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Appalachian State goes to 10-1; Tar Heels roll past Mercer

College football roundup

North Carolina’s Michael Carter (8) carries the ball as Mercer’s Eric Jackson (7) attempts a tackle during an NCAA college football game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

BOONE (AP) — Darrynton Evans was recruited to Appalachian State as a slot receiver.

He’s carved out a pretty solid niche at tailback.

Evans ran for 154 yards and three second-half touchdowns and No. 23 Appalachian State avoided another home upset with a big second half to beat Texas State 35-13 on a rain-soaked Saturday.

The victory, combined with Arkansas State’s 38-33 win over Georgia Southern, guarantees the Mountaineers (10-1, 6-1 Sun Belt) a spot in the Sun Belt Conference championship game on Dec. 7 for the second straight season.

Evans has eclipsed 1,150 yards rushing in each of the past two seasons and needs 14 yards to break into the top 10 in school history in rushing.

Coach Eli Drinkwitz is glad the previous coaching staff made that move.

“He’s an elite tailback, obviously,” Drinkwitz said. “To me, he’s one of the most dynamic players in college football because of his speed and return ability, and we’re very fortunate to have him. I’ve been blessed to be around some really good running backs. Five of them have been drafted, and he’s right there with all of them, for sure.”

Evans said he isn’t surprised by his success because he played running back in high school.

“At times I had other people who could play running back, so I would move to slot,” said Evans, who was moved to tailback in 2016 after the Mountaineers sustained some injuries at that position.

Quarterback Zac Thomas threw for 174 yards and two touchdowns to help the Mountaineers improve to 30-6 at home since becoming an FBS team in 2014.

Texas State entered the game as a 30 1/2-point underdog, but trailed only 14-13 midway through the third quarter, and most fans at Kidd Brewer Stadium were probably thinking about Georgia Southern’s 24-21 upset over then-20th-ranked App State three weeks ago on this same field.

But linebacker Noel Cook turned the momentum when he intercepted a tipped pass in Texas State territory, setting up a 13-yard TD run around right end by Evans. Evans would add touchdown runs of 10 and 13 yards to give 14 TDs on the season.

“That was huge momentum boost for our team and then we were able to finish them off,” Drinkwitz said.

Tyler Vitt threw for 154 yards and a touchdown for Texas State (3-8, 2-5).

•••

UNC 56, MERCER 7

CHAPEL HILL (AP) — Sam Howell and North Carolina didn’t have to battle to a frantic, drama-filled finish this time.

No, the Tar Heels took care of Saturday’s game by halftime in a performance that their Hall of Fame coach called “exactly what we needed.”

Howell threw for three first-half scores to set a single-season record for the most TD throws by a true freshman in Bowl Subdivision history as UNC beat Mercer 56-7 in its home finale.

Howell completed 10 of 13 passes for 152 yards and scores of 66, 4 and 33 yards in a dominating opening half for the Tar Heels (5-6), who led 42-0 by halftime.

“The afternoon and night was exactly what we needed,” UNC coach Mack Brown said. “We dominated the game. Our guys were ready to play. They took the game over early. The game was over at halftime, so we got to play basically everybody who was eligible on our team, which helps morale. And we didn’t get anybody hurt. So it was the perfect night for us.”

Howell now has 32 TD throws on the year to surpass Trevor Lawrence’s 30 for eventual national champion Clemson last year as the most by a true freshman in FBS history, according to Sportradar.

Howell’s TD total also broke the program’s single-season record for any player (30) set by eventual No. 2 overall NFL draft pick Mitch Trubisky in 2016. He didn’t play after halftime.

Tyray Devezin ran for 53 yards for the Bears (4-8), allowing him to crack the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

•••

NO. 2 OHIO STATE BEATS NO. 9 PENN STATE TO TAKE BIG TEN EAST

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — J.K. Dobbins rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns and No. 2 Ohio State locked up the Big Ten East title Saturday, surviving its first real test of the season with a 28-17 victory over No. 9 Penn State.

