BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- The lead changed hands four times after the Pirates (5-3, 4-1) drew first blood, with Carden tossing the winning score to Justin Hardy early in the fourth quarter.
East Carolina held leads of 10-0 and 13-7, but fell into a 21-13 hole when Austin Brown found Sam Accursio for a 4-yard passing touchdown midway through the third.
Vintavious Cooper cut the lead to 21-20 with a 1-yard touchdown run, and then Carden hit Cooper for a 30-yard touchdown pass to vault the Pirates ahead.
The Blazers (1-6, 0-3) regained the lead when Brown found Kennard Backman for a 9-yard score, but then yielded consecutive Pirates' touchdowns -- including Carden's pass to Hardy -- and couldn't overtake the lead again.
Carden finished 23-of-35 passing with two scores