Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Warhawks Score in Closing Seconds to Outlast Idaho, 38-31

With the score tied and only 1:11 left in the game, Pete Thomas and the Warhawks (2-0) offense marched down the field 74 yards, capped by a Centarius Donald rushing touchdown to catapult ULM to a 38-31 victory over Idaho (0-1) on a stormy Saturday night in JPS Field at Malone Stadium.

The Warhawks registered their second consecutive game winning drive, which was set up by a 36 yard reception from Tyler Cain that landed the offense in the red zone. After a rush and a penalty, Donald found the end zone on a one-yard scramble up the middle with nine seconds remaining.

The triumph improves ULM’s record to 2-0 for the first time since 1993. The game featured a two hour and six minute lightning delay with 3:32 left in the first quarter and the Warhawks leading Idaho, 14-7.

Thomas completed 24 passes on 44 attempts for 384 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Six of his passes and one touchdown were caught by Ajalen Holley for 175 yards.

Donald garnered 20 carries for 111 yards and three touchdowns, eclipsing the 100-yard mark for the second consecutive game.

The ULM defense combined for 80 tackles with four sacks, six tackles for loss and two interceptions. The defensive effort was led by Justin Backus with 10 tackles and Hunter Kissinger who added eight tackles, one sack and one interception.

For the Vandals, Matt Linehan went 26-47 for 324 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Idaho’s Joshua McCain caught eight passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns, while Deon Watson posted seven receptions for 98 yards and one touchdown. Jerrel Brown chipped in 117 yards on 22 rushes.

Idaho struck on its first drive as they drove 75 yards for a touchdown. Early on Linehan pitched the ball to Richard Montgomery who rushed to the ULM 35 yard line. On the next play, Justin Backus appeared to have stripped the ball after a completed pass to Justin Podrabsky, but an official review overturned the call on the field and Idaho kept the ball. Three plays later, Linehan found McCain for a nine yard touchdown. Austin Rehkow’s PAT secured a 7-0 lead for the Vandals.

ULM drew even with the Vandals on its second series during a five play, 81 yard drive. Thomas completed a 13 yard pass to Alec Osborne to the ULM 32 yard line. After a 10 yard scramble by Donald, Thomas found Holly for a 54 yard bomb that put the Warhawks at the Idaho two yard line. Thomas continued his accuracy on the next snap as he found Osborne deep in the left corner for a two yard touchdown. Justin Manton’s extra point made it a 7-7 game with 6:03 left in the first quarter.

The ULM defense remained strong as they forced another three and out on the next drive. The Warhawks took their first lead of the game on the next possession. The Thomas-Holley combination proved vital again as Thomas connected with Holley for 58 yards and a touchdown, the wide receiver’s first of the season and sixth of his career.

The Warhawks came out of the lightning delay firing on all cylinders. Following a three and out, Donald notched the ninth rushing touchdown of his career as he raced 34 yards after a handoff from Thomas. The extra point from Manton increased ULM’s lead to 21-7.

The Vandals cut into the Warhawks lead in the second quarter. Elijhaa Penny capped a 10 play drive with a three yard touchdown to make it 21-14.

In the second quarter, Linehan completed a 10 yard pass up the middle to McCain for a touchdown to tie the game at 21-21 with 6:52 left in the half.

Justin Manton booted a 27-yard field goal late in the second quarter to give the Warhawks a 24-21 advantage heading into the half.

In the third quarter, the ULM defense regained its momentum as they picked off Linehan to force its first turnover the game. The interception by Kissinger gave the Warhawks their 28th straight game with a turnover, the nation’s second longest streak.

The defense’s impact play turned out to be costly for the Vandals as Donald dashed up the middle for a 21 yard touchdown to extend the ULM lead to 31-21 with 8:31 left in the third quarter.

The Vandals tacked on a field goal to cut the deficit to 31-24 with 13:59 remaining.

Linehan led an 11 play, 64 yard drive that ended in a 32 yard pass to Deon Watson for a touchdown to draw even at 31-31 with 4:22 left on the clock.

Before Thomas’ sixth career game winning drive, the Vandals had one last chance on their own 40 line, but failed their hail mary attempt as Cody Robinson registered his first career interception as the clock expired.

The Warhawks will travel to Baton Rouge next Saturday to face LSU at 6:00 p.m. on ESPNU.

ULM prevails

There was thunder and lightning and heartbreak in Louisiana Saturday night for the Idaho Vandals, who lost, 38-31, in the final seconds to Louisiana-Monroe in their season and Sun Belt Conference opener.

The game came down to the wire after Idaho tied the score at 31 on Deon Watson’s 32-yard reception from Matt Linehan, who had an outstanding collegiate debut with 324 yards passing and three TD strikes.

Coach Paul Petrino noted the high cost of penalties and turnovers, but he also noted the determined play of the Vandals. In amassing 324 yards, Linehan – a redshirt freshman and the son of former Vandal quarterback Scott Linehan (a Dallas Cowboys’ assistant) connected on 26 of 47 passes. His favorite targets were senior Joshua McCain, the quarterback turned receiver, who had eight catches for 93 yards, Watson (seven for 98) and Richard Montgomery (six for 73).

