GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Brandon Jackson and Dominique Lindsay each had first-half touchdown runs to help East Carolina build a big lead and then hold off a late rally from Appalachian State to win 29-24 on Saturday.
Jackson sat out last year after transferring from Kentucky, but scored on a 39-yard run on his first carry for a 7-0 lead less than 2 minutes into the game. Lindsay later scored on a 21-yard run to give the Pirates a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter.
But the Mountaineers suddenly came alive in the third quarter behind reserve quarterback Travaris Cadet, who directed three second-half scoring drives and got the ball back with 1:28 left and a chance for the win. But Cadet took a costly sack after Appalachian State had driven near midfield, and his fourth-down pass fell incomplete to seal the Pirates' win with 16 seconds left.
Edwards, named the top player in FCS last year, is still recovering from a foot injury sustained in a lawnmower accident at his off-campus residence last month. He watched from the sideline as sophomore DeAndre Presley got the start, then gave way to Cadet after it seemed the Pirates were on their way to an easy win.
For the Pirates, it had to be a frustrating way to win their third season opener in five tries under Skip Holtz. They looked downright dominant in the first half, showing off a deep backfield that helped the Pirates to 189 yards rushing on the day while the defense seemed to overpower the Mountaineers.
The Pirates scored on their first three drives and led 24-0 before the Mountaineers even managed a first down.
Jackson, who sat out last year after transferring from Kentucky, scored on a 39-yard sprint on his first carry for the 7-0 lead less than 2 minutes into the game. Lindsay later skipped through the line for a 21-yard touchdown to make it 24-0 on the way to 105 yards rushing on the day.
But quarterback Patrick Pinkney wasn't sharp, throwing for just 131 yards and two interceptions. And, eventually, the Mountaineers finally started getting some stops to give their offense a chance to build some needed momentum. Devon Moore scored from a yard out early in the fourth, then Cadet capped a drive with a short touchdown run that made it 29-21 with 8:41 to play.
Jason Vitaris added a 43-yard field goal with 3:24 left, then Appalachian State forced a three-and-out on East Carolina's next possession to set up the frantic final drive.