ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Vintavious Cooper ran for a career-high 198 yards and two touchdowns to lead East Carolina to 37-20 victory over Ohio in the sixth playing of the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl on Monday.
Cooper was named the game's most valuable player.
In their final game after 17 seasons as a member of Conference-USA, the Pirates scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away from the Bobcats.
Trailing 20-17, Cooper's 31-yard touchdown run with 9:45 remaining in the final quarter gave the Pirates a 24-20 lead and proved to be the difference. Cooper's run capped a five-play, 71-yard drive that was aided by personal foul and interference penalties on Ohio.
East Carolina (10-3, 6-2 CUSA) opened up a little breathing room when quarterback Shane Carden lateraled to receiver Cam Worthy, who threw back to Carden in the right side of the end zone. That touchdown extended the Pirates' lead to 31-20 with 7:29 remaining.
Cooper added a 22-yard scoring run with 1:55 left in the contest.
Josiah Yazdani's 28-yard field goal with 13:34 remaining in the fourth quarter gave Ohio (7-6, 4-4 Mid-American Conference) its only lead of the afternoon at 20-17.
It was Yazdani who brought the Bobcats even at 17-17 with 6:42 left in the third quarter. On its second possession of the second half Ohio chewed up nearly six minutes on a 17-play drive that yielded a 29-yard field goal by the redshirt sophomore.
It looked like East Carolina was going runaway from Ohio early. The Pirates opened the scoring by capitalizing on a Bobcats turnover. Five plays after safety Michael Dobson intercepted Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton at the East Carolina 45-yard line, Carden connected with Worthy on a 4-yard touchdown. The play was set up by Cooper's 34-yard run to the 4-yard line.
The Pirates took a 14-0 lead with 27 seconds remaining in the opening quarter when Breon Allen scored on a 2-yard run to cap an 11-play, 76-yard drive. East Carolina totaled 207 yards in the first quarter.
Ohio responded with touchdowns on its next two possessions. The Bobcats went 74 yards in 41 seconds and made it 14-7 when Tettleton connected with Daz' Patterson on a 17-yard touchdown. After forcing a punt, backup quarterback Derrius Vick came on for his second series of the half and hooked up with Donte Foster on an 80-yard touchdown pass to knot the score at 14-14. It was the longest play in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl's brief history.
Notes: QB Shane Carden became East Carolina's single-season leader in passing yards with 4,139. The previous mark was held Dominique Davis, who had 3,967 in 2010... With his third reception of the game, receiver Justin Hardy became the Pirates' career leader in receiving yards. The junior finished the season with 3,047...RB Vintavious Cooper's 34-yard run in the opening quarter put him over 1,000 for the season. He is the third East Carolina running back to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons...Ohio's Donte Foster established a Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl record with 160 receiving yards... QB Tyler Tettleton went over 10,000 total yards for his career at Ohio.