State football roundup: Heels, Deacs win

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 3, 2021

Associated Press

CHAPEL HILL — Sam Howell threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns and North Carolina topped Duke 38-7 on Saturday, keeping hold of the coveted Victory Bell for a third straight year.

“Really, really proud of our guys,” UNC coach Mack Brown said. “People better hang on because we’re going to keep getting better. The program is getting better. We saw signs of it on defense today. And now we just got to get our offense to continue to grow as well.”

The Tar Heels (3-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) jumped ahead with a pair of explosive plays in the first half.

Howell connected with running back Ty Chandler down the sideline for a 75-yard score to open the scoring. Less than two minutes later, Kevin Hester hit Duke’s Gunnar Holmberg as he was throwing, causing the ball to flutter out of his hand and Trey Morrison returned the fumble 63 yards for a touchdown.

Allowing the scoop-and-score epitomized a frustrating performance for Duke (3-2, 0-1 ACC). The Blue Devils punted nine times, turned the ball over twice and converted just 2 of 15 third downs.

Duke scored its lone points on an 80-yard catch-and-run by Jalon Calhoun in the third quarter. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Blue Devils.

“We’ll learn from this, but we’ll put this behind us quickly in our preparation,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said. “The difference in the game, to some degree, was their explosives vs. our explosives.”

UNC put the game away in the fourth quarter when Howell found receiver Josh Downs for a 63-yard score. It was another big play in a game littered with them. Downs was targeted by Howell 13 times Saturday, and it was the fifth straight game that he has hauled in eight catches. Brown called Downs “one of the best receivers in the country.”

“He’s an unbelievable player. Even if (Downs) drops the ball, I’m going to keep going to him,” Howell said. “He’s only getting better.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Duke: ACC leading rusher Mataeo Durant ran for 114 yards, but the Blue Devils were otherwise mostly ineffective offensively. Duke entered this game with one of the nation’s top scoring attacks — averaging 38.8 points per-game — but were stifled by a stingy UNC defense.

UNC: The Tar Heels can be successful on offense when their line protects Howell. UNC has allowed 22 sacks this season, the most in the ACC, and against Duke they tried three different players at center. But when Howell has the space to operate, he looks like the Heisman candidate he was hyped up as being in the preseason. Howell is now second in the ACC — and among the top 10 in the nation — in points-responsible for this season with 104.

DEFENSE IMPRESSES MACK

UNC hasn’t held a team to seven points or less since its 2020 season opener, a 31-6 victory over Syracuse. This season, the Tar Heels had been allowing 29.5 points per-game before its meeting with Duke. After the game, Brown had nothing but praise for the defensive unit.

“We played our best defense of the year, and maybe since we’ve been here, and I was really proud of those guys,” Brown said. “I thought the defensive front was dominant, but I also feel like (Cam’Ron Kelly) played well today.”

Kelly, a junior defensive back, led UNC in tackles with seven and also had an interception. The Tar Heels also tallied five sacks and an additional six hits on Duke’s quarterback.

COMFORTABLE IN KENAN

Since Brown returned to coach the Tar Heels before the 2019 season, UNC has only lost four times at home. In front of Saturday’s announced crowd of 45,812 fans, Brown extended his winning streak against Duke to 11 games, a run that dates back to his first stint as the Tar Heels’ head coach.

NEXT UP

Duke: The Blue Devils return to Durham next Saturday to host Georgia Tech.

UNC: The Tar Heels will look for another win in ACC play next Saturday, hosting struggling Florida State.

Sciba’s kick lifts No. 24 Wake Forest past Louisville, 37-34

WINSTON-SALEM (AP) — Nick Sciba was ready when Wake Forest set him up with the shot at a winning field goal. He capitalized, just like the rest of these 24th-ranked Demon Deacons sitting atop the Atlantic Coast Conference race.

Sciba hit from 29 yards with 22 seconds left to help Wake Forest beat Louisville 37-34 on Saturday, keeping the Demon Deacons unbeaten while ending a two-game skid against the Cardinals.

Sam Hartman threw for 324 yards and two touchdowns to lead the offense for the Demon Deacons (5-0, 3-0), who got a huge boost late from Justice Ellison with several chain-moving runs on the go-ahead drive.

They had won each of their first four games by comfortable margins, but handled a close game just fine.

“We expect to go the distance with almost every team we play,” said receiver Taylor Morin, who had six catches for 122 yards and a 42-yard touchdown. “I think that mentality and that type of preparation pays off.”

On the last drive, Ellison ran seven times for 41 yards. And Hartman connected with Jaquarii Roberson (six catches for 135 yards) on third down for 12 yards to keep the Demon Deacons moving to give Sciba his shot — on his 22nd birthday, no less.