The Buckeyes held on after Penn State (9-2, 7-2) took advantage of two second-half turnovers to climb back into the game in the third quarter after going down 21-0. This was a far different scenario for Ohio State, which blew out its first 10 opponents.

The Buckeyes (10-0, 8-0 Big Ten) were clinging to a 21-17 lead early in the fourth quarter when Justin Fields threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Chris Olave to create some breathing room.

•••

NO. 4 GEORGIA 19, NO. 24 TEXAS A&M 13

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — George Pickens scored Georgia’s only touchdown, Rodrigo Blankenship booted four field goals and the defense stymied Texas A&M.

Georgia (10-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 4 CFP) wrapped up its conference schedule and stayed on course to make a run at the College Football Playoff.

While the Bulldogs struggled offensively, the defense turned in another dominating performance. Texas A&M (7-4, 4-3) was held to just minus-1 yards rushing and 274 yards overall, one week after piling up 319 yards on the ground in a rout of South Carolina.

•••

NO. 5 ALABAMA 66, WESTERN CAROLINA 3

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Mac Jones passed for 275 yards and three touchdowns in little more than a half and Alabama began life without Tua Tagovailoa with a romp over Western Carolina.

With Tagovailoa watching much of the game from a cart behind the bench, the Crimson Tide (10-1) treated its injured quarterback to a one-sided show against the Catamounts (3-9). Alabama is ranked fifth in the College Football Playoff rankings and hoping to somehow make the field despite failing to win the SEC West.

This one was about taking care of business five days after Tagovailoa underwent surgery on his right hip. It wasn’t the type of game for impressing the selection committee.

•••

NO. 11 MINNESOTA 38, NORTHWESTERN 22

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Tanner Morgan led Minnesota to scores on its first three possessions and finished with four touchdown passes, and the Gophers bounced back from their first loss of the season.

The Gophers (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten, No. 10 CFP), who lost at Iowa last week, strengthened their grip on first place in the West Division.

•••

NO. 12 MICHIGAN 39, INDIANA 14

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Shea Patterson threw five touchdown passes and Nico Collins scored a career-high three times for Michigan.

The Wolverines (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten, No. 13 CFP) have won four straight overall and 24 straight in the series since 1987.

Patterson was 20 of 32 with 366 yards and one interception.

•••

NO. 1 LSU 56, ARKANSAS 20

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Joe Burrow passed for 327 yards and three touchdowns, Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for a career-high 188 yards and three TDs and No. 1 LSU clinched its first trip since to the Southeastern Conference championship game since 2011 with a 56-20 victory over reeling Arkansas on Saturday night.

LSU (11-0, 7-0) can finish no worse than a tie for first with Alabama (10-1, 6-1) and owns the tiebreaker by virtue of the Tigers’ 46-41 triumph in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9.

Burrow’s first touchdown was a 37-yarder on the game’s first possession to Ja’Marr Chase, and the two connected on a 50-yarder in the third quarter on which Burrow eclipsed 4,000 yards for the season and Chase increased in single-season LSU record for TD catches to 15.

Burrow’s other touchdown toss came on a short crossing route to Justin Jefferson, who ran the last few yards of the 10-yard scoring play.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire scored on runs of 89, 27 and 26 yards, each time leaving at least one defensive back grasping at air, to give him 14 TDs rushing this season. His 89-yard run was a career-long on which he would not be denied; he was caught from behind but used a high-step to slip the tackle before resuming his gallop to the goal line as the Tiger Stadium crowd roared for a Baton Rouge native having a career night.

Interim coach Barry Lunney Jr. started freshman quarterback KJ Jefferson, who exhibited potential and athleticism, if not consistency. Jefferson, the fourth starting QB for the Razorbacks this season, completed 7 of 14 for 105 yards without a turnover. He was also looked effective rushing at times, but his total in that department was skewed by three sacks.

Blitzing LSU defensive back Jacoby Stevens dragged down Jefferson all three times and also batted a pass right back at him, which Jefferson caught for a completion to himself, albeit for a loss of 8 when Stevens immediately smothered him.

