Kelly Lowery threw for three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 5:59 left, and Greg Allen scored three times to help the seventh-ranked Seminoles rally at home.
Cornerback Eric Riley made the key play to set up the Seminoles' go-ahead touchdown, then recovered a fumble moments later to ensure the victory. After Riley intercepted a deflected pass from Kevin Ingram at the Pirates' 21, Lowery threw a five-yard pass to Tom Wheeler for the score. Lowery was 28 of 35 for 322 yards.
With 3:39 left, Riley grabbed the ball from Ingram's hands after Ingram had gained 36 yards to the Florida State 31. East Carolina Coach Ed Emory insisted that Ingram already had been downed.
"I just want to say that this game is an embarrassment to the state of Florida, Florida State and to the great program of Coach (Bobby) Bowden," Emory said. He added, "The game was tremendously important to us in terms of what it could have done for our program, but it's over and we must get ready for our next game."
Allen rushed for 154 yards in 33 carries and scored on runs of one, two and 10 yards.
Henry Williams returned a kickoff 99 yards for one touchdown and a punt 56 yards for another for East Carolina. The 93 points scored by the schools broke a Florida State record of 87 set in a 56-31 victory over Western Carolina in 1981.