Duke 21

(0-1, 0-1 away)

East Carolina 24

(1-0, 1-0 home)

1:00 PM ET, September 3, 2005

Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC

1 2 3 4 T
DUKE 7 7 0 721
ECU 14 3 7 024

Top Performers

Passing: J. Pinkney (ECU) - 235 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: J. Boyle (DUKE) - 19 CAR, 53 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: A. Allison (ECU) - 10 REC, 163 YDS, 1 TD

East Carolina 24, Duke 21

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- James Pinkney ran for two touchdowns and threw for a score Saturday to help East Carolina beat Duke 24-21 in Skip Holtz's debut as Pirates coach.

Aundrae Allison had 10 catches for 163 yards and a score for the Pirates, who won their season opener for the first time since beating Duke 38-0 in 2000. Zach Baker added two interceptions and a fumble recovery to lead a solid defensive effort that made the Blue Devils work for every yard.

Justin Boyle ran for two touchdowns for the Blue Devils, who have not won an opener on the road in 17 years. Ronnie Drummer added a 100-yard kickoff return for a score.

Holtz had spent the past six seasons as an assistant to his father, Lou, at South Carolina, and is charged with resurrecting East Carolina's once-proud program.

The Pirates boasted a top-10 ranking in 1991 and has 12 bowl appearances, but has been in a steady decline ever since blowing a 30-point halftime lead in a 64-61 double-overtime loss to Marshall in the 2001 GMAC Bowl.

Going back to the final two games of the 2002 season, East Carolina has lost 22 of 25 games. Nineteen losses have come by double-digit margins, with seven by at least 33 points. Those struggles led to the resignation of John Thompson, who won just three games in two seasons.

The change paid immediate dividends for a program in desperate need of success.

The Pirates got a 45-yard return on the opening kickoff by Markeith McQueen, a 52-yard punt return by Travis Williams to set up their first touchdown and a series of big plays from Pinkney and Allison throughout to stay in front most of the way.

But most important was the play of East Carolina's defense, a unit that gave up nearly 40 points per game last season.

Baker led that effort. The senior safety recovered a botched handoff between Mike Schneider and Boyle inside ECU's 15 in the second quarter, then intercepted a deflected pass from Schneider to Ronnie Elliott inside the goal line in the third.

In the final period, with the Pirates protecting a three-point lead, he drove in front of Andy Roland and intercepted a pass from Schneider with less than five minutes left.

That kind of effort was more than enough for the offense, which got a steady performance from Pinkney. Pinkney completed 17 of 21 passes for 236 yards, standing in the pocket and taking several hits while delivering a pass to move the chains.

As the final seconds ticked off, players doused Holtz with a cooler of ice water, then celebrated with their coach near midfield.

Pinkney got the Pirates on the board with a 1-yard sneak for a 7-0 lead, then connected with Allison for a 50-yard score down the left sideline for a 14-7 lead midway through the first quarter.

After Boyle tied it with a 1-yard run, the Pirates went ahead to stay on a 32-yard field goal from Robert Lee for a 17-14 halftime edge. East Carolina pushed that lead to 24-14 on a second sneak from Pinkney.

Boyle's second short TD run early in the fourth cut the deficit to 24-21, but the Blue Devils got no closer. Pierre Parker sealed it with an interception with 1:16 left, sending the Pirates' sideline into celebration.