The Razorbacks (2-9, 0-7), who’ve lost eight straight, were as close as 7-6 in the second quarter after Jefferson led them to their second field goal — a 47-yarder by Connor Limpert.

That’s when LSU, which had stalled on its second and third possessions, began to pull away. Burrow completed four quick passes for 66 yards to set up Tyrion Davis-Price’s 2-yard touchdown to make it 14-6. By halftime, the Tigers led 28-6.

LSU led 56-6 on John Emery’s 39-yard run before Arkansas scored two late touchdowns, the second coming after an onside kick that squirted to the LSU 11 before the Razorbacks recovered.

THE TAKEAWAY

Arkansas: Lunney had the Hogs energized and playing hard throughout. They lost by less than the six-TD spread set by Las Vegas odds makers. Meanwhile, Jefferson was making a solid case to keep the starting job another week but left the game after taking a hard hit as he threw.

LSU: Burrow, a front-running candidate for the Heisman Trophy, continued building his credentials for college football’s most prestigious award. He completed 82 percent of his passes against Arkansas and now has 4,014 yards and 41 TDs passing this season, both LSU single-season records. Edwards-Helaire has been virtually unstoppable in LSU’s past four games, during which he’s piled up 814 yards (599 rushing, 215 receiving) and nine TDs (eight rushing) from scrimmage.

NO. 14 WISCONSIN 45, PURDUE 24

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Jonathan Taylor ran for 222 yards — the 12th time he has at least 200 in his career —and a touchdown for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten, No. 12 CFP)extended its winning streak over the Boilermakers to 14 games. Jack Coan completed 15 of 19 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns against one interception.

The Boilermakers (4-7, 3-5) dropped their seventh straight at Camp Randall Stadium and failed to qualify for a bowl game. Aidan O’Connell finished with a career-high 289 yards passing with two scores.

NO. 15 NOTRE DAME 40, BOSTON COLLEGE 7

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Ian Book threw three touchdown passes and Notre Dame corralled Boston College star running back AJ Dillon.

The fourth straight victory by the Fighting Irish (9-2, No. 15 CFP) completed their second straight unbeaten season (7-0) at Notre Dame Stadium, where they have won 18 straight. But for the second straight week, the stadium was not filled after a streak of 273 sellouts since 1973. The announced crowd of 71,827 was 5,795 short of capacity.

Leading 16-7 at halftime thanks to Jonathan Doerer’s field goals of 47, 20 and 45 yards, the Irish scored 17 points in the third quarter to bury the Eagles (5-6). Dillon, a 250-pound junior who had 1,451 yards entering the game, was held to 56 yards on 14 carries.

NO. 16 AUBURN 52, SAMFORD 0

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn held Samford to 114 yards and forced four turnovers, JaTarvious Whitlow scored twice and the Tigers tuned up for the Iron Bowl against Alabama with a rain-drenched rout.

Auburn (8-3) forced and recovered a fumble on a fourth-and-4 on Samford’s opening drive, the first of three turnovers and a trio of three-and-outs across Samford’s first six possessions. The Tigers had 13 tackles for loss and held Samford to 2 yards per play, 2 of 13 on third down as Auburn’s defensive starters were benched a few minutes into the third quarter.

Samford (5-7) had scored in 213 straight games.

As the rain increased, so, too, did Auburn’s offensive production. After a seven-point first quarter in which they struggled to convert third downs and had a 43-yard field goal blocked, the Tigers had 193 yards of offense and 24 points in the second. Whitlow and D.J. Williams accounted for 130 yards from scrimmage in the first half and Williams added his second touchdown of the season in the third quarter.

After completing 15 of 23 passes for 150 yards and a score, Bo Nix’s day also was done early in the third quarter.

NO. 17 CINCINNATI 15, TEMPLE 13

CINCINNATI (AP) — Michael Warren II ran 13 yards for a touchdown on a cold, raw night, Coby Bryant went 98 yards with a blocked extra-point attempt and Cincinnati clinched a spot in the American Athletic title game.

The Bearcats (10-1, 7-0) secured the AAC East title and remained the only unbeaten team in league play. They would host the title game if they win next week at No. 18 Memphis, which shares the AAC West lead.