Listen to Petrino's post-game comments.

Defensively, junior linebackers Marc Millan and Irving Steele had 14 stops each with senior safety Bradley Njoku accounting for 10.

All-American punter Austin Rehkow lived up to his reputation with an average of 48.3 yards on is seven punts. He also kicked off, booted a 28-yard field goal and was good on all four PATs he attempted.

Once again, the game was held up by lightning.

Idaho scored first but Louisiana-Monroe scored back-to-back to take a 14-7 lead before the game was halted because of lightning in the area. The delay began at 6:43 p.m. (Central) and ended at 8:49 p.m.

The Vandals went to the air on their first drive and capped it with a nine-yard Linehan-to-McCain scoring pass with 11:42 left in the first quarter. Linehan was four-for-four for 79 yards on the seven-play drive, which was highlighted by a 40-yard pickup with a Linehan-to-Montgomery connection on the first play.

The defense was equally as effective during its first time on the field by holding the Warhawks to a negative four yards and a punt.

Idaho stalled – the result of a sack and two penalties, and the Vandals punted on their next possession, which set up ULM’s first score – a two-yard pass from Pete Thomas to Alec Osborne.

Penalties haunted the Vandals offensive and defensively on the ensuing possessions – one thwarted their own forward progress and the others gave the Warhawks a boost en route to a 77-yard scoring play on their next possession.

After the delay of two hours and six minutes, play resumed. The Vandals were stymied on their first possession but the Warhawks, using a pass interference call, scored on their first opportunity to go up 21-7 with 20 second remaining in the first quarter.

The teams traded punts, which included a 54-yarder by Austin Rehkow, before Elijhaa Penny capped a 79-yard drive to score from three yards out with 7:50 left in the first half. Rekhow’s kick made it 21-14.

Chris Edwards then intercepted Thomas and returned it 42 yards to set up the 10-yard scoring pass from Linehan to McCain – their scoring hookup of the half. With Rekhow’s kick, it was 21-21 with 6:52 left in the half.

The Warhawks went up 24-21 on Justin Manton’s 27-yard field goal with 13 second remaining in the second quarter.

ULM added to its lead when Hunter Kissinger intercepted Linehan early in the third quarter and in Idaho territory. His four-yard return to the Vandal 21 led to Centarius Donald’s scoring run with 8:36 left in the third for a 31-21 ULM lead.

The Vandals’ next drive was thwarted by another Idaho turnover – this time a fumble by McCain at the ULM 44 with 6:33 left in the third. The Warhawks drove to Idaho’s four but the Vandal defense held and they took over on downs.

Idaho marched to the ULM 11 before settling on a 28-yard field goal by Rehkow to cut the cap to 31-24 with 13:59 left in the game.

Notes

· Matt Linehan’s first collegiate pass was to Montgomery for a 40-yard pickup.

· Linehan completed his first eight passes before an incompletion.

· Chris Edwards had the Vandals’ first interception of the season – a second quarter grab that he returned 42 yards to set up Idaho’s third TD.

Louisiana Tech Offense Overpowers Cajuns, 48-20

In their first gridiron meeting since 2004, Louisiana Tech totaled 533 yards of offense and forced three Louisiana turnovers to hand the Ragin' Cajuns football team a 48-20 defeat in front of 25,607 fans Saturday night at Cajun Field.

Terrance Broadway went 19-for-31 for 150 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while rushing for 82 yards on 13 attempts. Gabe Fuselier led the Cajuns with 52 receiving yards on six catches. Louisiana recorded 415 yards on the night, 237 through the air and 178 on the ground. Trae Johnson led the Cajuns defense with nine tackles, eight being solo.

Louisiana Tech quarterback Cody Sokol went 22-for-33 for 295 yards and two touchdowns while Sterling Griffin led the Bulldogs receivers with 88 yards on three catches. On the ground, Kenneth Dixon led Louisiana Tech with 184 rushing yards on 12 carries. C.J. Cleveland paced the Bulldogs defense with 14 tackles, 10 solo.

After punter Daniel Cadona's 34-yard punt pinned the Bulldogs down at their own one-yard line in the first quarter, Dixon put Louisiana Tech (1-1) on the board first with a 99-yard touchdown run, the longest in Cajun Field history, for a 7-0 advantage with 4:25 to play in the opening period.

Louisiana (1-1) answered the Bulldogs' score with one of its own on the next drive. Broadway moved the Cajuns into Bulldog territory following a 33-yard run to the Louisiana Tech 15 late in the first period. Alonzo Harris then carried the Cajuns the rest of the way with a six-yard scamper up the middle on the first play of the second quarter to knot the game at 7-7.

After the Cajuns were halted on a fourth-and-one attempt from the Bulldog 39, Louisiana Tech put together a nine-play, 61-yard drive to go up 14-7 with 4:33 to play in the half. Sokol moved the Bulldogs across midfield with a 19-yard pass to Trent Taylor to reach the Louisiana 44-yard line. Sokol then completed five-consecutive passes for positive yardage, capping it off with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Lee.