“Of course I want us to do our best possible, and that would’ve been getting in the end zone,” Sciba said. “So I was obviously cheering for that. But I was just staying ready in case my number was called, and it was. And luckily I made it.”

Louisville (3-2, 1-1) got a final drive with no timeouts, but the Cardinals’ desperate, lateral-filled play never got across midfield before Wake Forest’s Rondell Bothroyd recovered the loose ball to end it.

Malik Cunningham had a big day for the Cardinals, throwing for 332 yards and two scores while running for two additional TDs. Louisville rallied from a 27-17 deficit entering the fourth quarter and 34-27 late, with Cunningham making his biggest throw in a frenetic final few minutes that had seen Wake Forest take a 34-27 lead on Hartman’s 7-yard throw to A.T. Perry with 3:52 left.

Cunningham went over the middle to Tyler Harrell, who turned the corner and down the left sideline, breaking away from four black jerseys in pursuit for a 75-yard touchdown that tied the game at 34 with 3:01 left.

“We made some plays,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. “We still left some plays out there on the field.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Louisville: The Cardinals hadn’t lost since the season opener against Mississippi and were coming off a win at Florida State to open league play. They had won the past two meetings in the series, including a 62-59 shootout here two years ago against a 5-0 Wake Forest team. Cunningham helped Louisville to 540 total yards, but the Cardinals burned through their timeouts on Wake Forest’s final drive and didn’t have much of a chance to respond to Sciba’s winner.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons hopped into the AP Top 25 poll after a fourth 4-0 start in six seasons, and they entered October as the only team with multiple league wins. This marks Wake Forest’s first 3-0 start in league play since 2011, putting them atop the league’s shaken-up Atlantic Division race now that six-time reigning league champion Clemson has an early loss and No. 23 North Carolina State is the league’s highest-ranked team.

CLOCK MANAGEMENT

There was a critical sequence right before halftime that is sure to remain a topic of conversation for the Cardinals.

Facing a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 4 seconds left, Wake Forest’s Christian Beal-Smith ran for no gain. Louisville’s sideline began celebrating and heading toward the locker room thinking the half was over, but officials ruled Wake Forest had called timeout with 1 second left.

That stood on review, and Sciba kicked a 20-yard field goal for the 20-17 halftime lead. That had Satterfield shrugging his arms in frustration as he headed toward the tunnel.

“That was unfortunate,” Satterfield said. “I hate that. We’ll go back and look at it. But even at that, we had opportunities and chances to make plays.”

Coach Dave Clawson said said his Demon Deacons “got a little bit lucky.”

“Sometimes luck helps,” he said. “And you look back, those three points were as important as the last three points.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Demon Deacons keep winning, and that should keep them at least holding their position if not inching up the rankings.

UP NEXT

Louisville: The Cardinals return home to face Virginia next Saturday in a cross-divisional league matchup.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons stay in division play when they visit Syracuse next Saturday.

Appalachian St uses explosive plays to sink Georgia St 45-16

ATLANTA (AP) — Chase Brice threw three touchdown passes and Appalachian State dominated the second half in a 45-16 win over Georgia State in the Sun Belt Conference opener on Saturday.

Brice was 20-for-28 passing for 326 yards, two big chunks when he hit Corey Sutton for 79 yards in the third quarter and Christian Wells for 80 in the fourth.

Those one-play drives highlighted a string of five-straight scoring possessions that turned a 14-6 halftime lead into 45-9 after 31-straight points.

The Mountaineers (4-1) improved to 50-9 since joining the Sun Belt Conference and are 8-0 all-time against the Panthers (1-4).

Appalachian State had 304 of its total 502 yards after the break, even with leading rusher Nate Noel not playing in the second half. Noel had 74 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown in the first half. Sutton caught four balls for 106 yards.

Georgia State freshman Tailique Williams scored his first career touchdown on a 66-yard catch-and-run to close the scoring. The Panthers had 380 yards of offense but had three turnovers and lost two defenders on targeting calls in the second half.

Chase Brown’s 257 yards, 2 TDs leads Illinois past Charlotte

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Chase Brown rushed for 257 yards and two touchdowns and Illinois beat Charlotte 24-14 on Saturday.

It stands as the fourth best single-game rushing performance in Illinois history. His 80-yard scoring run as time expired in the third quarter was the longest run of the year for Illinois (2-4). The last Illini to rush for more than 200 yards in a game was Reggie Corbin, who ran for 213 yards against Minnesota in 2018.

“You really saw the skill set Chase Brown has,” Illinois coach Bret Bielema said. “He’s something.”

Brandon Peters was 10 of 19 passing for 78 yards and one touchdown for the Illini. Josh McCray rushed 16 times for 64 yards. Daniel Barker caught one pass for 10 yards and a touchdown.

“For Brandon, I think we can say it was a step forward for him,” Bielema said. “Overall, it was a step forward for the whole team. But we have to play Big Ten football and we’re not there yet.”

Chris Reynolds was 17 of 23 passing for 191 yards and two touchdowns for Charlotte (3-2).

Calvin Camp rushed seven times for 29 yards for the 49ers. Victor Tucker caught five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, and Grant DuBose caught four passes for 70 yards. Elijah Spencer caught two passes for 34 yards and a touchdown.

“I’m disappointed,” Charlotte coach Will Healy said. “Call me crazy, but I fully expected to win the game when we came in today. I believe we had plenty of opportunities to do it, and we didn’t get it done.”

POWER RUNNING

Illinois outgained Charlotte on the ground 336 yards to 72.

Bielema was known for nurturing a hard-nosed running attack during his successful tenure at Wisconsin, and Saturday’s game was the first indication of that at Illinois.

“I mean, we have some things to clean up,” Bielema said. “But overall, I thought it was encouraging.”

Illinois’ two touchdowns in the second half both were on Brown runs, a 32-yard score midway through the third quarter and his 80-yard scamper as time expired in the third quarter.

AIR ATTACK

Illinois scored first on a 29-yard James McCourt field goal midway through the first quarter after a 17-play opening drive for the Illini. Charlotte answered with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Reynolds to Tucker with 1:31 left in the first quarter.

Illinois scored late in the second quarter with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Peters to Barker to make the score 10-7 Illinois.

Charlotte then drove 66 yards on 6 plays and scored on a 22-yard pass from Reynolds to Spencer to lead 14-10 at the half.

Coming into the game, Reynolds had thrown for nine touchdowns, 16th most in the nation.

“We have a long season ahead of us,” Reynolds said. “You can’t let something like this hurt you for the rest of the year. We have a lot of opportunities in front of us.”

HE SAID IT

Coach Bielema: “I told the guys in the locker room to enjoy the moment, hug your mom and all that stuff, and then let’s get busy because we have to win some Big Ten games now.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Illinois needed a win after a fairly disastrous start to the season. And while it was against a program that didn’t even play football before 2013, Bielema will take it.

Charlotte played with poise against its first Big Ten opponent and coach Healy has to be proud of his squad for its balanced play .

UP NEXT

Charlotte: At FIU on Friday night.

Illinois: Hosts conference rival Wisconsin on Oct. 9.

Copeland’s 3TDs lead Chattanooga past Western Carolina

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Cole Copeland passed for two touchdowns and ran for one of Chattanooga’s four rushing scores as the Mocs beat Western Carolina 45-17 on Saturday.

Chattanooga led 21-3 in the first quarter for its most points in the opening frame since 2017.

Tyrell Price, Gino Appleberry and Ailym Ford each rushed for 70-plus yards and a score for Chattanooga (2-2, 1-0 Southern). Price’s TD went for 57 yards and Ford had a 54-yarder as six rushers combined for 271 yards while WCU was held to 277 total yards.

Ford, who entered with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, carried it 16 times for 74 yards to become the fastest high-school signee to reach 1,500 career yards rushing in program history.

Both of KeShawn Toney’s catches went for a touchdown, and Telly Plummer, Brandon Dowdell and Jerrell Lawson each made an interception for Chattanooga.

Western Carolina (0-5, 0-2) is still seeking its first victory under first-year head coach Kerwin Bell. The Catamounts had their road losing streak extended to 11 games.

WCU has dropped 11 of the last 12 series meetings – and 15 of the last 18 overall dating to 2006.

Davidson holds off Stetson in 35-28 win

DELAND, Fla. (AP) — Coy Williams scored three rushing touchdowns and Dylan Sparks’ 1-yard scoring run late carried Davidson to a 35-28 win over Stetson on Saturday.

Sparks’ scoring run ended a nine-play, 75-yard drive that took more than five minutes and left the Hatters with 3:31 to try and tie it.

In two drives sandwiched around a Davidson (3-1, 2-0 Pioneer Football League) punt, Stetson (2-2, 0-1) turned it over on downs and time expired on its final drive when the Wildcats defense held Stetson (2-2, 0-1) to 15 yards.

Stetson built a 21-7 lead late in the first half when Justin Agner threw a 41-yard scoring pass to Nazeviah Burris. Davidson responded with a 12-yard Williams touchdown run with 1:39 before intermission, he scored again from the 1 out of the break and Louis Colosimo threw a 14-yard scoring pass to Jackson Sherrard with 3:08 left in the third for 28-21 lead.

Agner connected with Burris again from 5 yards out with 8:46 left to knot it at 28-all. Agner threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns — all to Burris — who caught seven passes for 127 yards.

Muskett, Farri lead Monmouth to 54-17 romp over Gardner-Webb

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. (AP) — Tony Muskett passed for 289 yards and four touchdowns and Juwon Farri ran for 139 yards and two scores as Monmouth overpowered Gardner-Webb 54-17 in the Bulldogs’ Big South Conference opener on Saturday.

Farri ran 39 yards for a score to open the scoring for the Hawks (3-2, 2-0) on their first possession. Muskett added a pair of TD passes to Joey Aldarelli; Nick Shoemaker forced a fumble and recovered it in the end zone for a score; and Lonnie Moore IV added a 39-yard TD run as Monmouth jumped out to a 33-0 second-quarter lead and never looked back.

The Hawks amassed 238 yards on the ground and finished with 527 yards of offense. Dymere Miller had three catches for 106 yards and a TD, while Moore caught eight passes for 100 yards and a score.

Gardner-Webb (2-3, 0-1) was held to 97 yards rushing on 26 carries with 47 of those coming on a TD run by Dexter Brown on the final play of the first half. Bailey Fisher completed 19 of 29 passes for 164 yards with one interception.

Cheek, Witherspoon rally Elon to 20-7 victory over Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Davis Cheek threw a go-ahead touchdown pass and McKinley Witherspoon added a fourth-quarter scoring run as Elon spotted Richmond an early lead before cruising to a 20-7 victory in Colonial Athletic Association play on Saturday.

Beau English staked Richmond to a 7-0 first-quarter lead with a 33-yard scoring strike to Aaron Dykes. Skyler Davis pulled the Phoenix (2-3, 1-1) within four points with a 35-yard field goal early in the second quarter and Cheek gave them the lead for good when he connected with Bryson Daughtry from 14 yards out to make it 10-7 at halftime.

Witherspoon pushed Elon’s lead to 10 with a 6-yard TD run at the 11:18 mark of the fourth quarter and Davis capped the scoring with a 48-yard field goal. Cheek completed 18 of 30 passes for 197 yards.

English completed 21 of 42 passes for 193 yards for the Spiders (2-3, 0-2). Richmond outgained the Phoenix 338-304 and had nine more first downs but turned the ball over twice.

Fowler, Martin power NC A&T past Robert Morris 41-14

GREENSBORO (AP) — Jalen Fowler threw two touchdown passes and Jah-Maine Martin ran for 105 yards and two scores to lead North Carolina A&T to a 41-14 victory over Robert Morris in a Big South Conference opener on Saturday.

Andrew Brown sandwiched two field goals around an 18-yard TD run by Bhayshul Tuten as the Aggies (2-2, 1-0) grabbed a 13-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Robert Morris (1-2, 0-1) pulled within 13-7 with 23 seconds left in the half on George Martin’s 8-yard TD toss to D’Andre Hicks, but Taymon Cooke returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards to the Colonials’ 45-yard line and two plays later Fowler hit Zach Leslie for a 22-yard score with 3 seconds left for a 20-7 lead.

Robert Morris cut its deficit to six on their first possession of the third quarter on Jonathan Wynn’s 40-yard TD run, but the Colonials would get no closer. Martin scored on a 13-yard run to make it 27-14 after three periods. Fowler added a 1-yard TD pass to Nick Dobson in the fourth quarter and Martin capped the scoring with a 14-yard scoring run with 4:56 to play.

Fowler completed 15 of 20 passes for 206 yards with one interception for the Aggies.

Martin completed 17 of 31 passes for 203 yards with one pick for the Colonials. Robert Morris gained just 257 total yards, while yielding 446.

Mississippi Valley State stuns NC Central with late TD

ITTA BENA, Miss. (AP) — Jelani Eason tossed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Johnson on the final play of the game and Mississippi Valley State stunned North Carolina Central 17-16 as the Delta Devils picked up their first win of the season in nonconference action on Saturday.

NC Central (2-3) appeared to have the game in hand after Davius Richard’s 1-yard TD run with 25 seconds left in the game capped a nine-play, 82-yard drive. But Adrian Olivo missed the extra point and the Eagles lead stood at 16-10. MVSU began its final drive at the Eagles’ 46-yard line after a 15-yard facemask penalty was tacked on to the end of Donald Johnson’s 25-yard kickoff return. Eason promptly connected with Jacory Rankin for a 44-yard gain, setting up the game-tying TD. Orlando Fernandez kicked the extra point to make winners of the Delta Devils (1-3).

Eason completed 20 of 27 passes for 175 yards for MVSU. Caleb Johnson carred 20 times for 71 yards.

Richard was 14-of-25 passing for NC Central for 198 yards and a TD with one costly interception. The Eagles were leading 10-3 when Volme Swanier picked off a Richard pass on the final play of the first half, returning it 41 yards for a TD and knotting the score at 10.

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