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By Fred Goodall | Associated Press
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Vinatavious Cooper rushed for a career-best 198 yards, setting a Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl record and leading East Carolina to a 37-20 victory over Ohio on Monday.
The Pirates (10-3) grabbed the lead for good on the first of Cooper's two touchdowns runs in the fourth quarter, a 31-yard burst with just under 10 minutes remaining.
East Carolina's Shane Carden threw for 273 yards and one TD and also scored on a pass reception.
Cam Worthy caught an early 5-yard scoring pass from Carden, and then took a lateral from the junior quarterback and threw 14 yards back to Carden for a fourth-quarter TD that made it 31-20. Cooper put it well out of reach, finding an opening off left tackle and racing 22 yards for his second TD.
Tyler Tettleton and Derrius Vick threw scoring passes for Ohio (7-6), which overcame an early two-touchdown deficit to lead 20-17 before Cooper put East Carolina back in front before an announced crowd of 20,053 at Tropicana Field.
Breon Allen also scored on a 2-yard run for East Carolina, which won six of its final seven games to finish with the second-most victories in school history.
Carden set the school record for single-season yards passing with a 13-yard throw to Isaiah Jones on the drive ended with Allen's TD, making it 14-0. He completed 29 of 45 passes while boosting his season total to 4,139 yards, breaking Dominique Davis' record total for the Pirates.
Cooper ran for 90 yards in the opening quarter alone, becoming the third running back in East Carolina history to rush for 1,000 in consecutive seasons.
Justin Hardy, meanwhile, had eight receptions for 59 yards, setting a school record for yards receiving in a season. He finished with nine catches, giving him 114 receptions for 1,284 yards.
Ohio shrugged off a slow start to get back in the game with Tettleton and Vick throwing touchdown passes within a span of five minutes to make it 14-all early in the second quarter.