to execute to the best of our ability."
Breon Allen added a rushing score, Justin Hardy recorded 66 yards on nine receptions and Cam Worthy added a touchdown grab for the victors from Conference USA.
Tyler Tettleton and Derrius Vick each threw a touchdown pass for the Bobcats (7-6). Tettleton finished 21-of-40 for 228 yards with a connection to Dazmond Patterson, while Vick found Donte Foster for an 80-yard strike.
Foster ended up with a game-high 160 yards on six catches in defeat.
Ohio could have gone up by six, but Josiah Yazdani failed to convert a 45-yard attempt, pushing it wide left with 11:08 to play, and East Carolina moved fast to take the lead for good on its next touch. A defensive pass interference call on an incompletion to Bryce Williams gave the Pirates the ball at the Bobcats' 31, and Cooper took the next snap into the end zone for a 24-20 Pirates edge.
The Bobcats failed to pick up a first down on their following series, then ECU gave itself some breathing room thanks to some trickery, when Carden outleaped a defender to come down with a Worthy pass and 14-yard score to make it 31-20 with 7:29 to play.
Tettleton was picked off on each of Ohio's next two touches, with the second leading to Cooper's 22-yard TD run that accounted for the final margin.
"We didn't panic," said ECU linebacker Derrell Johnson of his team's outlook in the fourth quarter. "We knew we were capable of winning. The coaches have done an excellent job to prepare."
East Carolina capitalized on its second drive as Carden hit Worthy for a 5- yard score, then took a 14-0 advantage with 27 seconds left in the opening quarter on a 2-yard scamper by Allen.
The Bobcats got on the board early in the second on Tettleton's 17-yard strike to Patterson, then tied the game on their next series when Vick found Foster behind the ECU defense for an 80-yard TD pass.
The Pirates led 17-14 at halftime, thanks to a 41-yard make from Warren Harvey.
Yazdani booted a 29-yarder and Ohio drew even on its second series of the second half, and he was good again from 28 yards away with 13:34 on the clock to give the Bobcats a 20-17 edge.