Temple (7-4, 4-3) had won four straight against Cincinnati with its dominant defense, but couldn’t get enough out of its offense until too late on a windy, rainy night with temperatures in the 30s and snow falling in the closing minutes.

Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder played despite a sore passing shoulder and was only 9 of 25 for 62 yards. Warren finished with 106 yards rushing.

NO. 18 MEMPHIS 49, SOUTH FLORIDA 10

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Brady White threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns and Memphis shrugged off two early turnovers to beat South Florida and retain a share of first place in the American Athletic Conference West Division.

The Tigers (10-1, 6-1, No. 18 CFP) have won five straight since their only loss, at Temple, and they can clinch a third straight appearance in the AAC championship game with a home win over No. 17 Cincinnati next week.

White had two passes intercepted twice in the first half when USF (4-7, 2-5) led 10-7. The graduate transfer settled in and took control of the game with help from a bevy of playmakers.

Memphis rushed for 325 yards, with Patrick Taylor gaining 95 on 17 attempts and scoring on runs of 3, 5 and 10 yards. Leading rusher Kenneth Gainwell averaged 9 yards a carry and finished with 128.

NO. 19 IOWA 19, ILLINOIS 10

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Nate Stanley threw for 308 yards and Keith Duncan kicked four field goals to set a Big Ten-season mark in Iowa’s victory over Illinois.

The Hawkeyes (8-3, 5-3 Big Ten) also forced three turnovers against the team that came into the game leading the nation in turnover margin. Brandon Peters had two passes intercepted and a lost a fourth-quarter fumble for the Illini (6-5, 4-4).

Iowa held Illinois to its lowest point total of the season, a week after doing the same thing to Minnesota. Illinois had 198 rushing yards and held the Hawkeyes to 79 rushing yards on 32 carries. The Illini got into Iowa territory on three consecutive possessions in the second half, but only got a field goal.

Duncan had field goals of 23, 45, 24 and 29 yards to make it 27 this season for the conference record.

NAVY 35, NO. 21 SMU 28

ANNAPOLS, Md. (AP) —Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry generated 357 yards of total offense and scored the winning touchdown.

Perry found a seam and scampered 70 yards with just over 6 minutes remaining to break a tie. He finished with 195 yards on 38 carries with two touchdowns on the ground and completed 9 of 15 passes for 162 yards and another score.

The Midshipmen (8-2, 6-1) still have a shot at the West Division crown of the American Athletic Conference should No. 18 Memphis falter down the stretch. The Tigers own the tiebreaker by virtue of their 35-23 victory over Navy on Sept. 26.

CJ Sanders had a 100-yard kickoff return for SMU (9-2, 5-2), tying the longest in the 60-year history of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

NO. 22 OKLAHOMA STATE 20, WEST VIRGINIA 12

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Dru Brown threw two touchdown passes in his first start, Chuba Hubbard surpassed 100 yards rushing for the ninth consecutive game and Oklahoma State beat West Virginia.

Brown and national rushing leader Hubbard generated just enough offense to help the Cowboys (8-3, 5-3 Big 12, No. 21 CFP) win their fourth straight game. Hubbard ran 26 times for 106 yards, far below his 173-yard average, but he showed off his receiving skills.

He took a screen pass and ran 46 yards to set up Oklahoma State’s first touchdown. Hubbard finished with seven catches for 88 yards, both career highs. Hubbard entered the game with 82 receiving yards all season.

West Virginia dropped to 2-6 in the Big 12 and 4-7 overall.

NO. 25 VIRGINIA TECH 28, PITTSBURGH 0

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Hendon Hooker threw for 153 yards and two touchdowns to lead Virginia Tech.

Hooker threw touchdown passes to Tré Turner and Damon Hazelton, and Virginia Tech’s defense scored on a fumble return. The Hokies (8-3, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) set up a showdown next weekend with Virginia, with the victor claiming the ACC’s Coastal Division title.

Pittsburgh (7-4, 4-3 ACC) had a season-low 177 yards.

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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