Facing a third-and-10 from their own 10-yard line late in the first half, the Bulldogs threatened once again as Sokol found Paul Turner for 55 yards to move the ball inside the Cajuns 40-yard line. Dixon came through for Louisiana Tech, converting a third-and-three with a 19-yard gain to reach the Louisiana nine-yard line. A six-yard loss and two incomplete passes forced the Bulldogs to turn to Jonathan Barnes, who converted a 28-yard field goal to make it 17-7 Louisiana Tech heading into halftime.

The Bulldogs took little time in extending their lead in the second half as Sokol completed a 78-yard pass to Griffin for a 24-7 Louisiana Tech lead with 14:11 left in the third. With less than four minutes to play in the third quarter, a Broadway pass was taken the other way as Xavier Woods returned it 46 yards to the endzone to stretch the Bulldogs' lead to 31-7 with 3:45 to play in the third.

Louisiana Tech extended its lead further in the final period, tallying 17 points in the quarter with a 32-yard run by Dixon to cap off a nine-play, 55-yard drive before a 32-yard field goal attempt by Barnes made it 41-7 four minutes into the fourth. Following a 37-yard kickoff return by Torrey Pierce to begin the Cajuns drive at the Louisiana Tech 39, a 20-yard touchdown pass from Broadway to Effrem Reed ended the Louisiana scoring drought for a 41-14 game with 9:34 to go. The Bulldogs answered the Louisiana score with a two-yard touchdown run up the middle by Jarred Craft for a 48-14 game.

Louisiana added a score as the clock hit zero with Brooks Haack finding Fuselier for the four-yard touchdown pass for a 48-20 final.

Louisiana begins a two-game road swing next Saturday with a 3 p.m. contest against No. 15 Ole Miss at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

Duke Rallies from Early Deficit to Top Troy 34-17

Duke rallied from an early 11-point deficit to defeat Troy 34-17 Saturday night in non-conference action at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The Trojans scored on their first two possessions and held the Blue Devils to a field goal on their first two possessions to jump out to a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter. However, Duke (2-0) found the end zone three times before the end of the half to take a 24-14 lead into the break.

Ryan Kay's 29-yard field goal with 4:32 to play in the third quarter pulled Troy (0-2) within seven points, 24-17. Those would be the Trojans final points of the night while Duke added a touchdown and field goal to set the final margin.

Following a defensive stop to open the game, Brandon Silvers led Troy on an 11-play, 83-yard drive on the Trojans' first possession of the game. The redshirt freshman quarterback set up the score with 31-yard pass to B.J. Chitty down to the 2-yard line and finished it himself with a keeper one play later.

Silvers finished the game 19-of-27 for 160 yards while Dontreal Pruitt was 3-of-7 for 78 yards thanks to a 48-yard strike to Bryan Holmes. Brandon Burks led the Trojans on the ground with 52 yards on 11 carries.

Duke's second possession yielded a 24-yard field goal off the leg of Ross Martin before Troy used 13 plays to cover 83 yards for its second touchdown of the game. Jordan Chunn's 16th career rushing touchdown, which tied him for ninth all-time in Troy history, capped the drive – Chunn has scored a touchdown in eight straight games.

Anthony Boone converted a trio of third-and-long plays on Duke's ensuing possession and put the Blue Devils first touchdown on the board with a 30-yard rush. Wildcat quarterback Thomas Sirk completed a jump pass from two yards out on Duke's next possession to give the Blue Devils a 17-14 lead and Boone threw a 49-yard strike to Issac Blakeney to put Duke up 24-14.

Boone completed 27-of-41 attempts for 268 yards and a score and rushed for 47 yards and a pair of touchdowns on nine carries. Jamison Crowder had a game-high seven catches for 70 yards while Blakeney finished with five grabs for 90 yards.

The Trojans had a prime opportunity to get back in the game after the break as Chandler Worthy returned the opening kick of the half 42 yards and Burks took a screen pass 15 yards on the first play of the series. Following a 4-yard run, Silvers took back-to-back sacks forcing a Troy punt.

Following a stop by the Troy defense, the Trojans marched down to the Duke 12-yard line before the 12-play drive stalled and Kay booted his second field goal of the year.

Duke answered quickly with a seven-play touchdown drive capped by a Boone 5-yard run. The Blue Devils' final points came early in the fourth quarter on a 48-yard field goal from Martin.

David Helton led all players with 15 tackles for the Blue Devils while DeVon Edwards had 14 stops and forced a pair of fumbles. Mark Wilson led the Trojan defense with seven tackles and a sack.

Troy hosts Abilene Christian next Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast by ESPN3.

Football Wallops Campbell in Home-Opening Shutout

Simms McElfresh, Marcus Cox and Ricky Fergerson each scored two touchdowns and Appalachian State University football opened the home portion of its 2014 schedule with its largest win in 73 years, a 66-0 triumph over Campbell on Saturday evening at Kidd Brewer Stadium.

Appalachian State’s 66-point margin of victory was the fourth-largest in school history and the largest since the Mountaineers blanked Arkansas-Monticello, 67-0, on Sept. 27, 1941. Appalachian’s 66 points were the seventh-most in program history and its most since it hammered Wofford, 70-24, on Oct. 31, 2008.

App State (1-1) led 10-0 after one quarter but scored five touchdowns in the second period to grab a commanding 45-0 halftime lead.

The Mountaineers’ 35-point second quarter included a stretch of three touchdowns in 3:41 and four scores in 7:43 and was highlighted by a 52-yard interception return by Doug Middleton.

A severe storm that passed through the Boone area near the end of halftime delayed the start of the second half by 52 minutes but the Mountaineers found the end zone three times in their first five possessions after the break to close out the rout.

Appalachian State outgained Campbell (0-2), 538-95, and forced four turnovers in its first shutout since in blanked Mars Hill, 41-0, on Sept. 16, 2006.

Cox led the Mountaineers’ offensive outburst by rushing for 114 yards and two touchdowns (both from two yards out) on 20 carries. The 100-yard game was the seventh in 11 career starts for the sophomore Doak Walker Award candidate, who did not start last Saturday’s season opener at Michigan after missing much of preseason camp with a lower-body injury.

Cox’s effort was augmented by three Mountaineers who averaged at least six yards a rush — quarterback Taylor Lamb, who ran for 68 yards on five carries (13.6 avg.), Fergerson, who had 48 yards and two scores (11 and seven yards) on eight carries (6.0 avg.) and Terrence Upshaw, who amassed 41 yards and a 10-yard touchdown on just four carries (10.2 avg.).

Kameron Bryant led the way through the air, throwing for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-17 passing. Lamb added 94 yards and a touchdown on 5-of-10 passing.

McElfresh led all receivers with five catches for 81 yards, including his touchdown receptions of 12 and 39 yards. Tight end Barrett Burns added 43 yards on two catches, including a 21-yard touchdown.

Defensively, the Mountaineers racked up two sacks and seven tackles for loss in the shutout. Outside linebacker Rashaad Townes led the squad with seven tackles while Joel Ross and Stephen Machanic added interceptions to go along with Middleton’s.

Thanks in large part to App State’s stout defensive effort, the Mountaineers’ offense had an average starting field position at its own 49 yard line.

Next week, Appalachian State enjoys its first of two byes this fall before returning to action on Sept. 20 at Conference USA’s Southern Miss. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Miss.

NOTES: Appalachian State moved to 62-20-2 (.750) all-time in home openers with its 12th win in its last 14 lid-lifters at Kidd Brewer Stadium ... the Mountaineers moved to 2-0 all-time versus Campbell in the schools’ first gridiron meeting since Sept. 19, 1931 (a 20-6 Appalachian win) ... App State moved to 34-1 in its last 35 home games against in-state opponents ... the shutout was Appalachian’s 18th all-time in a home opener but its first since it blanked North Carolina A&T, 45-0, on Sept. 17, 1994 ... the Mountaineers’ 45 first-half points were the most that they scored in an opening half since they led Western Carolina, 45-21, at halftime of a 79-35 win on Nov. 10, 2007 ... Appalachian State avoided having consecutive 0-2 starts for the first time since 1992-93 and losing consecutive home openers for the first time since 1982-83 ... Appalachian committed its first turnover of the season late in the third quarter when Bryan was intercepted by Campbell’s Isaac Scott ... McElfresh’s two-touchdown game was the first of his career ... Fergerson’s touchdowns were the first of his career ... Upshaw’s touchdown run and Lamb’s touchdown pass were career firsts ... the attendance of 25,861 marked the 52nd time in its last 53 regular-season games that Appalachian State played in front of a crowd larger than the official seating capacity at Kidd Brewer Stadium (which is currently 23,150).

Football Opens Expanded #OurHouse with Dominant Performance

Georgia Southern opened the newly-expanded Allen E. Paulson Stadium in style by downing local rival Savannah State 83-9 Saturday night in the Eagles' first FBS home game in front of a crowd of 23,121.

First-year Eagle head coach Willie Fritz's team zipped up and down the field with precision most of the night, while the Georgia Southern staff played with some of its new toys, like the 852-square-foot HD video board in the East end zone.

The Eagle offense scored touchdowns on its first seven possessions, partly because the defense and special teams made Georgia Southern's average starting field position inside Savannah State territory. The only thing that could stop the Eagle offense was halftime, and the lone Georgia Southern mistakes in the first half were a missed extra point on the Eagles' fifth touchdown and a couple of penalties on punt returns late in the frame.

The Eagles rolled up 695 yards of offense, tied the school record for touchdowns with 12, scoring 10 on the ground, and did not punt in the contest. Favian Upshaw rushed eight times for 81 yards and a touchdown and threw for 53 yards and another score, while Ean Days rushed for a career-high 112 yards and scored his first two career touchdowns. Brandan Thomas logged 117 yards on the ground and scored his first career touchdown, while Devin Scott and Dennis Pritchard each rushed for their first career touchdowns.

Matt Breida had 69 rushing yards and a pair of scores, and Kentrellis Showers caught three passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns and moved into sixth place on the school's career receptions chart. Ezayi Youyoute and Montay Crockett also rushed for touchdowns.

"Our 1s did a great job when they were in there, and we saw a lot of good things from our 2s and 3s," said Fritz. "We got to play a lot of guys, and they deserve it because they work their tails off every day and you want to reward them. Every guy who dressed, and we dressed 92 of them, got a chance to play."

Ryan George led Georgia Southern with six tackles, including one for loss, while Rayquan Sam notched five and Antwione Williams had three stops with two for loss and a sack. The defense forced two fumbles, picked off one pass and held Savannah State to 42 yards of total offense and two first downs in the first half.

"We came out prepared, and the fans and atmosphere was great," said Williams. "It's fun to come show the fans at Paulson what the defense can do."

"The defensive line did a good job of providing a pass rush," added Fritz. "We only rushed four for the most part, and we did good job of staying over the top and playing leverage and tackling."

The attendance was the fourth-largest regular-season crowd at Paulson Stadium and ranked sixth on the all-time list.

"It's a dream come true for me to be able to coach at the Division I level where they care about football the way Georgia Southern does," Fritz said about the game-day atmosphere in Paulson.

The Eagles' first drive in the refurbished stadium began and ended with a Breida run. The sophomore opened the drive with an 11-yard run and found pay-dirt seven plays later on a 14-yard scamper.

Savannah State got one of its two first downs in the half on its next possession but elected to go for it on 4th-and-3 from its own 37-yard line. Matt DeLaRosa and Jay Ellison stuffed a Ker-Sean Wilson rush attempt after a 1-yard gain, giving the ball back to the Eagles. Quarterback Kevin Ellison wasted no time, going up top to Showers for a 38-yard touchdown pass and a 14-0 Eagle lead.

The Georgia Southern defense forced a 3-and-out on the next Tiger possession, and Upshaw sparked a 50-yard scoring drive with a 16-yard run. The sophomore quarterback scored on a keeper on 3rd-and-goal from the 6-yard line, and the Eagles led 21-0.

After Deion Stanley intercepted a Wilson pass, Upshaw got in the aerial act, hitting Showers with a 43-yard pass down the sideline for a touchdown and a 28-0 lead. Savannah State fumbled on the kickoff return and it was Breida's turn to carry the load again. He logged three carries for 29 yards, the last for a 1-yard touchdown and after a missed extra point, the Eagles led 34-0 1:19 into the second quarter.

Game Notes: Georgia Southern celebrated its move into the FBS by moving its six FCS national Championship Flags across the stadium to the Football Operations Center in a pre-game ceremony… The flags will now fly daily over the FOC… It was also Military Appreciation Day, the GATA Club All-Sports Reunion game and Night of Champions, which annually celebrates Georgia Southern championship teams… Stanley's interception was the fifth of his career… Georgia Southern improved to 26-6-1 in home openers and 25-5 in home openers at Paulson Stadium… It was the Eagles' eighth straight victory in home openers… GSU coach Willie Fritz is 21-1 in home openers in his career… It was the first time Fritz coached a game in the state of Georgia… The Eagles improved to 11-0 against Savannah State in the all-time series… The Eagles didn't punt for the first time since a 58-0 win over Jacksonville in the 2012 home opener… The Eagles were 37 yards shy of the school record for total offense, 66 yards away from the rushing record, one point away from the record for points in a game and one rushing TD shy of the school mark… Freedom the eagle went the extra distance for FBS on his pre-game flight from the press box, taking a lap around Bishop Fieldhouse to check out the tailgating before landing on his perch.

JAG FOOTBALL OPENS SEASON WITH TOUGH 10-POINT WIN IN KENT

After building a 16-0 lead midway through the second quarter, the University of South Alabama football team looked like it might cruise to victory at Kent State.

But the Golden Flashes battled back, setting up a chance to tie the contest eight minutes with remaining in the fourth quarter, before the Jaguars would go on to claim a 23-13 non-conference win in their season debut Saturday at Dix Stadium.

"This is a big win for us on the road. We came up here last time and didn't play well, but we came out and really played well early in the game," stated Jag head coach Joey Jones. "The thing I am most proud of is we finished the game. In our first game last year we let someone drive and score, and now look at the difference — just that mentality of we're not going to get beat late in the game. I'm so proud of the defense for stopping them, and proud of the offense for driving down and scoring late in the game.

"My hat's off to our players who have really bought in to what we're doing. We have some things we can work on, and that's the thing about football — you always have things you can work on."

The Jaguars (1-0) return to Mobile to play host to Mississippi State in their home opener Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. with the match-up set to be televised nationally on ESPNews.

Not only would the USA defense limit its third opponent in the last four outings to less than 300 yards of offense dating back to the end of the 2013 campaign after holding KSU (0-2) to 277 on 68 plays, the unit provided the Jags with their first points of season on a safety with just under eight minutes to go in the opening quarter when Colin Reardon was called for intentional grounding in the end zone after being pressured by Davin Hawkins.

The play was set up by a 40-yard Brandon McKee punt that went out of bounds at the KSU five-yard line.

And once Anthony Melchiori's 32-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left leaving the Jaguars up by three, 16-13, midway through the final period the USA defense would protect the lead by stopping two final Golden Flash drives. Kent State took over at its own 10-yard line with six minutes remaining in the contest, however after a 13-yard completion from Reardon to Anthony Meray out of the backfield Jimmie Gipson III sacked Reardon for a loss of 10 yards. Gipson III hurried Reardon again on third-and-15, forcing an incompletion and a punt.

The Jaguars were able to pick up a pair of first downs from Jay Jones to bleed the clock, with the senior scoring from 23 yards out on third-and-six for the final points of the game. The Flashes had the ball one last time with one minute and 12 seconds on the clock after the ensuing kickoff, but Montell Garner made a diving interception of a Reardon pass at the KSU-36 to end the contest.

Hawkins — making his first career start — led the Jaguar defense with nine stops and two passes broken up. Roman Buchanan, Maleki Harris, Akeem Lewis and Theo Rich were credited with four stops apiece, Terrell Brigham broke up three passes and forced a fumble, and in addition to both his tackles coming behind the line of scrimmage Gipson III had three quarterback hurries.

"We came out on that first drive with so much energy and intensity when Montell jumped the slant route, we knew we could control the game," Hawkins observed. "That is the mindset we take. We want to come out and show who we are every single play; we don't want to take a play off and that just fuels our intensity. We played assignment football. No one tried to do too much, and I think that is why everything jelled so smoothly.

"Coach [Travis] Pearson has a great game plan, and if you do your job then everything will take care of itself."

Follwing the safety, T.J. Glover returned the ensuing free kick 23 yards and the Jags took over on their own 46-yard line. Brandon Bridge picked up a first down with a gain of eight on third-and-six, moving the chains again on the next play when he found Jeremé Jones crossing the middle for a 14-yard catch. USA added first downs with receptions of eight yards by Braedon Bowman and 14 by Claude Garrett, with the latter moving the Jaguars to the KSU-4.

The Golden Flashes' Nate Holley appeared to intercept a ball that was deflected in the end zone, but pass interference was called on the play. Two snaps later, Bridge connected with Shavarez Smith for a one-yard score and 9-0 advantage with 2:46 to go in the first period; it was the fourth time in the last five games dating back to last season that Smith has recorded a touchdown reception.

KSU would record just 26 yards on 13 plays over the first 15 minutes.

With just over eight minutes left in the opening half USA moved ahead 16-0 on a one-yard Jay Jones scoring run that came one play after Marvin Shinn caught a 58-yard pass from Bridge down the left sideline.

Jones posted his third straight 100-yard effort dating back to last year, leading all players with 102 yards and two scores on 21 carries. Kendall Houston added 13 rushes for 46 yards and Bridge ran for 41 as well as USA finished with 186 yards on the ground and 347 overall.

Bridge was 15-of-25 passing for 161 yards, with Jeremé Jones, Smith and Danny Woodson II catching three passes each to pace the receiving corps.

"I'm proud that we got the win. It was a great team effort; the offense came out rolling, and the defense did a heck of a job," Bridge explained. "I'm really proud of them [the offensive line]. Before we started that last drive, I told the guys that we had to score. We had a couple of guys go down, but we have a lot of depth at each position this year. Those guys came in and did a heck of a job and gave Jay some big holes to run through."

McKee punted a school game-record 10 times, recording a 42.9-yard average while having two kicks downed inside the Golden Flashes' 20-yard line.

Kent State got on the board a minute-and-a-half before the intermission, moving 69 yards — after gaining 28 on its first six possessions — in 13 plays and just over six minutes before Reardon hit Nick Holley in the left flat for an eight-yard touchdown pass; the score was 16-6 at the break after Brigham stopped Holley on the two-point conversion.

After a scoreless third quarter, KSU closed the gap to 16-13 on the first play of the final period as Reardon found Casey Pierce for a 44-yard touchdown. On the Golden Flashes' next possession, they drove another 61 yards in 11 plays but after Melchiori's field goal missed the Golden Flashes managed eight yards on six plays the rest of the way.

Reardon accounted for 215 yards of total offense, with 213 coming through the air after completing 17-of-40 attempts. Pierce led all players with four catches for 80 yards and Chris Humphrey added four receptions as well, while Ernest Calhoun and Holley also caught three balls. KSU managed only 64 yards on 28 carries, though, with Holley accounting for 47 of those on 14 rushes.

Nate Holley matched Hawkins for game-high honors with nine total stops, with Matt Dellinger and Terence Waugh adding eight apiece and both Jordan Italiano and Nate Terhune credited with seven each. Jontey Byrd had four solo tackles, with two of those providing a loss of 10 yards.

It's the first time since beginning the transition to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level that the Jaguars have opened the season with a win. It was also the second straight year that USA has defeated the Golden Flashes, taking a 2-1 series advantage.

Late Surge Pushes New Mexico State Past Panthers

Tyler Rogers' 11-yard touchdown pass to Teldrick Morgan with 15 seconds to play capped a wild comeback as New Mexico State rallied for a 34-31 victory against Georgia State on Saturday.

In the Panthers’ second straight game that was decided in the final seconds, Georgia State fell to 1-1 on the year and 0-1 in Sun Belt play despite leading 24-10 early in the third quarter.

Rogers passed for 241 yards, including hitting Morgan with the winning strike as NMSU (2-0, 1-0 SBC) ended the game trailing just 456-435 in total offense after the late surge. Rogers also finished with three passing TDs including hitting Morgan for a 36-yarder in the third quarter and Joseph Matthews with a 5-yarder midway through the fourth.

The Aggies were under pressure in the final minutes as GSU took the lead with just 2:30 to play. Quarterback Nick Arbuckle scored on a 1-yard keeper to push Georgia State back in front 31-27.

New Mexico State methodically came back, moving down the field 83 yards in 12 plays to collect the winning score. The Aggies capitalized all day as they also took advantage of Panther turnovers. GSU lost two fumbles at key times and had an interception late in the first half, two of them that turned into NMSU points. The second fumble led to an Aggie 30-yard field goal to get within four points, and the interception late in the first half was returned 40 yards for a score to cut the Panthers' halftime lead to just seven.

Early on, it was all Georgia State as the Panthers raced to a 17-0 lead behind Arbuckle and running back Krysten Hammon. Arbuckle made big plays down the field early, hitting Donovan Harden for a 68-yard scoring pass to get GSU on the board and added a 51-yarder to Robert Davis for his first two completions. He finished hitting 21 of 37 pass attempts for 294 yards with a touchdown.

Hammon was a workhorse in his first full collegiate game, after showing glimpses early last week before being sidelined part of the second half with an injury. Hammon had 123 yards on 26 rushes and scored his first two career TDs.

The second scoring TD by the 5-7 Hammon came on a 54-yard scamper up the left sideline and helped him become the first freshman in school history to rush for more than 100 yards in a game. He also scored on an 8-yard run early in the second quarter and helped GSU to 162 rushing yards as a team.

Georgia State returns home on Saturday, Sept. 13, when the Panthers play host to Air Force. The game will kick off at 2 p.m. and will be seen on ESPN3. It will be Military Appreciation Day at the Dome, with all branches of the service being recognized.

Noting the Panthers...

Nick Arbuckle's 68-yard scoring pass to Donovan Harden was the eighth longest play from scrimmage, and the seventh longest pass play in school history. The strike was also the seventh longest TD play since the program began in 2010.

Krysten Hammon rushed for 123 yards and two scores. He was the first freshman in schoolh history to rush for 100 yards in a game, and his 54-yard run was the third-longest scoring run in school history and tied for the fourth-longest rush overall. It was the 11th 100-yard game in program history.

Joseph Peterson recorded 15 tackles, one off his school record of 16 set last year against Troy.
Safety Bryan Williams had eight tackles, an interception -- the first of his career -- and a fumble recovery. Georgia State forced three turnovers on the game.

Captains for today's game were Nick Arbuckle, Joseph Peterson and Shawayne Lawrence.

NM State Football Comes Back to Defeat Georgia State, 34-31 in Sun Belt Conference Opener

The New Mexico State football team came back from a 17-point deficit and outscored Georgia State 17-7 in the fourth quarter to defeat the Panthers 34-31 in the Georgia Dome, Saturday, Sept. 6. The Aggies move to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in Sun Belt Conference play, while Georgia State moves to 1-1 on the year and 0-1 in league play.

The Panthers scored the first 17 points of the game, which included a 68-yard touchdown pass, an 8-yard touchdown run and a 38-yard field goal but that was not enough to deflate NM State as the Aggies would score the next 10 points of the game. Head Coach Doug Martin was extremely proud of his team not giving up and showing toughness, both mentally and physically.

“We take our hats off to Georgia State and their coaching staff as they did a great job out there today,” Martin said. “It is great to see our team come from behind. In the past this wouldn’t have happened but the team has a new attitude and the guys have a lot of fight in them.”

The Aggies struggled offensively in the first half committing two turnovers, while accumulating 180 first half yards. NM State seemed to get things going after falling behind 17-0 with 11:40 left in the second quarter.

“We started off a little sluggish today, especially on offense, but as the game went on we started playing off each other with the defense making great plays and the offense responding to that,” said Martin. “We still have a long ways to go but we are far from where we were at.”

NM State eventually got on the board when senior kicker Maxwell Johnson hammered a kick through the uprights from 41 yards out. It was his longest of the season, while his career long is a 49 yard field goal, which he hit against Rice on Oct. 19, 2013.

NM State scored again, making it 10-unanswered points to pull to within a touchdown. The second score of the afternoon for the Aggies came when defensive end Jay Eakins tipped the ball behind the line of scrimmage on a 2nd-and-10 with 3:15 in the second quarter. After Eakins tipped the ball linebacker Rodney Butler snagged it out of the air returning it 40 yards for a touchdown. Johnson hit the point-after to make it a 17-10 ballgame in favor of Georgia State.

Although the Panthers had the ball for the last drive of the half, the Aggie defense closed out the half strong picking up a sack, with defensive linemen Noah Brown and Kalei Auelau teaming up to bring down the GSU quarterback.

A quick score to start the third quarter by GSU put the Aggies down by 14 with 14:00 remaining on the clock. The Panthers used a 54-yard run to take a 24-10 lead on the third play of the half.

GSU got the ball back on an interception with 12:51 left in the third quarter but the NM State defense held the Panthers. After a 30-yard punt by GSU, giving NM State the ball back at the Aggie 24-yard line, the Aggies marched down the field using seven plays to pull within a touchdown at 24-17. The touchdown came on a 36-yard pass from Rodgers to wide receiver Teldrick Morgan.

NM State used a 10 play, 29-yard drive to score three points on a 30-yard field goal by Johnson bringing the Aggies to within four at 24-20 with 14:16 on the clock in the fourth quarter. The Aggie defense used that momentum to force GSU into a three-and-out, giving NM State the ball back at the Aggie 48-yard line.

After seven rushes and one pass completion, the Aggies would take their first lead of the game. The touchdown came on a lob to the corner of the end zone from Rodgers to senior wide receiver Joseph Matthews with 8:04 left in the fourth quarter making it a 27-24 ball game.

The Panthers scored on the next drive using 13 plays to move 86 yards to take a 31-27 lead. NM State got the ball back with 2:30 left on the clock and marched down 83 yards in 2:15. The winning touchdown came on an 11-yard pass from Rodgers to Morgan with 00:15 left on the clock.

NOTES:

· Tyler Rogers had 241 yards passing; three touchdown passes and one interception

· NM State's last Sun Belt Conference football victory was in 2004 when the Aggies beat Florida Atlantic under Tony Samuel

· The Aggies are 2-0 for the first time since 1999 under Tony Samuel

NO. 9 AGGIES BLOW PAST LAMAR, 73-3

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin worried about how his team would respond when Saturday night's game against Lamar was delayed by more than two hours because of lightning.

His fears were quickly allayed.

Kenny Hill threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns in less than three quarters as No. 9 Texas A&M rolled to a 73-3 win over Lamar in front of the largest crowd for a college game in Texas history.

It was the first game in the newly renovated and expanded Kyle Field and drew a record crowd of 104,728.

After delay of 2 hours, 5 minutes, Texas A&M (2-0) wasted no time getting going. Hill found Speedy Noil for a 44-yard pass on his first throw and Trey Williams had a 33-yard touchdown run two plays later to make it 7-0.

''It was a weird set of circumstances to start the game,'' Sumlin said. ''For young guys I was worried about how they would handle it, but they were excited to play. I think the crowd had a big part in that when we came back out. I was shocked that everybody was still there and it was a great atmosphere to start the game.''

Hill threw touchdown passes of 24, 51, 18 and nine yards in his second game since taking over for 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. He threw for a school-record 511 yards in an upset at then-No. 9 South Carolina last week.

''The more reps you get the more comfortable you are going to be in the offense,'' Hill said. ''I think that's how it is for everybody. The more reps I get, the more time I get to get out there with the wide receivers and get a better connection with them.''

Caleb Berry was 16 of 42 for 153 yards and an interception for Lamar (1-1) which was facing a Southeastern Conference team for the first time since 1974

''Obviously we were outmatched tonight,'' Lamar coach Ray Woodard said. ''I liked the way we fought and came out and played tonight. It will be good to get back on the bus and head back to Beaumont.''

Hill was replaced by freshman Kyle Allen with about five minutes left in the first half and the Aggies up 31-3, but returned to start the third quarter.

He sat down for good with 1:56 left in the third and A&M up 45-3.

The Aggies led 14-3 when they fumbled a punt return. It didn't matter much as Deshazor Everett intercepted the first pass of Lamar's next drive. The Aggies cashed in on the error when Hill hit Sabian Holmes on a short pass and he tip-toed down the sideline for a 51-yard score late in the first quarter.

Hill completed three straight passes on his final drive of the first half with the last one coming on a 9-yard touchdown strike to Edward Pope to push the lead to 31-3.

He picked up where he left off when he returned for the start of the third, capping the first drive of the second half with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Malcome Kennedy that made it 38-3. Hill completed 17 of 26 passes.

''I think these guys understand that we've got to get better and we're going to approach it that way this week,'' Sumlin said. ''

Freshman Myles Garrett starred on defense for the Aggies, finishing with five tackles, two sacks and two QB hurries. The Lamar offensive line couldn't do much to slow down the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Garrett, who was rated as the top high school defensive end in the nation last season.

''It's a learning experience for him,'' Sumlin said. ''He can create his own pass rush and that's something that we need.''

Running back Tra Carson, who had three touchdowns last week, was out with an unspecified injury. Williams and James White picked up the slack, combining for 116 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

The lopsided game gave Texas A&M fans a first look at Allen, who Hill beat out in camp for the job. