Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rockets Rally to Pound New Hampshire, 54-20

Junior Phillip Ely made a successful debut as Toledo’s new quarterback and sophomore Kareem Hunt rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns as the Rockets rallied to defeat a tough New Hampshire squad, 54-20, in the season opener for both schools in the Glass Bowl Saturday night.

After misconnecting on two of his first three passes on Toledo’s first series, Ely took command of the game, finishing the contest with 24-of-34 completions for 337 yards and four touchdowns. He led Toledo to seven consecutive touchdown drives from midway through the second quarter until late in the game, turning a close game into a rout.

Hunt, who rushed for the sixth 100-yard game of his career, scored on a two-yard TD run with 24 seconds left in the first half to give Toledo its first lead of the game, 16-14. The Rockets had been trailing, 14-3, midway through the second quarter before touchdowns by sophomore Cory Jones and Hunt gave a boost Toledo going into the locker room

Toledo’s defense was impressive, as well. The Rockets gave up a 35-yard TD pass and one long drive in the first half, but otherwise kept New Hampshire’s veteran offense under control.

The Wildcats, ranked No. 4 in the FCS, got on the board first on a 35-yard pass play from Goldrich to R.J. Harris. Harris grabbed a pass near the line of scrimmage, then used a block to bolt untouched into the end zone. Toledo countered with an 11-play, 78-yard drive that culminated in a 22-yard field goal by Jeremiah Detmer.

The teams exchanged punts before New Hampshire struck again, this time on a 13-play, 87-yard drive that was aided by a pair of Rocket penalties. Goldrich took it the final four yards to put the Wildcats up, 14-3.

Moments later, the Rockets cut the score to 14-10 on Ely’s first career touchdown pass, a 64-yard bomb to Corey Jones, which was also his first collegiate TD reception.

Ely began to come into his own on Toledo’s final drive of the half. New Hampshire punter Brad Prasky pinned the Rockets in at their own four-yard line with 2:16 to play. Ely proceeded to match the offense 96 yards in 10 plays and less than two minutes. He completed 5-of-5 passes on the drive. The final two yards came from Hunt, who followed a blocker into the end zone. The extra point attempt was fumbled, giving UT a 16-14 edge to take into the locker room.

New Hampshire gambled on its first possession of the second half and got burned, attempting a fake punt from its own 38-yard line. DeJuan Rogers and Ray Bush stuffed the play, giving Toledo a short field from the 37-yard line. Seven plays later, Hunt bashed through from two yards out, making the score 23-14.

Following a three-and-out by the Wildcats, the Rockets extended the lead to 30-14 on a nine-yard pass play from Ely to senior Justin Olack with 7:02 left in the third quarter. New Hampshire wasn’t finished off, though, scoring on an eight-yard pass from Goldrich to Nico Steriti just moments later. However, the Wildcats attempt to go for two points was thwarted when Steriti was stopped just short of the goal line, making the score 30-20.

Toledo put the game away with three consecutive touchdowns. Olack caught his second TD pass with 1:16 left in the third quarter. Sophomore Damion Jones-Moore followed that up with a seven-yard score with 12:10 left in the game, putting Toledo up safely, 44-20. The score was set up by a 42-yard run by Jones-Moore and a 32-yarder by Hunt. Freshman Terry Swanson hauled in a 40-yarder from Ely moments later to make the score 51-20. Detmer finished off the scoring with a 27-yard field goal, his 15th consecutive conversion going back to last year and his 38uth of his last 39 attempts.

Toledo returns to the Glass Bowl next week to host No. 24 Missouri in a noon kickoff at the Glass Bowl.

Bobcats spoil opening night at Dix with late field goal

Josiah Yazdani booted a 44-yard field goal as time expired to spoil the 2014 season opener for Kent State and lift Ohio University to a 17-14 win at Dix Stadium.
Defense kept the Golden Flashes in the game all through the second half, forcing four straight fumbles and giving the team's offense chances to cut into a 14-7 Bobcats lead. Colin Reardon turned the final opportunity into a game-tying 23-yard touchdown pass to Chris Humphrey with just 3:34 to play.
Ohio answered that score, however, marching 48 yards in nine plays to set the stage for Yazdani's game-winning attempt with three seconds on the clock.
"It was a tough loss," said Kent State head coach Paul Haynes. "I'm sure when we watch the film there will be a lot of things we can improve on. But I love the fight in these guys. They kept coming back and just came up short. We will fight together, stick together and get started on preparing for South Alabama (Sep. 6 at Dix Stadium)."
Some critical errors and a one-dimensional offensive attack put Kent State in a position where it needed to keep fighting back.
The Bobcats took advantage of some coverage errors to notch their first score – a 23-yard touchdown pass from Derrius Vick to Landon Smith with 10:01 to play in the first quarter.
Vick found Smith again for a 5-yard touchdown to put Ohio ahead 14-7 with 6:53 remaining in the second quarter on a score that arrived just three plays after the most critical error of the day for Kent State. The Bobcats found second life on their drive after the Flashes lined up with two players wearing the number 12 during an Ohio punt from midfield. The illegal formation penalty turned a punt on fourth-and-four into an Ohio first down.
"When you go up against a good football team, you always talk about how you can't beat yourself," said Haynes. "The one is my fault with two numbers on the field. I have to make sure that doesn't happen again. That's organization. That was a stop, and then they scored … There are no excuses."
Kent State's defense took up the challenge after allowing the second Vick-to-Smith touchdown connection, holding the Bobcats scoreless until the Yazdani's final boot.
Senior defensive end Nate Vance forced and recovered the first Ohio fumble early in the third quarter at the Bobcat 34 yard line. Six plays later and after picking up a first-and-goal at the 8-yard line, the Flashes missed a 20-yard field goal attempt.
Sophomore safety Nate Holley forced fumble No. 2, which junior defensive tackle Nate Terhune recovered at the Flashes 25 yard line mid way through the third quarter. Holley then recovered another fumble knocked free by freshman nose tackle Jon Cunningham.
Reardon marched the Flashes 78 yards in 11 plays for the game-tying score after Holley dislodged the football one final time and cornerback Najee Murray fell on it at the Kent State 22.
"We put in so much time and effort," said Holley, who added 18 tackles to his two forced fumbles and one recovery. "To come up short, it hurts. If the defense wouldn't have given up 17 points at the end, we would have won. We are frustrated … The challenge to ourselves is what is our identity? What are we as a defense? Without watching film, I personally think this is going to be a great defense. We have a lot of hard-nosed guys who play with a lot of passion and effort. We had a few assignment errors and we can't give up big plays, but for the most part I'm proud of our defense."
Ohio was just as pleased by a defense that shut down the run and forced Kent State to turn to the air.
While their rushing attack managed managed just 31 yards on 22 rushing attempts, the Flashes found success behind the arm of Reardon, who completed 30-of-41 passes for 264 yards and a pair of touchdowns – the first an 8-yard screen to Josh Boyle that tied the score at 7-7 with 5:58 on the first-quarter clock.
Reardon's second game-tying touchdown was one of nine catches by Humphrey totaling 91 yards. Ernest Calhoun added a game-high 11 catches for 62 yards.
Vick finished with 262 yards on 18-of-24 passing for the Bobcats, who finished with 437 yards of total offense on 68 plays. Kent State gained 295 yards on 63 plays.
Postgame Notes

The Kent State defense forced four fumbles on four consecutive possessions. The four forced turnovers were the most by a Kent State defense since the 2012 season.

Sophomore Nate Holley made a career-high 18 tackles. He also forced two fumbles and recovered one.

Sophomore Colin Reardon had career highs of 30 completions, 41 attempts and 264 yards passing. His 30 completions tie for the fifth most in a game in Kent State history.

Sophomore Ernest Calhoun made a career-high 11 catches.

Junior Josh Boyle caught his first touchdown since the 2012 season.

Senior Chris Humphrey has made a catch in 21 straight games. He made his fourth career touchdown grab.

Junior Anthony Melchiori's first punt went for 71 yards. He averaged 47.0 yards on seven punts. Melchiori also had touchbacks on all three of his kickoffs.

Senior Nate Vance forced and recovered a fumble.

Saturday's attendance of 22, 754 was the largest crowd for a season opener at Dix Stadium and the ninth highest in the stadium's history.

Kent State Quotes

Head Coach Paul Haynes

There are a lot of things that we have to improve on. But I love the fight in these guys, they fought like crazy. They kept coming back, but just came up short. But we will get better. We will fight again, we will stick together, get back in it and get started for South Alabama.

On Ohio

They play hard tough-nose football too. So when we watch the film we will see there are a lot of things we can do better. I don't want to take away credit form them. I'm not going to second guess us of what we did and how we did it.

On key first half penalty

You know when you always go up against a good football team, they say you can't beat yourself. Penalties kill you. One of the big ones was my fault with two players on the field with the same number. That's something that can't happen again because that ended up being a stopped and they scored. We've Got to go back and keep working and sticking together.

I have no excuses, there are no excuses

On Freshman DL Jon Cunningham

Jon did a good job just from the sideline view he played hard. He plays with a lot of passion so we know going into the season we were going to need one of those guys to come in and help us.

Its always a plus when one of the freshman can come in and help us.

Center Alex Nielsen

On Jason Bitsko

Ever since the funeral, not just the offensive line, but the whole team has gotten together. We want to honor his memory , we had him in the back of our heads as the game went on.

Before the game started he was in the back of our heads. Once the game started we had something else to fight for other then ourselves. He was our motivation.

The game

We can look back and say we could have, would have, should have, but we have to look forward to next week.

Quarterback Colin Reardon

We have so much potential to do great things, but we've got to clean it up little bit.

On touchdown pass to Chris Humphrey

It was supposed to be a pass to the spread out, but the defense read the play. I tried to stay in the pocket as long as I could, but then I rolled out and the receiver did a good job of coming back to the ball.

Safety Nate Holley

We put in so much time and effort, so to come up short by 3. It hurt us but its not the offense's fault and not the defense's fault. We are a team.

You have to give them credit too, they are strong up front

I feel like the defense right now is playing pretty well. We played with a lot of intensity, played hard nose and with a lot of passion and a lot of effort. We had a Couple assignment errors, we can't have those made, it hurts. For the most part I'm proud of our defense.

Ohio Coach Frank Solich:

Surviving four second half fumbles:

"This is a great group of guys, it's been that way through winter conditioning and spring ball. I knew that this was a special group in terms of great effort and never giving up. They showed today that they are extremely resilient, I couldn't be more proud of them. We made it difficult, you normally don't win football games with four turnovers."

"They didn't stop us once, we stopped ourselves through fumbles. I thought our line did a great job for having a number of freshmen playing and having a very inexperienced offensive line. At the start of fall camp, our offensive line was the biggest concern we had, but they did a great job today."

On winning kick:

"44 yards isn't a chip shot, we have an All-MAC kicker though. We have a great deal of confidence in him and better than that he has a great deal of confidence in himself. I knew that if he just hit it well we'd win the game."

On quarterback performance:

"I thought it was a great performance by him. He threw the ball very well, kept drives alive, and also ran very well at times. He executed the option well a couple times and that help put us close enough for that last field goal. He did a great job of executing our whole offense tonight."

On defensive performance:

"Their resiliency, we have a lot of depth so we were able to keep fresh guys in there. Kent kept coming back, they're a good offensive football team. They found some spots to throw the ball to and get some things going at the end. If our defense didn't play as well as they played we wouldn't have had a chance in this game with 4 turnovers."

OhioFootball Defeats Kent State, 17-14 as Time Expires

With time expiring, Josiah Yazdani hit a 44-yard field goal to give the Ohio University Football team a 17-14 victory against Mid-American Conference foe, Kent State to open the 2014 season.
The Bobcats struck first at 10:01 in the first quarter when Derrius Vick connected with Landon Smith for a 23-yard touchdown.

A pivotal point in the game for the `Cats came in the second quarter. With the game tied at 7-7, the Bobcats were forced to punt, however, Kent State was called for having two men on the field with the same number, giving the ball back to the Bobcats.

Vick then capped the drive by matching up with Smith for their second touchdown of the night and putting Ohio up 14-7.

Defensively, Ohio limited Kent State to 31 yards rushing.

The Ohio defensive unit held Kent State to minus four yards rushing in the first half. The Golden Flashes finished the game with just 31 yards rushing.

"This is a great group of guys, it's been that way through winter conditioning and spring ball. I knew that this was a special group in terms of great effort and never giving up. They showed today that they are extremely resilient, I couldn't be more proud of them."

-Frank Solich

The Bobcats return to action Sept. 6 when they travel to Lexington Ky., to face the University of Kentucky. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium and can be seen on ESPNU.

Eagles Open Creighton Era with a Victory at The Factory

Eastern Michigan University's football team kicked off its 123rd season on the brand new "EMU Gray" turf at Rynearson Stadium with a neck-and-neck, 31-28, victory over Morgan State University Saturday, Aug. 30. The Eagles had to wait through a 57-minute rain delay along with a last-second field goal attempt by the Bears to give Head Coach Chris Creighton his first win as an FBS Head Coach.

EMU was led on the ground by Bronson Hill (Grand Rapids, Mich.-Catholic Central) and Darius Jackson (Sparta, Ill.-Sparta), who combined for 187 yards rushing. Hill surpassed the century mark for the 10th time in his career, going 114 yards on 19 carries. Jackson notched a career high in rushing with 73 yards on 17 carries and also set a career mark in receiving yards, pulling in five catches for 22 yards. Reginald Bell, Jr. (Los Angeles, Calif.-Susan Miller Dorsey) led the offense, making a start in the first game of his collegiate career and throwing 11-for-16 with a total of 59 yards.

The Eagle defense saw a career night from Pat O'Connor (Chicago, Ill.-Saint Rita), who totaled 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks and three tackles for loss with a remarkable 20 yards in total loss. Also picking up 10 tackles were Hunter Matt (Wyandotte, Mich.-Roosevelt) and Great Ibe (Hanover, Md.-Meade (Concordia)). Matt led the team in solo attacks, with six, while Ibe and O'Connor notched five apiece.

Morgan State ran much of its offense through the air, as Robert Council went 18-for-28, throwing 269 yards for three touchdowns, including a 75-yard score. Lamont Brown III paced the offense, rushing for 124 yards on 18 carries. The Bears had some fierce defenders, as four members of the MSU line had at least 10 tackles. Cody Acker led the way with 19, while Delonta Hall added 16, Peterson Janvier had 12, and Paul Eatman, Jr. recorded 11 stops.

The Green and White was able to keep the Bears at bay for the first part of the opening drive, as Matt, Lavonte Robinson (Cleveland, Ohio-Saint Edward), and DaQuan Pace (Detroit, Mich.-Cass Technical) did their part in stopping Morgan State players off the pass. Council was able to break through the defense with a handful of rushes, culminating in a 23-yard rush along the left sideline before being denied entry into the end zone by Pace on the three-yard line. However, the Eagles were unable to stop the next play, as Council found his favorite target of the drive in Brown III for the first touchdown of the contest. An extra point from Chris Moller left the Green and White with a 7-0 deficit, but the Eagles had ample time to battle back with 8:08 remaining in the first quarter.

After gaining possession of the pigskin for the first time in the 2014 campaign, the Eagles quickly gained a first down thanks to a stealthy sprint up the middle by Bell in his first appearance donning the Green and White. Bell kept his composure to help the Green and White move the chains another time by finding Tyreese Russell (Melrose Park, Ill.-Walther Lutheran) in the open pocket, tossing an easy 14-yard lob to find the senior on the MSU 36-yard line. Another throw along the left side found Jackson inside the red zone, and the Eagles found themselves at first and goal. A handoff to Jackson paved the way for the team's first touchdown inside "The Factory," and Dylan Mulder (Saline, Mich.-Saline) was able to convert the extra point to knot the score, 7-7, with 3:06 remaining.

Riding the momentum from an outstanding offensive performance, the Eagle defense stepped up its game in the Bears' next possession. Ibe made two consecutive stops to give MSU a third down before helping O'Connor slam Council back 10 yards, giving the Bears a highly lengthy fourth-and-14.

The entirety of Rynearson Stadium was sent into a mad frenzy when Nathan Adams (Crozier, Va.-Goochland) blocked the punt, recovered the ball, and scrambled into the end zone for another EMU touchdown. The blocked punt touchdown was the first since Travis Lewis accomplished the feat at Kent State University, Nov. 13, 2004. It was also just the third blocked punt return touchdown by an EMU squad since 1967. Mulder's leg remained perfect on the extra point, giving the Eagles a quick command of the board with a 14-7 advantage with 54 seconds remaining.

The Bears started off the second quarter with a bang as Council found Eme Akonawe open for a dash down the middle to the EMU 25-yard line before he was taken down by Willie Creear (Seattle, Wash.-Lindbergh (ButteJC)). MSU made a statement and fought back from its previous possession's kerfuffle, making its way down the field to the 10-yard line. O'Connor made another tremendous sack on Council for a loss of 12 yards off an attempted third-down conversion. Gary White, Jr. (Raleigh, N.C.-Southeast Raleigh (Grossmont)) then blocked the field goal attempt, the first time since a matchup against Kent State on Nov. 19, 2011, that an Eagle had done so.

Bell turned to Ryan Brumfield (Chester Springs, Pa.-Owen J. Robert) on the Eagles' next drive, as the senior running back helped the ball move 30 yards down the field. Bell found an open Brumfield for the rush into the end zone, this time making a 16-yard jaunt to elevate the Green and White's lead to 21-7 with 6:49 to play.
Unfortunately, the Bears picked up their offensive pace drastically on the next drive, thanks in large part to Brown III. The redshirt-sophomore running back moved the ball down the field 65 yards over four plays, breaking free for a 46-yard rush to a touchdown to put the Bears within seven points as the Eagles still led, 21-14, with 4:57 to play in the first half.

The Eagles were unable to muster any points in the ensuing possession, and fell victim to another touchdown from the Bears as they deadlocked the score after going 80 yards in just eight plays and less than 90 seconds. With less than one minute remaining in the half, the score stood at 21-21.The Eagles made their way into MSU territory, but were unable to put any more points on the board before they made their way into the locker room at the close of the half.

The Eagles were able to get the gears moving to start the second half with a ground attack by Hill and Jackson. However, the Green and White was unable to gain any momentum and was forced to concede a punt. Owen Dubiel (East Jackson, Mich.-East Jackson) was able to make the most of the situation, dropping the ball on the MSU five-yard line to give the Bears a challenging distance of 95 yards to travel. Though the Eagles had ample room to stop the Bears, they only allowed Morgan State to travel 15 yards down-field before regaining possession.

Brogan Roback (Maumee, Ohio-Toledo St. John's Jesuit) entered the game to give the Eagles a fresh look at the quarterback position, but the veteran Eagle could not work any magic to give the Eagles the offensive spark that they needed. The Bears jumped at the opportunity to gather some more points of their own, and their effort proved fruitful when Council threw to Thomas Martin for a 75-yard touchdown. With 5:30 to play in the third quarter, the Eagles trailed once more by seven points, down 21-28.

The previous MSU touchdown seemed to fire the Eagles up, especially Hill, who busted through the MSU defense and carried the ball 35 yards in four plays before the Bears called a timeout in an attempt to slow the determined senior. The defense keyed in on Hill when the teams took to the field again, and Roback found a new target in Dustin Creel (Industry, Pa.-Western Beaver), who had two catches for 15 yards to put the Eagles in the red zone. As the Bears turned their attention to Creel after the success of the previous plays, Brumfield took the ball and stomped through the line for a 14-yard rush, marking the second time in his career to score two rushing touchdowns in one contest, to equalize the score, 28-28, with two minutes to play in the quarter.

Facing formidable winds and a 42-yard distance between his foot and the goal posts , Mulder was brought in for a field goal attempt with 13:41 left in the contest . The junior kicker rose to the occasion and sailed the ball through the uprights to give the Eagles the advantage once more, 31-28.

The Bears were faced with a sturdy wall of defense on their next drive, capped off with a stellar tackle off a read on a screen pass from Matt. The Green and White was faced with a lofty task in making its way nearly the entire length of the field after MSU's Lawrence Forbes delivered a punt on the one-yard line. Jackson barreled through the MSU defensive line to carry the ball 17 yards in three attempts.

EMU's momentum was halted due to inclement weather in the area and the contest was delayed for 57 minutes until the teams were allowed back on the field with 9:13 to play.

When the game finally resumed in front of a small but loyal crowd of Eastern fans, the Eagles gave a valiant effort to advance the ball. Despite its best efforts, the team had to give up another punt. The Bears appeared refreshed by the game delay, as Brown ran 32 yards on the first play before Pace forced him out of bounds. But the EMU defense had not given up and returned to the ensuing plays more determined, resulting in a stripped ball by O'Connor to give the ball back to the Eagles with just 42 yards to the goal and 5:21 to play.

Inspired by the change in game direction from the outstanding defensive play, the Eagles began to move the chains quickly with a pair of rushes by Hill to move the ball 25 yards up the field. The Green and White soon found itself within reasonable scoring distance and decided to go in for a field goal attempt, but Mulder's kick veered off to the left and returned the ball to the Bears.

MSU made a handful of scrambles toward the goal line before a fumble by Council dropped the Bears back to second-and-17. They were able to advance to fourth-and-nine at the EMU 38-yard line, giving Chris Moller a 55-yard attempt. A false start on the snap pushed the attempt back five yards, and MSU was unable to tie the contest, giving the Eagles the first win of the 2014 season and Coach Creighton's first win as an FBS Head Coach. After the game, the team personally thanked the fans who remained throughout the entire game before heading into the lockerroom as victors.

The Eagles will take to the road for five weeks, playing their next contest at the University of Florida, Sept. 6, in Gainesville, Fla. Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on the SEC Network as well as on the airwaves of WEMU 89.1 FM.

Miners Escape Albuquerque With 31-24 Win

Aaron Jones ran for a career-high 237 yards and three touchdowns, and UTEP gained 333 yards rushing on its way to outlasting New Mexico, 31-24, on Saturday at University Stadium.
The Miners (1-0) dominated the first half, went into the locker room up 24-7, then watched their lead completely evaporate before capitalizing on a big fourth quarter turnover by the Lobos (0-1) to snare their first season-opening victory in three years. This was UTEP's first season-opening win over a Division I opponent since New Mexico in 2007.
LaQuintus Dowell recovered a fumble by Lobo punt returner Michael Arredondo at the New Mexico six-yard line late in the fourth quarter, and two plays later Jones ran it in for the winning score.
Adrian James clinched the victory when he picked off New Mexico reserve quarterback Clayton Mitchem deep in Miner territory with a little over a minute remaining.
UTEP forced three turnovers in the final period after neither team lost the football in the first three quarters.
Mitchem, who orchestrated a 42-35 New Mexico win in the 2013 season opener at the Sun Bowl, came on in relief of starter Cole Gautsche, who injured his hamstring on a 33-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
Gautsche rushed for 184 yards, including 100 of the Lobos' 262 in the second half.
The Miners have registered back-to-back wins at University Stadium, including a 38-20 triumph in 2010, for the first time since a run of three straight victories from 1965-69.
After Gautsche tied the game at 7 on a 68-yard run midway through the first quarter, the UTEP defense settled down and the offense came alive, scoring 17 consecutive points to forge a 24-7 lead at the intermission.
Jameill Showers connected with Jarrad Shaw on a 48-yard touchdown pass with 4:25 remaining in the first period, capping a six-play, 75-yard drive. The Lobos drove to the Miner 20-yard line on their next series before Roy Robertson-Harris and Anthony Puente pinned running back Teriyon Gipson for a short loss on fourth-and-one.
UTEP tacked on a 23-yard field goal by Jay Mattox with 7:59 left in the second period, forced New Mexico into a three-and-out, then drove 80 yards on three plays to push the lead to 17. Jones broke loose for a 73-yard scoring run on third and three, the second-longest scamper of his career and the 19th-longest in school history.
The Miners put up 326 yards of offense in the first half, including 227 rushing as Jones gained 158 yards on 12 carries.
The third quarter was all New Mexico as it gained 175 yards - 173 rushing - and put together a couple of long scoring drives. The first, for 83 yards, ended with a 13-yard run by Gipson. The second, for 92 yards, concluded with a 51-yard run by Gautsche.
The Lobos knotted the score on a 35-yard field goal by Zack Rogers with 8:10 to play in the game.
New Mexico had a slight advantage in total yards (477-446), with 410 coming via the rush. Jhurell Pressley ran for 84 yards and Gipson added 71.
Nathan Jeffery supplemented Jones by rushing for 84 yards on 14 carries for UTEP. Showers completed 11-of-22 passes for 116 yards, 76 of them going to Shaw, who had four receptions.
The Miners will battle Texas Tech (1-0) in the Sun Bowl next Saturday (Sept. 6) at 9 p.m. The Red Raiders beat Central Arkansas, 42-35, on Saturday behind Davis Webb, who threw for 452 yards and four touchdowns.

North Texas Falls To Longhorns In Opener, 38-7

If Saturday night's season-opener is any measure of where the 2014 North Texas football team stands, it showed just how much work the Mean Green faces before it can return to its bowl-champion status of a year ago.

With 11 new faces in the starting lineup, North Texas' inexperience and growing pains were evident in a 38-7 loss to the Texas Longhorns, who dominated the Mean Green offense and wore down the NT defense.

"There wasn't anything about our team that was good enough to win tonight," North Texas coach Dan McCarney said. "We've got to get that fixed."

North Texas managed just seven first downs in the game and 94 yards of total offense while throwing four interceptions.

The defense kept the Mean Green in the game into the second quarter, and it forced a pair of turnovers, including a fumble recovered in the end zone by James Jones for NT's lone score.

Texas completely controlled the first quarter, accumulating 103 yards of total offense while allowing the Mean Green just 15 yards and one first down. But the North Texas defense made key stops to hold the Longhorns to a 7-0 lead, that score made possible by a personal foul penalty to keep the drive alive.

But in the second period, the drumbeat of pressure on the North Texas defense - with no relief coming from the offense - took its toll. An interception set up a short field for the Longhorns' second score, Texas pushed the lead to 21-0 just before halftime, then put the game away on the opening drive of the third quarter, 28-0.

The Mean Green, meanwhile, could mount no attack at all. Quarterbacks Josh Greer and Andrew McNulty combined to complete one of eight passes with three interceptions in the first half, while the running game found precious little room through the Texas defense. The Mean Green did not cross midfield until the third quarter.

What They Said

"We need to be one of the most improved teams in college football this week."
--North Texas coach Dan McCarney on preparations for the home opener against SMU

"We didn't miss many tackles, and swarmed to the ball."
--Texas coach Charlie Strong on his defense's performance0

"It was really a good defense, and really poor execution on our part. It was just about as inept offense as we've had since I've been here."
--McCarney on his offense's performance

"Sopme really good series, and a lot of really valuable playing time for a lot of guys that have played very little. At times, we played well and tackled well."
--McCarney on his defense's performance

Quick Hits

• Senior defensive back James Jones got his first career touchdown when he recovered a fumble in the Texas end zone in the fourth quarter.

Running back Reggie Pegram made his return from last year's season-ending knee injury and carried 15 times for 50 yards.

• This was the 10th meeting between North Texas and Texas. The Longhorns won the previous nine contests.

• The Mean Green is now 228-166-15 against Texas schools. North Texas has wins over 30 Texas schools (including a few that no longer exist), but still lacks a win against Texas, Texas A&M, and UTSA.

• The Mean Green's streak of forcing at least one turnover was extended to 17 when Sir Calvin Wallace recovered a Texas fumble in the third quarter. It was Wallace's first career fumble recovery.

• North Texas used four running backs in the first half, including freshmen Jeffrey Wilson and Willy Ivery, who made such an impression in camp.

• The North Texas defense recorded some big plays to keep the Mean Green in the game in the first half, including a three-play sequence in which a blitz by Derek Akunne forced an incompletion, Dutton Watson made a tackle for a two-yard loss, and Jarrian Roberts registered a sack. Kenny Buyers also had a tackle for loss on a screen to stop another Longhorn possession.

• The Mean Green has unusual depth at punter, and used both Eric Keena and Blake Macek Saturday. Both were effective, averaging 42.0 yards on nine punts, including a punt downed by Kenny Buyers at the Longhorn one-yard line that set up the Texas fumble that got North Texas on the scoreboard.

• Fullback Jarrod Lynn had his first career carry in the second half, picking up a first down.

Up Next

North Texas returns home for its 2014 Apogee opener against SMU next Saturday, Sept. 6, at 11 a.m.

Southern Miss Defeated By Mississippi St, 49-0, In Season-Opener

Southern Miss was defeated by Mississippi State 49-0 Saturday night. The game was the first in state road game for USM since the Golden Eagles played the Bulldogs on Sept. 22, 1990. - the last meeting between the two teams.

The Bulldogs needed nine plays on the opening drive to cruise 87 yards downfield. Prescott ended the drive by finding Wilson for a 25-yard touchdown pass.

A few Mississippi State hiccups kept the game close early. DB Kalan Reed had the first interception of the 2014 season, picking off Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott in the end zone in the second quarter. The INT was the third of Reed's career and the second consecutive game with an interception as Reed picked off a pass in the Golden Eagles' 62-27 victory over UAB in the 2013 season finale.

Rakeem Nunez Roches set a career high in total tackles against Mississippi State with seven for the game. The red-shirt junior topped his previous high of six in the first half of the game, notching seven stops.

The Golden Eagles' best chance to score was a 30-yard field goal attempt that was blocked and then returned by MSU's Jay Hughes for a touchdown.

Richard Leonard Sets School Record in Season Opening Loss to Widcats

The FIU football team (0-1) opened the 2014 season with a tough, 14-12, loss to the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats on Saturday night. Senior Richard Leonard broke the school's single-game punt return yards record in the effort.

The Panthers' explosive cornerback collected 148 yards on five punt returns, while his 71-yard punt return late in the fourth quarter also stands as the fifth longest in school history. It's also the longest non-scoring return in FIU history. The Miami native shattered the previous record of 97 punt return yards, which was set in 2011 against Florida Atlantic by now-NFL standout, T.Y. Hilton. Leonard also had a 54-yard kick return in the second quarter.

On the defensive side of the ball, junior Denzell Perine set career highs in sacks (3) and tackles for loss (3/9.0). In all, the Panthers backline was able to accumulate 40 yards on 10 tackles for loss.

Senior safety Justin Halley's pass breakup on B-CU's opening drive moved the Boca Raton, Fla., native three pass break-ups shy of No. 2 all-time in program history. On the Wildcats' opening drive, Halley got in front of the B-CU receiver, slicing through the center of the field, forcing a fourth down. Junior Lars Koht collected FIU's first sack of the season on the following play.

B-CU broke a scoreless game with 11:26 to go in the second quarter. A one-yard touchdown run by the Wildcats' Michael Jones on first and goal gave the Wildcats' the an early 7-0 lead.

FIU responded with six points on back-to-back drives that resulted in a field goal. In his first drive under center for the Panthers, true freshman Alex McGough guided FIU 36 yards on six plays, setting sophomore Austin Taylor up for a 25-yard field goal.

Taylor's second 25-yarder came on the Panthers following drive. In a series that saw McGough connect 28 yards with junior tight end Ya'Keem Griner, FIU covered 53 yards on 10 plays and cut the deficit to one point. B-CU entered halftime with a 7-6 edge.

The Wildcats pulled ahead, 14-6, 3:34 into the fourth quarter, as the team converted a deep pass on third and nine. FIU responded with a four-play, seven-yard drive, resulting in a touchdown, following a 71-yard punt return from Leonard. The five-yard pass from McGough to junior T.J. Lowder was the first of the Tampa, Fla., native's career.
The score stood, 14-12, with 5:16 to go in the game. A failed last-second field goal attempt by the Panthers ended the contest.

Sophomore Jonnu Smith's two catches in the game moved the Ocala, Fla., native into second place in school history for catches by a tight end with 41.
McGough finished his first game with the Panthers 13-of-27 for 117 yards and one touchdown. His connection with Griner for 28 yards stands as a benchmark career-long for the rookie. In all, five true freshmen saw action in tonight's game (Shermarke Spence, Alex McGough, Anthony Wint, Alex Gardner, Dennis Turner)

FIU returns to action next weekend as the Panthers host Wagner. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. from Ocean Bank Field at FIU Stadium.

No. 4/3 Oklahoma Runs over Bulldogs, 48-16

Oklahoma entered Saturday night's game ranked as high as No. 3 and the Sooners showed why, rolling up 436 yards of offense in a 48-16 win over Louisiana Tech in front of 85,063 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman.
In his first career start, LA Tech's Cody Sokol threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns in a 22-for-36 performance, throwing only one interception. The Bulldogs ended up winning the turnover battle as Oklahoma's Trevor Knight was intercepted by Houston Bates while Vontarrius Dora recovered an OU fumble.

The Sooners were paced by five touchdowns scored on the ground by three Oklahoma running backs while Knight was 19-for-34 for 253 yards with one touchdown pass.

Kentrell Brice led the Bulldog defense with nine total tackles (six solo, three assisted) while Le'Vander Liggins added seven solo tackles.

The Sooners often controlled the line of scrimmage, racking up 183 yards on the ground while a tough defense held Tech's talented running backs to a total 54 yards on 29 attempts on the ground.

Oklahoma scored on its first drive of the game but needed a 4th down conversion to keep its initial drive alive. Keith Ford ran for a 22-yard score with 10:22 left in the first quarter after Trevor Knight's pass to Dimitri Flowers bailed the Sooners out of a 4th-and-short situation in Tech territory.

On its next possession, OU drove 54 yards in five plays in a drive that was capped off by a Sterling Shepard 16-yard touchdown catch from Knight to give OU the 14-0 lead.

In his first field goal attempt on the collegiate level, LA Tech's Jonathan Barnes had a 51-yard attempt blocked by Oklahoma as the Sooners ran it back to the Tech 42-yard line. That eventually set up a five-yard touchdown run by Ford to give OU the 21-0 advantage with 33 seconds left in the first half.

A Sokol interception early in the second quarter gave Oklahoma the ball at midfield and the Sooners would drive to the Tech 22-yard line but a big hit by Xavier Woods at the line of scrimmage followed by an incomplete pass by Knight would force Oklahoma's Michael Hunnicutt to kick a 39-yard field goal for the 24-0 Sooner lead.

Near the end of the half, Oklahoma would drive down again and score, this time the touchdown coming off of a one-yard run by Alex Ross.

Tech would finally get on the board with eight seconds left as Jonathan Barnes connected on a 36-yard field goal.

Oklahoma struck quickly in the second half as Alex Ross scored on an eight-yard run. The Sooners reached the end zone in only 1:29, driving 75 yards in five plays.

Tech's defense had held OU to 4th-and-long with the Sooners set to punt but an illegal substitution flag on the Bulldogs gave OU 4th-and-3 instead of 4th-and-8. The short distance prompted Oklahoma to pull its punter off the field and the Sooners converted the fourth down. The Bulldogs would still hold OU to a field goal as Hunnicutt connected on a 37-yard kick, giving the Sooners the 41-3 lead.

LA Tech mounted a nine-play, 59-yard drive in a four-plus minute time span that straddled the third and fourth quarters with Kenneth Dixon breaking a tackle and back flipping into the end zone for a touchdown with 14:49 left in the game.

The Sooners would respond with Ross running the kickoff back 80 yards to set up the seven-yard touchdown run by Samaje Perine three plays later as OU extended its lead to 48-10.

The Bulldogs added one more score as Trent Taylor caught a diving 22-yard touchdown pass from Sokol with less than a minute to go in the game while Oklahoma blocked Jonathan Barnes' extra point attempt;

Louisiana Tech will next play at Louisiana-Lafayette next Saturday, Sept. 6 with a 6 p.m. kickoff broadcast on


Middle Tennessee strung together an impressive performance to stifle Savannah State 61-7 in the Raiders' 100th season-opener at Floyd Stadium on Saturday.

The Raiders (1-0) produced 519 yards of offense and limited the Tigers on defense to 219 yards. The Raiders' 61 points and 54-point margin was the largest ever in a season-opener. The previous record occurred in 1954 when MT put up 52 against Stewart Air Force Base.

Despite rainy conditions throughout the game, the Raiders jumped out early marching down the field 75 yards to take a 6-0 lead. MT added 28 more points in the first half to take a 34-0 lead.

Redshirt junior Austin Grammer had a stellar debut as starter, completing 15-of-17 passes for 88.2 percent, which matched the second-best in school history. Grammer threw passes of 50 and 47 yards, respectively. The Tuscaloosa, Alabama native finished with 250 yards and a touchdown.

MT used its strong corps of receivers as five different players had 30-plus yards. Marcus Henry totaled 84 yards, including a 47-yard catch from Grammer. Ed'Marques Batties caught four passes for 42 yards. Junior tailback Jordan Parker had the longest catch of the day in the first quarter, reeling in a 50-yard strike from Grammer.

The Raiders had nine different backs tote the pigskin, netting 228 yards and six rushing touchdowns. Jeremiah Bryson and Shane Tucker posted two touchdowns each. Reggie Whatley added 65 yards, while Tony Rowland connected on 63.

Defensively, the Raiders forced two fumbles and picked up an interception. Trey Wafford returned a 20-yard fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter. In the first half, Kevin Byard picked up his 10th career interception, which tied him for seventh in program history.

Linebacker Quay Watt led the Blue Raider defense with seven stops. Leighton Gasque and Shaquille Huff each added a sack, while T.T. Barber posted two tackles-for-loss.
On the opening drive, sophomore Shane Tucker barreled through for a 13-yard touchdown to give MT a six-point edge. The Raiders subsequently missed the two-point conversion. Grammer found Parker for a 50-yard strike on the Blue Raiders second drive of the day. It would set up a five-yard touchdown pass from Grammer to Tucker. Erdely ran in the third touchdown of the day with a three-yard scamper up the middle, giving MT a 20-point edge.

In the third quarter, the Raiders blocked their 49th kick in the Rick Stockstill era when Raynard Felton rejected a field goal. It marked the first blocked field goal since 2012 against FIU. Batties showed his versatility with a 61-yard punt return in the third quarter, stretching MT's edge to 47-0.

Middle Tennessee hits the road next week for a 2:30 p.m. contest. The game is televised on the Big Ten Network.


CAPTAINS: Today's game captains were WR Marcus Henry, LB Christian Henry and OL Jonah Sells.

GAME DELAY: Tonight's season opener against Savannah was delayed by lightning for 23 minutes. The official kickoff time was 6:23 PM.

BYARD GETS 10TH: Kevin Byard recorded his 10th career pick when he came down with one early in the second quarter against the Tigers. Byard is now tied for seventh on the all-time list. The career leader is James Griffin's 17.

FIRST TIME STARTERS: Middle Tennessee had seven first time starters tonight against SSU with five on offense and two on defense. The first timers were QB Austin Grammer, FB Chase Pennycuff, WR Ed'Marques Batties, WR Terry Pettis, and WR Devin Clarke, DE Steven Rhodes, and LB Trey Wafford.

BIG DEBUT FOR GRAMMER: Quarterback Austin Grammer, making his first collegiate start, enjoyed a strong debut in front of the home crowd against Savannah. The redshirt sophomore threw for a career-high 250 yards while also completing a personal-best 15 passes. His 88.2 completion percentage (15-17) matched the second-best in school history. Grammer also added 26 yards on the ground.

WAFFORD FOR SIX: LB Trey Wafford, playing in his first Blue Raider game, scored his first touchdown when he scooped a fumble and returned it 20 yards. It marked the 20th defensive score for Middle Tennessee under Rick Stockstill.

BATTIES RETURN: Ed'Marques Batties returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to mark the Raiders' first score on a punt return since the season opener in 2013 against WCU. Kyle Griswould went 57 yards last year against the Catamounts. It also went down as the 11th special teams score under Rick Stockstill.

BLOCKED KICK: Middle Tennessee blocked its 29th kick in the Rick Stockstill era when Raynard Felton rejected a field goal in the third quarter. It marked the first blocked field goal since 2012 against FIU. The Raiders have blocked 15 field goals, 11 punts and 3 PATs under Stockstill.

QUICK HITTERS: Middle Tennessee opened its 100th season of football tonight against Savannah State … Max Ugboaja, Shubert Bastien, Christian Henry and Leighton Gasque played in their team leading 38th career game tonight … Isaiah Anderson, Kevin Byard and Darius Johnson all made their 26th straight start to lead the Raiders … QB Austin Grammer's 50-yard pass to Jordan Parker in the first quarter was the longest of his career … Jordan Parker set his career long with his 50-yard reception in the first quarter … On his first collegiate play, QB AJ Erdely scored on a 3-yard touchdown run … Jared Singletary recorded his second career fumble recovery on last play of first half … The Blue Raiders scored in all three phases of the game tonight (offense, defense, special teams) … Middle Tennessee's 61 points went down as the most scored in a season opener.


Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Stockstill

On the season opener:
I thought it was a good opening start. We came out and played fast, we flew around, we tackled good, and made good plays in all three phases of the game. We had some disappointing things happen. We fumbled a punt. Two possessions in the first half were disappointing. We lost a fumble on a screen pass. Reggie had a long run and then we had a receiver get caught on a holding penalty. We got a little sloppy the last few minutes of the first half. In the second half we made some plays. Demetrius dropped the one ball that ended up as an interception, so we've got enough stuff that we can clean up to get better for Minnesota. I thought it was a good day. I'm proud of our effort. I thought we competed extremely hard, and I'm really proud of the team and what they accomplished today.

On the rain delay:
It happened to us a lot in august during our camp. And I told our guys when it happened we may get a delay and you have to be mentally tough and we have to handle it. It rained, we sent them back. We were prepared for it tonight. I talked to our team yesterday and told them there was a good chance for rain around kickoff. I told them exactly what we were going to do and where we were going to go. No matter how long it lasted, we were ready for it. Our guys did a good job of maintaining their focus and intensity during that delay, and coming out and starting fast and playing fast. We went in the weight room, we stretched, we got on the bikes, we got on the treadmill. We kept our sweat going, so to speak. We were stretched and ready to go when they called us.

On Austin Grammer's performance:
I thought Austin did a nice job. He didn't force a lot of throws. He went to the right guy a lot of the time, he scrambled out a couple times and made some plays with his feet. He avoided a sack one time by throwing it away. I thought Austin did a nice job, and I thought our first offensive line did a really nice job.

On defensive performance:
I thought our defense played really well. I thought we played fast, I thought we were violent. There were some very physical hits out there. We had a chance for a fumble early in the game, and we didn't get it. That was probably one of the most disappointing things of the night. We had a chance to get a ball there and didn't get it. Our defense did a good job tonight and really flew around. We did a good job tackling in space. They did a good job of getting the ball out quick, so it's hard to get the ball out there, but I thought we harassed the quarterback and when he ran, there were some very physical hits on him.

On having a young team:
There were a lot of guys, even starters that played their first games. We're a very young team on both sides of the ball, and the more they can play – especially in these elements – they should come out with a little bit of confidence after what they accomplished today. Our backs ran hard. There were a couple times we danced a bit, but for the most part our guys ran behind their pads and ran hard.

On team effort:
We stress so much that it's not just offense, it's not just defense, it's not just a kicking game. We talk so much about giving maximum and relentless effort on every snap no matter if it's offense or defense or special teams, the objective is to score. We probably could've blocked five punts if we ever would've come after one. Our kickoff coverage team was much improved from last year. We didn't get many opportunities for kick return. We did have a punt return for a touchdown, and Ed (Batties) had a nice play on that. I was proud of what we did. On kickoff coverage it looked like we were really flying down there and we got some good kicks by Cody (Clark).

On Minnesota:
Minnesota had a good opening night win. Every time you go on the road it's tough. And going up there to the Big 10 especially. They've got a loud stadium. So we've got to do a great job communicating to our players. We've got to improve on a lot of areas from tonight, but like I said all along, we're hungry and I look forward to coaching this team this week to prepare for Minnesota.

QB Austin Grammer

On the QB battle:
Those two guys are incredible quarterbacks and incredible competitors. It was definitely a blessing to come out and be the starter, but those guys make it easy because we're all the best of friends. People don't see it, but we hang out together all week and they've been really good guys about it.

On the running backs:
There's really not any drop off. It is definitely hard on the defense when we plug in this guy, then this guy, then this guy, and keep pounding away and that definitely opens up the passing game."

On the offensive line:
I was actually roommates with Josh Chester, our right guard and we were talking the other day, and I told him the other day I honestly believe we could have the best o-line in the nation. We had a couple guys starting at different positions, but I feel like they did incredible.

On preparing for Minnesota:
This week I'm going to work on getting my protection calls right, getting my guys in the right places. We've been told it's a very loud place, so getting the signals in and getting everybody lined up, and really being a leader is very important.

LB Trey Wafford

On fumble recovery for touchdown:
It was like Coach Nix put me in the right position and the quarterback lost the ball and it fell right into my hands, so it was a good opportunity to take it to the house.

On preparing for Savannah State:
We went over film all week and we just had to adjust to everything they were doing.

On the defensive effort:
We go by a standard that we have give out relentless effort. We play physical and play fast. We didn't make many mistakes today.

On traveling to Minnesota:
We'll have to communicate with each other because we all know it's going to be a loud stadium.

Savannah State Head Coach Earnest Wilson III

On if team lost their focus:
No, not necessarily. I just think it was hard for them to get a rhythm. You have to remember, you're playing with five or six freshmen on each side of the ball. But they're talented guys. I even learned some stuff, and I always put it on myself.

On the youth of the team:
It's still about us. It's still about us executing just basic football and doing basic things. I can tell you I see some good things in ourselves. They're very talented young men.

On leadership of Ker-Sean Wilson:
That's why we nominated him for captain this morning. Before we left we nominated him a captain…we do leadership training and what not, that's what we're looking for. We're looking for it with the rest of the kids and we're really picking it up. I think we are going to do well.

On Middle Tennessee:
They're a good football team. There's a reason they went to a bowl game last year. Coach Stockstill has been there for many years. I've known him for a long time and he really has them going as a well-oiled machine.

QB Ker-Sean Wilson

On focus of the team:
I think we just have to regain (focus). We let the weather get to us a little but that's no excuse. We have to go back to practice, watch film this week, and just prepare for the next one and put this behind us. There's a lot to learn from this game. I think we're headed in the right direction.

On if the Middle Tennessee defense was too athletic:
No, I don't think that. Like I said, I think we let the weather get to us and lost our mental focus. We just let that bring us down. At the same time we have to stay mentally in it. Not just for one quarter but for all four quarters.
Raiders open 100th season in dominating fashion Raiders open 100th season in dominating ...
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Cowboys Storm Back vs. FSU, Upset Bid Falls Short, 37-31

Oklahoma State stormed back from a 17-point deficit but fell just short in its bid to upset defending champion Florida State, as Jameis Winston threw for 370 yards to lead the No. 1 Noles to a 37-31 victory Saturday night. Winston scored on a sparkling 28-yard run as his team opened defense of its national title on the same field where this year's champion will be crowned.
After the Noles opened up a 17-0 first-half lead, the Cowboys scored twice in the final four minutes of the second quarter, first on Desmond Roland's 1-yard touchdown run before later tacking on a 37-yard Ben Grogan field goal in the final second of the half.

The sophomore quarterback wasn't nearly as efficient as he was in the college debut that jump-started his Heisman Trophy season a year ago, but made plays when he had to as the Seminoles (1-0) tied a school record with their 17th straight victory.

"We've got to get better," Winston said. "I told our guys ... we've got to go higher."

The Cowboys were 19-point underdogs in the $1.2 billion home of the Dallas Cowboys but stayed close when J.W. Walsh matched Winston's scoring run with a 24-yard sprint and dive across the goal line to get within 27-24 early in the fourth quarter.

"You don't ever know what to expect with so many young players on the field," said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, whose offense only has two players with at least 10 career starts. "But we never saw any fear in any of their eyes."

Winston's only passing touchdown was a 50-yarder to Rashad Greene, who had 203 yards receiving.

The scoring pass, which gave Florida State a 37-24 lead, was set up when P.J. Williams sent Walsh cart-wheeling to the turf on a hit that forced a fumble. Williams recovered the loose ball.

Walsh, who had 203 yards passing and led his team with 51 yards rushing, got the unranked Cowboys within six in the final 2 minutes on his second TD run, but they couldn't get the ball back.
The Seminoles were up three in the third quarter when Winston broke loose for the longest scoring run of his career. He hurdled offensive lineman Cameron Erving at the 10 and sidestepped a defender at the 5 before diving across the goal line as the ball was falling out of his arms.

The score was reviewed, and Oklahoma State players celebrated on the sideline when the giant video board showed the ball coming out near the goal line.

Seconds later, referee Land Clark of the Pac-12 announced that the touchdown was upheld, drawing loud reactions from both sides of a crowd split pretty evenly between Florida State's dark red and Oklahoma State's bright orange.

"We just needed a play," Winston said. "Everybody contributed on that play. A 300-pound lineman, when he cuts a linebacker all the way down the field, which was amazing, I had no choice but to put the ball in the end zone."

Winston was 25 of 40 with two interceptions a year after throwing just two incompletions to beat Pitt in his debut. Cowboys defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah gave Winston the most trouble, getting two sacks and breaking up two passes.

"We're still a work in progress," Fisher said. "We all know that. "We have some good players but we still have to play good. It's not about being great; it's about playing great."

Speedy Oklahoma State newcomer Tyreek Hill 106 combined yards rushing and receiving. He was a perfect decoy on a 55-yard scoring pass to David Glidden, who was uncovered and ran untouched after catching the ball at the 30 to make it 20-17.

"We know he's fast," Gundy said. "We confirmed that. Because those guys who were chasing him are fast."

Hill recovered from a botched kickoff return that stranded the Cowboys at their 3-yard line and led to Nate Andrews' 9-yard interception return for the game's first touchdown.

NR/24 Football rolls past North Texas, 38-7

Texas' defense picked off four passes and allowed just 94 yards of total offense and the No. NR/24 Football team collected its 15th-consecutive season-opening win to open the Charlie Strong era in style with a dominant 38-7 victory over North Texas Saturday night at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Wide receiver John Harris set career highs with seven receptions and 110 yards, and Texas used a balanced offensive attack to control the game. Quarterback David Ash was 19-of-34 for 190 yards and a TD, while running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown (two TD's) contributed 84 and 65 rushing yards, respectively, in Strong's debut as Longhorn head coach.

The Longhorn defense registered a touchdown via an interception return by linebacker Demarco Cobbs, tallied seven tackles for loss and sacked UNT quarterback Josh Greer four times while allowing just 40 yards in the first three quarters. It marked just the 14th time on UT record, an opponent has recorded less than 100 yards of total offense in a game.

Already leading 7-0, Texas took control of the game in the second quarter with a pair of scores. Hicks set up a Brown 3-yard TD plunge with an interception and Ash scored on a 1-yard run on the following possession giving the Horns a comfortable 21-0 lead late in the first half.

From the start, North Texas' offense was going nowhere against a stout Longhorn defense, as the Mean Green's first nine plays failed to gain a single yard. On the sixth play, a tipped ball over the middle was intercepted by defensive back Dylan Haines at the UNT 39. The Lago Vista, Texas, native returned the pick 21 yards, granting the Longhorns outstanding field position at the 18. Unfortunately for Texas, the Mean Green defense held firm and Nick Rose missed a 38-yard field goal try wide right.

With its defense having posted three consecutive three-and-outs, Texas nabbed a 7-0 lead with 4:06 left in the first quarter as Brown finished off a nine-play, 63-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge. The key play proved to be a third down, 27-yard completion down the right sideline to the UNT 12 from Ash to Harris. UT's offense outgained the Mean Green 103-15 in total yards during the opening stanza.

Hicks' first career interception got the Horns back in business at the UNT 31 with 9:52 remaining in the half. From there it took just two plays for Texas to reach the end zone as Ash connected with Harris for 28 yards, and Brown made it two scores on the night by driving in from 3 yards out.

Just minutes later, Gray got the Horns offense back in business again, erupting through the left side of the line on third-and-2 for a 42-yard gain down to the UNT 3. Reaching pay dirt from there wouldn't prove easy, however, as the North Texas defense held, forcing fourth down at the 1-yard line. Strong and his staff made the decision to go for the TD, and the gamble paid dividends as Ash rolled out to his right and outsprinted several Mean Green defenders to dive just inside the pylon for a 21-0 lead with 2:41 left in the first half.

Straight out of the halftime break, UT mixed the run and the pass to perfection, culminating a nine-play, 75-yard drive with an 8-yard scoring toss from Ash to Harris.

Trailing 28-0 in the fourth quarter, North Texas mounted its best drive of the contest, covering 32 yards on 11 plays over 6:29. With the Mean Green offense facing a third-and-5 at the Texas 39, defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway broke through the line and delivered UT's third sack of the contest, dropping Greer for a 9-yard loss to force UNT's ninth punt.

Texas' shutout bid came to an end with 7:17 left in the fourth. A mishandled UT snap inside the 1-yard line was recovered in the end zone by North Texas cornerback James Jones, cutting the deficit to 28-7.

Keyed by a 34-yard run by D'Onta Foreman, Texas answered back with a 34-yard Rose field goal, marching 53 yards over eight plays while utilizing 2:51 off the clock.

The scoring wasn't yet finalized, however, as a Greer pass across the middle was tipped up in the air. Texas linebacker Cobbs picked the ball off and set sail 28 yards to pay dirt, finalizing UT's 38-7 triumph.

The Longhorns return to action on Saturday, Sept. 6, as BYU ventures to Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for a 6:30 p.m. Central contest slated for live broadcast on FOX Sports 1.

Waters' 4 TDs Propels No. 20 K-State in 55-16 Win

Backed by a dominant performance by Wildcat signal-caller Jake Waters, K-State rolled Stephen F. Austin, 55-16, in front of 52,830 faithful at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Finding success both through the air and on the ground, Waters finished the day accounting for 278 of the Wildcats’ 478 total yards with four scores in a little over three quarters of play. He was an efficient 19-of-28 for 223 yards and two touchdowns, completing passes to eight different receivers on the night, and picked up another 55 yards and two scores via the ground game on a team-high 17 carries.

The 55 points were the most scored by the Wildcats in a home-opener since Sept. 22, 2001, when K-State rung up 64 points in a shutout over New Mexico State.

• After forcing the Lumberjacks to punt in the game’s opening drive, K-State promptly marched down the field to score their first of four TD’s in the first half. Keyed by DeMarcus Robinson, who accounted for 40 of the drive’s 69 yards, the Wildcats’ early 7-0 lead came via Waters connecting with Tyler Lockett for a 9-yard score.
• The Wildcat defense stifled the Lumberjacks’ offense early on, holding them to 21 yards on 12 plays in their first three drives.
• K-State extended its lead to 14-0 thanks to a Waters 5-yard run that capped off a 12-play, 60-yard drive in 6:40. The Wildcats would then make it three-straight scoring drives and 21-0 soon after a Lumberjacks’ three-and-out, as Charles Jones took it to the house from 15-yards out.
• Switching from Zach Conque to Joe Minden at quarterback revitalized a dormant Stephen F. Austin attack, as the Lumberjacks responded with a score of their own to make it 21-7. Minden’s scoring jaunt from 18 yards out capped off a drive that included three plays of 30 or more yards for the Lumberjacks, one called back for holding, and four offensive penalties.
• Scoring a TD for the fourth-consecutive drive, Waters picked up his second rushing touchdown with a one-yard goal line plunge. The 28-7 K-State lead would be cut down to 28-10 after the Lumberjacks picked up a 28-yard field goal in their final drive of the half.

• Stephen F. Austin appeared to gain some momentum, forcing the Wildcats to their first three-and-out of the game to open the second half. That quickly disappeared thanks to a failed fourth-down conversion and lost fumble for the Lumberjacks in their first two second half drives.
• K-State would first capitalize after an errant fourth-down pass from Conque to Gus Johnson gave the Wildcats the ball on their own 41-yard line, as Waters picked up his fourth touchdown of the night. Connecting with wideout Kody Cook for a 22-yard score – the redshirt junior’s first career TD to go along with three receptions and 44 yards on the night – the Wildcats extended their lead to 35-10.
• The Wildcats would regain possession only a play later at the Lumberjacks’ 22-yard line, as Randall Evans forced a fumble for the first turnover of the game for either side. Jones took over from there, running the ball three-consecutive times to the tune of 22 yards and his second touchdown run of the night – this one from four yards out to make the score 42-10.
• Forcing a turnover of their own after Collin Garrett picked off a tipped Waters’ pass, Stephen F. Austin closed the gap to 42-16 as Johnson scampered in for a 30-yard score.
• The fourth quarter saw K-State sit its starters and close out the game scoring 13 unanswered points thanks to two Jack Cantele field goals and a Joe Hubener to Steven West 15-yard connection – first career visits to pay dirt for both Wildcats.

• Two key areas dominated by K-State helped sway the decision in its favor: possession and turnovers. The Wildcats held the ball for 37:45 minutes, while Stephen F. Austin had possession for only 22:15. In fact, K-State had four drives of 10 plays or greater, while the Lumberjacks had one. Penalties also played a major role, as SFA racked up 10-for-130 compared to the Wildcats’ 3-for-15.
• Helping that gaudy possession number was a stellar performance by the Wildcats on the ground. Along with Waters’ 55 on the ground, K-State got solid performances from both Jones and Robinson, who averaged 6.9 and 4.5 yards per carry, respectively. The 240 total yards on the ground for the ‘Cats were the most since they carded 291 against the Red Raiders on Nov. 9 of last year.

• “I don’t want to take away the positives and all of the good things the guys did. I would probably dwell on the things that weren’t so good. Overall, I thought we played reasonably well offensively…Defensively we have some work to do.” Head coach Bill Snyder on the season-opening effort.
• “It was awesome. I was so excited to see those guys get out there and play. They made some great plays tonight. Our running backs were running crazy and seeing the holes great. Then our receivers were stepping up their game, and we needed them too so that was a good sign,” Quarterback Jake Waters on the new additions to the offense.

The Wildcats will now shift their focus to the team’s first Big 12 Conference game of the season against Iowa State next Saturday in Ames, Iowa. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT. and can be seen on Fox Sports 1, as K-State will be looking to make it seven-straight against the Cyclones.

Red Raiders Top Central Arkansas, 42-35, in Season Opener

Davis Webb threw for 452 yards and four touchdowns to lead Texas Tech to a 42-35 win over Central Arkansas Saturday night.

The sophomore quarterback also had two interceptions, a fifth what he threw all last season.

Webb completed 39 of 52 passes and threw TDs of 6, 5 and 70 yards. The 70-yarder early in the fourth quarter was a career high for Webb and receiver Bradley Marquez.

Central Arkansas (0-1) of the Football Championship Subdivision was ahead midway through the second quarter. Once Texas Tech led, the Bears pulled within 42-35 late in the game when backup quarterback Ryan Howard threw an 8-yard TD to Damien Watts.

Bears starting QB Taylor Reed threw for 140 yards and scored on a 1-yard run.

DeAndre Washington of Texas Tech (1-0) rushed for a career-high 104 yards on 20 carries. The team beat last season's rushing average by 66 yards.

Marquez had two touchdown catches, grabbing a 27-yarder from Webb about 7 minutes after the first.

The Red Raiders came out after halftime and put together an 11-play scoring drive. Webb found Reginald Davis over the middle on a 5-yard slant to put Texas Tech up 28-16.

Webb hit Bradley Marquez on a crossing route and he scampered along the near sideline for a 70-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to put the Red Raiders up 35-21.

The Bears kept plugging, scoring after each of the Red Raiders touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Early in the week, Red Raiders coached Kliff Kingsbury said his goals for the game were to reduce penalties and turnovers. Last season the Red Raiders had 18 interceptions (113th in nation) and the team lost 15 fumbles (116th).

Webb, who had nine interceptions in 10 games last season, had two before halftime. Both picks seemed to come on plays where Webb forced the pass. Both picks led to scores for the Bears.

Texas Tech finished with 114 yards on 15 penalties; last year they averaged eight penalites and 75.2 yards per game.

Webb's first pick came on first down at the Bears 11-yard line. Webb rolled to left and tried to force the ball to Devin Lauderdale, who was being covered by Prince Ene. The ball popped up and was intercepted by Dawson Hadnot.

From there, the Bears put together a 12-play drive to go up 10-7.

Webb's second interception came when he tried to hit Jakeem Grant on the far sideline. There wasn't a lot of space to get it to Grant and the ball was picked off by Artez Williams at Texas Tech's 40. Williams returned it to the Red Raiders 2-yard line, and Willie Matthews took it in on the first play to put Central Arkansas up 16-7 early in the second half.

Boykin's Three Touchdowns Lead TCU Past Samford, 48-14

Trevone Boykin passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third, leading TCU to a 48-14 victory over FCS Samford in the season opener for both teams on Saturday.
Boykin completed 29 of 41 passes for 320 yards. His touchdown passes covered 38 yards to Kolby Listenbee and 19 yards to David Porter. Boykin's scoring run came from 1 yard.

Samford scored on a 2-yard touchdown run by Denzel Williams late in first half and a 55-yard interception return by Jamerson Blount with five minutes to play.

TCU piled up 555 total yards, including 200 by eight different rushers, while holding Samford to 143.

Samford defensive coordinator Bill D'Ottavio served as head coach in the absence of Pat Sullivan, who didn't travel while recovering from neck surgery.

Listenbee finished the game with three catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns.

TCU, coming off its first losing season since 2004, scored touchdowns on two of its first three possessions on a 2-yard run by B.J. Catalon and Listenbee's 38-yard catch.

Listenbee raced down the left sideline and beat James Bradberry in one-on-one coverage midway through the first quarter, diving for the ball near the goal line.

The touchdown pass to Porter immediately followed a TCU interception deep in Bulldogs territory. Ranthony Texada grabbed the ball in front of Gavin Sinclair near the right sideline, but the ball popped loose when Texada was hit. Paul Dawson caught it in midair and was tackled at the Samford 19.

TCU added fourth-quarter touchdowns on a 7-yard run by Trevorris Johnson and a 2-yard pass to Listenbee from backup quarterback Matt Joeckel.

Samford put together a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped by Williams running around right end for a touchdown with 3:30 remaining in the half. More than half of the Bulldogs' 143 total yards came on that possession.

Frogs kicker Jaden Oberkrom converted field goals of 22 and 25 yards.

TCU was led in rushing by Catalon with 38 yards on 10 carries.

The multi-talented Boykin moved from quarterback to receiver in 2013, starting the opener against LSU at that position. When senior quarterback Casey Pachall was sidelined with a broken non-passing arm in mid-September, Boykin made six starts at quarterback.

During the past week, TCU head coach Gary Patterson refused to say whether Boykin or Joeckel, a senior transfer, would start at quarterback. Joeckel joined the program in June after spending the past four years at Texas A&M, where he backed up Johnny Manziel for past two seasons and had one year of eligibility remaining.

Joeckel played the final nine minutes, throwing one touchdown and one interception.

TCU hasn't lost to a team from a lower division since the 27-24 overtime loss to Northwestern State in 2001, Patterson's first home game as head coach.

Sullivan was TCU's head coach 1992-97, and his '94 team won a share of the Southwest Conference championship. That team was honored at halftime, with about 50 players in attendance along with Sullivan's wife, Jean, and other family members.

Samford running back Krondis Larry was carried off the field after his left leg was tucked awkwardly during a tackle and didn't return to the game.

Frogs receiver Cameron Echols-Luper left the field during the fourth quarter on crutches.

OU Routs Louisiana Tech in Opener

Trevor Knight passed for 252 yards and a touchdown and Keith Ford had 117 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns to help No. 4 Oklahoma defeat Louisiana Tech 48-16 on Saturday night.

Ford ran for 51 yards and caught four passes for 66 yards for the Sooners, who rolled to a 31-0 lead in the second quarter of the season opener for both teams. Samaje Perine ran for 78 yards and a touchdown and Alex Ross ran for two scores for the Sooners.

Zack Sanchez led Oklahoma's defense with an interception and a blocked field goal. Oklahoma linebacker Jordan Evans was ejected in the second quarter for targeting when he tried to make a play against Louisiana Tech quarterback Cody Sokol, but the Sooners remained dominant.

Sokol, an Iowa transfer in his first career start, passed for 191 yards and two touchdowns for Louisiana Tech.

Oklahoma scored on its first four possessions.

On Oklahoma's first drive, Knight bought time and flipped an 8-yard completion to Dimitri Flowers on fourth-and-2, then Ford rumbled 22 yards down the left sideline on the next play to open the scoring.

Knight found Sterling Shepard for a 16-yard touchdown on Oklahoma's second possession to put the Sooners up 14-0. Shepard, who finished with four catches for 49 yards, passed his late father, Derrick Shepard, on the school's all-time receiving yardage list.

Late in the first quarter, after Evans was ejected, Sanchez blocked a field goal to give the Sooners good field position. Oklahoma took advantage with a 5-yard touchdown run by Ford that pushed the lead to 21-0 with 33 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

After Sanchez intercepted Sokol, Michael Hunnicutt's 39-yard field goal pushed the Sooners' lead to 24-0 early in the second quarter.

After Ross scored again, Tech finally got on the board when Jonathan Barnes made a 36-yard field goal with four seconds left in the first half to trim Oklahoma's lead to 31-3 at halftime.

Oklahoma held the Bulldogs to 89 yards in the first half, and Tech got 56 of them on their final possession before the break. The Sooners gained 270 yards in the first half and scored on all but one possession before the break.

Ford hauled in a 29-yard pass and held on after taking a vicious hit, then Ross capped the possession with an 8-yard touchdown run to push the Sooners ahead 38-3.

Dixon's 6-yard touchdown catch gave the Bulldogs their first touchdown, but they still trailed 41-10.

LSU rallies, overcomes late deficit to top Badgers

Kenny Hilliard scored on a 28-yard touchdown run to cap a fourth-quarter rally for No. 13 LSU in a 28-24 win over No. 14 Wisconsin at NRG Stadium on Saturday night.

The Tigers trailed 24-21 when Jalen Mills intercepted Tanner McEvoy's pass at the LSU 47 with 11:04 left. Hilliard ran for 53 yards on the ensuing drive, capping it with a sprint through a hole on the right side.

The Tigers extended the nation's longest regular-season nonconference winning streak to 46 games after coming back from a 24-7 deficit in the fourth quarter.

The Badgers seemed to have the game in hand after Corey Clement scored in the third quarter. Colby Delahoussaye kicked two field goals and Anthony Jennings threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to John Diarse to start LSU's rally. Jennings hit Trey Quinn for a 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to three.

The Badgers dominated the game until the sudden turn of events in the final quarter. Wisconsin held LSU to 16 yards rushing and six first downs in the first half and Melvin Gordon opened the second half with a 63-yard run to set up Clement's 2-yard TD run with 12:24 remaining.

Gordon finished with 147 yards on 16 carries.

After Clement scored, Jennings found Travin Dural for a 44-yard gain to the Wisconsin 8. But LSU settled for a 30-yard field goal by Delahoussaye. Delahoussaye tacked on a 47-yard field goal later in the third quarter to close the gap to 24-13.

Hillard finished with 110 yards rushing after being held to 11 in the first half.

Jennings threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Dural in the first half and for most of the game, it seemed like it might be the lone highlight for LSU. The Badgers' defense, which lost eight starters from last season, held the Tigers to 136 yards in the first half and also forced a fumble which led to another score.

LSU trailed 17-7 at halftime and then was called for a delay of game penalty on the opening kickoff of the third quarter. Gordon then broke a 63-yard run straight up the middle to set up Clements' run.

Early on, the Badgers' offensive line dominated and the defense shut down LSU's running back trio of Hilliard, Terrance Magee and freshman Leonard Fournette.

Gordon had nine carries for 64 yards in the first quarter, including a 20-yarder to the LSU 45. On the next play, McEvoy faked another handoff to Gordon and gave it to receiver Reggie Love, who weaved through the LSU defense for a 45-yard score. The Badgers have led the nation in 40-plus yard runs in each of the last two seasons.

A 22-yard scramble by McEvoy set up a 51-yard field goal by Rafael Gaglianone and Wisconsin led 10-0.

On LSU's next play from scrimmage, Jennings rolled to his right and lofted a pass over two Wisconsin defenders to Dural, who sprinted for an 80-yard score. Otherwise, the Tigers' offense could do nothing right.

They started a drive early in the second quarter with a false start penalty and then Travis Dickson took a short pass from Jennings and fumbled at the LSU 24. Gordon found another big hole and scored from 14 yards out with 7:36 left in the half.

Tight end DeSean Smith dropped an easy pass and Jennings badly overthrew Dural on the Tigers' next series. Miles turned to freshman Brandon Harris for a series and that didn't change anything - he was sacked on third down and LSU punted again.

After Clement scored, Jennings found Dural for a 44-yard gain to the Wisconsin 8. But LSU settled for a 30-yard field goal by Delahoussaye. Delahoussaye tacked on a 47-yard field goal later in the third quarter to close the gap to 24-13.

Wisconsin defensive end Konrad Zagzebski left in the first quarter with an apparent neck injury. He was taken off the field on a stretcher. Nose guard Warren Herring left in the third quarter with an apparent right knee injury.

Final: FSU 37, OK State 31

Top-ranked Florida State absorbed the best shot Oklahoma State could muster Saturday night at AT&T Stadium, then countered with the late knockout blow.

Two fourth-quarter defensive stops and a back-breaking 50-yard touchdown pass from Jameis Winston to Rashad Greene delivered the Seminoles a 37-31 season-opening victory in the AdvoCare Cowboys Classic.

“We didn’t play well; like we wanted,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “A lot of credit goes to Oklahoma State, but we still made critical plays when we had to make critical plays. And there’s something to that.”

None were bigger than the one cornerback P.J. Williams made with 4:41 remaining and the Seminoles clinging to a 30-24 lead.

Upending OSU quarterback J.W. Walsh, Williams forced and recovered a fumble at the Seminoles’ 48. Two plays later, Greene corralled Winston’s pass, split two Cowboys defenders, racing untouched for a score to cap his career-best performance.

Roberto Aguayo’s third field goal of the night on the previous possession – set up by a Mario Edwards Jr. sack and intentional grounding penalty which forced an OSU punt - provided the Seminoles with a 30-24 lead. His point-after following Greene’s score provided a 13-point cushion that voided a late touchdown run by Walsh.

“It changed the momentum and gave us the ball back where we could get points,” said Fisher, after Edwards and DeMarcus Walker chased Walsh into a sack and a net loss of 14 yards after the grounding penalty.

Winston completed 25 of 40 attempts for 370 yards, and Greene collected 11 receptions for a career-high 203 yards as the Seminoles set a school record with their 18th consecutive victory.

Jalen Ramsey and Terrance Smith had 12 tackles each to lead the Seminole defense, which surrendered 364 total yards. FSU managed 476 in total offense, despite converting only 4 of 14 third down plays.

“We had a couple opportunities to put the game away, and that just comes with it being the first game,” said Winston, assessing the opener. “We have to get better. That’s an eye-opener.”

The action-packed finish offset a laborious first half effort by the Seminoles that only ESPN Gameday celebrity picker “Stone Cold” Steve Austin could appreciate.

After jumping out to a 17-0 lead, the Seminoles were forced to dig in after the Cowboys twice cut the lead to three points in the second half.

Winston’s 28-yard touchdown gallop – the longest run of his career - with 5:28 remaining in the third quarter gave the Noles 27-17 lead. Walsh countered with a 24-yard touchdown run to trim the margin back to 27-24.

That’s when the FSU defense, which limited the Cowboys to 129 total yards in the first half, dug in to seal the victory.

Austin, the former professional wrestling champion-turned-actor, picked the Seminoles to win with conviction earlier in the day on the Gameday set.

He had not counted on Winston tossing two interceptions before intermission, nor the Seminoles managing just 27 rushing yards on 11 carries against an OSU defense with seven new starters.

The Seminoles jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead on Aguayo’s 36-yard field goal and Nate Andrews’ 9-yard interception return for a touchdown, which came in a 14-second span.

Winston looked very much like the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner on FSU’s lone touchdown drive of the half, completing 4-of-6 attempts for 80 yards. The big play came when Winston rifled a deep out to Greene for 51 yards to the OSU 29.

Two plays later, on his first career carry, redshirt sophomore tailback Mario Pender bulled his way into the end zone at the end of 11-yard run as the Noles pushed their lead to 17-0 with 8:19 to play in the half.

Surprisingly, the 94-yard scoring drive – the longest in a college game at AT&T Stadium – seemed to awaken the Cowboys.

Oklahoma State, which had not sustained a drive longer than eight plays on its first five possessions, responded in momentum-changing fashion. Picking up the pace between snaps, the Cowboys marched 75 yards on 11 plays, five of which went to speedster Tyreek Hill for 44 yards.

Desmond Roland’s 1-yard touchdown run with 3:58 remaining in the half pulled the Cowboys within 17-7.

Winston’s second interception, by Ashton Lampkin with 29 seconds remaining, led to Ben Grogan’s half-ending 37-yard field goal to trim the lead to 17-10.

No. 23 Tar Heels Roll Past Liberty, 56-29

Marquise Williams accounted for four touchdowns while Jeff Schoettmer returned an interception for a score during North Carolina's game-turning flurry, helping the No. 23 Tar Heels beat Liberty 56-29 on Saturday night.
Schoettmer's 19-yard return came during a run of four touchdowns in fewer than 4 minutes, which jolted the Tar Heels out of a sluggish and mistake-prone performance in the season opener.

Liberty led 22-21 with about 6 minutes left in the third quarter before Williams found Mack Hollins for a 33-yard scoring pass. Williams later scored on a 15-yard keeper and backup Mitch Trubisky followed with his first career TD pass for a 49-22 lead with 2:06 left in the quarter.

That stunning turnaround couldn't have happened without the maligned defense - perhaps UNC's biggest question mark coming into the season - forcing three turnovers in the third and setting up the sputtering offense with short scoring drives against Liberty.

The win capped a bumpy game week for UNC, which is ranked to enter a season for the first time since 2010. Coach Larry Fedora suspended four defensive players Wednesday, including two starters, for a violation of team policy without specifying what rules were broken.

For a time Saturday night, it looked as though the Tar Heels were flirting a surprising home loss to a championship subdivision team. But the defense allowed just 53 yards in the third quarter to provide a needed spark and finished with six takeaways for the game.

As for the offense, Williams got the start after battling with Trubisky for the starting quarterback job through preseason camp, though the team rotated them for much of the night. Williams shook off two badly thrown interceptions and finished with 169 yards passing with two TD throws to go with two scoring runs - the first one giving UNC a 21-15 lead with 28 seconds left in the first half.

Todd Macon ran for two touchdowns and D.J. Abnar added one for Liberty, a Big South Conference member playing a ranked bowl subdivision opponent for the first time. Jacob Hagen also returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown and the 22-21 lead with 9:25 left in the third before the Tar Heels finally kicked into gear.

Duke Tops Elon 52-13 in Season Opener

Duke redshirt senior quarterback Anthony Boone completed 22-of-33 passes for 247 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Blue Devils to a season-opening 52-13 victory over Elon in front of 31,213 fans at Wallace Wade Stadium.

The 52 points are the fourth most scored by the Blue Devils under head coach David Cutcliffe and the most scored by Duke in a season opener since 1954. Duke compiled 567 yards of offense with a balanced 292 through the air and 275 on the ground.

Jamison Crowder led the receiving corps with seven catches for 93 yards, including two for touchdowns, to push his career catches total to 205. He is the third receiver in Duke history to amass 200-plus career catches, joining Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon. Max McCaffrey had a career receiving day with five catches for 65 yards.

The running game was led by Josh Snead and Shaquille Powell with 74 and 54 yards, respectively.

Devon Edwards paced the defense with seven tackles, including four solo stops. Bryon Fields had six tackles and Carlos Wray made three stops and recorded his first career sack.

Duke, after forcing Elon into a three-and-out on its opening possession, marched 61 yards over 11 plays to get on the scoreboard for the first time in 2014 with a four-yard touchdown pass from Boone to Issac Blakeney. Shaquille Powell carried the ball for 34 yards and Blakeney hauled in 22 yards receiving, including the one-handed grab in the back left corner of the end zone, to highlights Duke’s opening drive of 2014.

Elon answered with a 61-yard drive that finished with a 36-yard field goal from John Gallagher to pull within a score. Duke punted for the first time of the afternoon on its next possession to go into the first break with a 7-3 lead.

Coming into the game two catches shy of the 200-catch benchmark, Crowder made his second grab of the evening count. On the first play from scrimmage, Boone found Crowder streaking down the right sideline for a 46-yard strike to put the Blue Devils in front 14-3 early in the second quarter.

The Blue Devils continued to roll offensively with Powell finding the end zone for the first time of the season with a two-yard rush up the middle, and Blakeney pulling in a 19-yard toss from Boone to send Duke into halftime with a 28-6 lead.

Duke racked up 205 yards of offense in the second quarter with Boone passing for 129 and Josh Snead amassing 52 yards on the ground. Boone finished the first half 13-of-19 with 170 yards and three touchdowns.

Defensively, the Blue Devils held the Phoenix to just 10 first downs, 165 yards of offense and two field goals in the first 30 minutes.

Boone and the Duke offense continued to fire on all cylinders in the third quarter. After scoring on the opening drive of the period – a 13-yard pass to Crowder – Duke added a 49-yard Ross Martin field goal for a 38-6 advantage.

Duke redshirt sophomore quarterback Thomas Sirk came off the bench to add a pair of rushing touchdowns for the Blue Devils. Sirk finished 5-of-7 for 40 yards.

Elon, trailing 45-6 in the fourth quarter, tacked on its lone touchdown in the fourth quarter, despite being held to just 132 yards of offense for much of the second half.

Duke hits the road next to take on Troy next Saturday, September 6th at 7 p.m.

Hardy Helps Lead East Carolina Past N.C. Central 52-7

On a night when star senior receiver Justin Hardy snared a pair of touchdown passes and became East Carolina's all-time leader in receptions, it was a pass he threw that will be remembered as the highlight of the 2014 season-opener Saturday night at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Hardy's 41-yard pass on a double reverse, hitting a wide-open Isaiah Jones with 3:27 left in the first quarter vaulted the slow-starting Pirates ahead 10-7 and ignited what ended in a 52-7 rout of N.C. Central before a crowd of 42,758 and an ESPNews audience.

"I think everybody thought it was going to be a magical beginning," fifth-year head coach Ruffin McNeill said. "Everyone has to remember we want to play our best game in our last game, like last year. I thought our offense did a good job of staying in what (offensive coordinator) Lincoln (Riley) wanted. We made adjustments and stayed steady. What I'm really proud of is the commitment to the team concept."

Hardy finished with eight catches for 87 yards, giving him 274 receptions for his career. His leaping 17-yard grab of a Shane Carden pass in the second quarter gave him 269 and pushed him past Dwayne Harris.

Hardy had touchdown catches of 20 yards and 1 yard, both in the second quarter to help the Pirates to a commanding 31-7 halftime lead. He and Carden have now hooked up 20 times in their record-setting careers, the most among active tandems in college football.

Carden, pressured early by a blitzing Eagle defense, found his rhythm and completed 18 of 27 passes for 203 yards in the first half. He finished 26 of 37 before redshirt freshman Kurt Benkert stepped in at the start of the fourth quarter for his first action. Benkert, from Cape Coral, Fla., connected on six of eight passes for 50 yards and capped the scoring with a spinning nine-yard run with 1:22 to play.

The Pirates piled up 582 yards of total offense, the sixth-highest total at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and the second-most under McNeill.

ECU, limited to 22 rushing yards on 11 carries in the first half, plowed out 186 in the second half to finish with 208. The freshman duo of Marquez Grayson (seven carries, 78 yards) and Anthony Scott (seven carries, 61 yards) and junior Chris Hairston (three carries, 33 yards) carried the bulk of the load in the final two quarters.

Scott scored on a 38-yard sprint with 6:40 to go to put the Pirates up 45-7. Grayson had a 42-yard run to set up the final TD by Benkert.

The Pirate defense, led by Zeek Bigger's 11 tackles, did its part against the overmatched Eagles and held an opponent without an offensive touchdown for the first time since a 24-3 win over No. 8 West Virginia on Sept. 6, 2008.

The Pirates forced just one turnover, but it turned into quick points. With the Eagles pinned deep, junior defensive end Johnathan White disrupted an attempted pitch by quarterback Quinn Billerman, and redshirt freshman Joe Allely recovered at the 2-yard line. On second down, after a pass interference penalty and rush attempt, Carden found Hardy in the front of the end zone.

Carden distributed the ball to six different receivers. He moved up to third on the school's all-time completion list with 686, just one behind James Pinkney. His 59 career touchdown passes trails only David Garrard (60) and Dominique Davis (62).

Jones, a sophomore building on a stellar freshman season, had six catches for 108 yards by halftime and finished with career highs of 10 receptions and 150 yards receiving.

The Pirates were unable to match the energy of a festive pregame in the opening minutes and found themselves in a 7-0 hole after C.J. Moore scooped up a Breon Allen fumble on ECU's first rushing attempt and ran 31 yards. The Eagles would not come close to generating any more points as ECU's defense got physical and clamped down.

Warren Harvey's 34-yard field goal got the Pirates within 7-3. A crushing hit by sophomore cornerback DaShaun Amos on a swing pass stymied the Eagles' next drive and energized the purple-and-gold clad fans. A 15-yard penalty only briefly stalled the Pirates before Hardy's momentum-swinging touchdown pass.

Allen's 5-yard touchdown run and Hardy's two scoring catches in the second quarter put the opener well in hand.

Now it's on to a three-game challenge of South Carolina, Virginia Tech and North Carolina in successive weeks.

"I'm very proud of our team and how we played together," McNeill added. "The only expectations our team is worried about are the ones we have. My expectations were met tonight. By our kids because I know how hard first games are. I was very proud of how they handled it."

Mack's Big Night Propels USF to Victory in Opener

USF unleashed the Mack attack in Saturday’s season-opening 36-31 victory over Western Carolina before a crowd of 31,651 at Raymond James Stadium.

Marlon Mack tied program records with 275 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the way to setting a new USF record with 280 all-purpose yards in the most productive game ever for a USF freshman running back.

“I told our football team before the game, ‘Some people show up under the spotlight and some people run away.’ The spotlight came and he showed up and he showed out. It was good to see,” head coach Willie Taggart said. “We said all training camp the kid is special. We saw that in training camp. We saw that on the field when we recruited him and he didn’t let us down tonight.”

Mack, a true freshman out of Booker High School in Sarasota, had three rushes of 50-plus yards and his 60-yarder gave the Bulls their first lead with 4:57 remaining in the third quarter. The newest American Athletic Conference record-holder for rushing yards in a game gave USF the breathing room it needed with a 56-yard touchdown run that helped the Bulls grab a 36-24 lead with 4:40 remaining.

USF’s 294-yard rushing attack paved the way for the victory after the Bulls’ defense set the tone by creating havoc early in the first quarter.

USF forced 25 turnovers on the way to becoming a top-25 defense in 2013 and the Bulls picked up right where they left off against Western Carolina even after having to wait 1 hour, 9 minutes during a lightning delay. Sophomore linebacker Nigel Harris (Tampa) forced a fumble that was recovered by Todd Chandler (Miami) on the first drive of the game. It marked the second forced fumble by Harris in his promising, young career as a Bull after he tied for seventh on the team with 37 tackles in 2013.

The Bulls forced their second turnover just 3 minutes, 4 seconds into the game when safety Jamie Byrd (Dade City) intercepted a pass at the Western Carolina 47-yard line. Byrd posted a game-high 11 tackles in his USF debut after becoming an NJCAA All-American at Iowa Western Community College in 2013.

USF failed to score on its first two drives and Western Carolina got on the scoreboard on its third driving following an interception by sophomore Mike White at the Catamounts’ 32-yard line. Quarterback Troy Mitchell capped off a 12-play, 58-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run with 5:59 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Bulls responded with a 47-yard field goal from Marvin Kloss (Naples, Fla.) eight plays after senior Chris Dunkley (Pahokee, Fla.) set a new career high with a 41-yard kickoff return that started the Bulls on their own 46. Kloss became USF’s first-ever player up for a major college football award by becoming a Groza Award finalist last season after leading the nation with 11 field goals of 40 yards or more and four of 50-plus yards.

Western Carolina’s offense continued to stay in a groove on its fourth drive of the game that resulted in a 14-3 lead. The Catamounts drove 88 yards down the field and scored on their ninth play when running back Darius Ramsay found the end zone from 2 yards out as time expired in the first quarter.

Another big return from Dunkley put the Bulls in a position to chip away at the deficit midway through the second quarter. Dunkley’s 24-yard punt return set the Bulls up at their 48 and senior tight end Sean Price got the offense into the red zone with a career long 32-yard reception. Kloss connected on a 33-yard field goal to cut Western Carolina’s lead to 14-6 with 8:08 to go before halftime.

USF found the end zone for the first time this season in explosive fashion less than 3 minutes later when Mack made a cut and jetted 62 yards for a touchdown. It marked USF’s longest touchdown run since Marcus Shaw’s 80-yarder against McNeese State in the 2013 season opener and Mack’s big play stands as the 10th longest run in program history.

Mack racked up 99 rushing yards on 10 carries in the first half and he wound up tying the school record of 275 yards originally set by Andre Hall at UAB in 2004. Mack shattered the USF freshman rushing record of 179 yards set by Rafael Williams in 1997 and he now owns the program record in yards per carry (11.5) among players with 20 rushes or more in a game.

“He has great vision as a back,” senior center Austin Reiter said. “He really makes our job a lot easier because when there are creases and whatnot his vision really gets him on the right track. As you can see, he broke a couple free tonight.”

Western Carolina grabbed 17-13 advantage on a 33-yard field goal by Richard Sigmon with 1:03 left in the half, but the Bulls’ offense snuck in one more score before the teams headed into the locker room. Senior Andre Davis extended his school record streak of 31 games with a reception by hauling in a 44-yard pass that got the Bulls to the Catamounts’ 15-yard line. Kloss’ 26-yard field goal cut the deficit to 17-16 with a 24 seconds remaining.

“I’ve been preaching that to our guys all training camp, all offseason, about adversity and how to deal with it. I was really proud of how our guys dealt with it,” Taggart said. “I didn’t see anybody put their heads down on the sideline when it was tough. I didn’t hear anybody arguing with someone else. I heard a lot of guys encouraging each other and it paid off for us.”

Demetrius Hill’s first-career sack stalled Western Carolina’s first drive of the second half and another dazzling play by Mack gave the Bulls their first lead with 4:57 remaining in the third quarter. The former Booker High School star ignited the crowd with a 60-yard touchdown run that gave him 174 rushing yards with plenty of football left in his superb collegiate debut.

Mack was back in the end zone with 12:21 remaining in the fourth quarter when he punched it in from 3 yards out to cap off a nine-play, 87-yard drive that gave the Bulls a 30-17 lead. Mack rushed for 20 yards on the drive while White started to heat up through the air. The sophomore quarterback from Fort Lauderdale found sophomore Rodney Adams for 33 yards to get the Bulls near midfield and connected with senior Deonte Welch for a 35-yard strike that put USF on the Western Carolina 5-yard line.

White went 9-for-26 through the air for 181 yards and posted a career-high rush of 17 yards. Junior Steven Bench replaced White late in the game and went 1-for-1 for 10 yards.

Mack’s 56-yard touchdown run helped give the Bulls a 36-24 lead with 4:40 remaining and his ability to tie Ben Williams for the school record of four touchdowns helped the program hold on. Western Carolina capped off the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown catch by Terryon Robinson with 1:31 to play.

Next up for the Bulls is a test against Maryland on Saturday, Sept. 6 at Raymond James Stadium. The first-ever meeting between the programs is set for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and the game will be broadcast nationally on the CBS Sports Network.