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Cards shred maligned ECU defense

AP Sports Writer

GAME 4 VITALS: East Carolina at Louisville

 • Box Score & Statistics
 • AP: Cards shred maligned ECU defense
 • O'Brien: Emotional tank running low for Pirates
  Post-Game Audio: Thompson & players
 • 2004 ECU schedule, scores, attendance, TV
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LOUISVILLE — Eric Shelton transferred to Louisville from Florida State just so he could have games like this.

The junior ran for 129 yards and tied a Louisville record with five touchdowns on the ground Saturday to lead the No. 22 Cardinals to a 59-7 win over East Carolina.

``I haven't done that in a long time,'' said Shelton. ``I was not expecting it, but five touchdowns are great.''

Shelton was a highly touted prep prospect out of Bryan Station High School in Lexington. He chose the Seminoles, but quickly soured with his limited role and looked for a place where he could be the star runner. He chose Louisville, one of the schools that had recruited him.

``When I came here three years ago, my goal was to give them a running game,'' Shelton said.

Shelton now has 18 touchdowns on the ground as a Cardinal, already ninth on the school list. He had three touchdowns in a 34-0 win over North Carolina last week and on Saturday he topped 100 yards for the fifth time in 14 games with Louisville.

``Eric is running the ball really well right now,'' said Louisville coach Bobby Petrino. ``He's gotten a lot of touches in the last two games and he's made the most of it.''

Louisville (4-0, 2-0 Conference USA) piled up 549 yards overall on the nation's second-worst defense and reached 40 points for the seventh time in 17 games under Petrino, who's in his second season.

The Cardinals, third in the nation in scoring defense, forced five turnovers and converted three into touchdowns in their last tuneup before an Oct. 14 date with fourth-ranked Miami.

Petrino was already thinking about the Hurricanes after Saturday's victory, asking reporters if they knew the outcome of Miami's game with Georgia Tech.

``We're excited about playing them,'' Petrino said. ``I came here to coach in games like this and our players came here to play in games like this.''

James Pinkney went 13-of-23 for 126 yards with two interceptions for the Pirates (0-4, 0-1), who have lost nine straight games and 17 of their last 18.

``As long as you keep trying, you're not a failure. That's the only thing you can say,'' said second-year East Carolina coach John Thompson. ``You can put numbers and records on it, but that doesn't talk about your soul or what kind of a man you are.''

Shelton asserted himself against the country's most porous rushing defense midway through the first quarter. On the second play of Louisville's second possession, Shelton found a hole up the middle and outran East Carolina's secondary for a 67-yard touchdown.

``It was a simple zone play,'' Shelton said. ``I broke one or two tackles and then I just took off.''

The Cardinals were on the move again early in the second quarter, but Michael Bush fumbled at the Pirates' 38. Three minutes later, Pinkney threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Sean Harmon.

Other than Shelton's long run, the Cardinals' offense sputtered early.

``I don't think we were sluggish. They just kind of slowed us down,'' said Bush. ``We just had to get our bearings.''

Petrino replaced senior quarterback Stefan LeFors with freshman Brian Brohm, a move he's made in the first half of every game this season. This time, Brohm was a catalyst. He went 3-for-3 on a nine-play scoring drive, which Shelton finished with a 1-yard TD run.

Montrell Jones returned an East Carolina punt 54 yards to set up Shelton's third TD run, a 3-yarder, midway through the second quarter.

Pinkney fumbled on the second play of the second half, and Shelton ended a three-play Louisville drive with another 1-yard touchdown run. Shelton tied the single-game school record for rushing touchdowns on a 39-yard sweep midway through the third quarter.

The Cardinals have outscored opponents 70-7 in the third quarter this season.

02/23/2007 10:53 AM

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. contributed to this report.  All rights reserved.  This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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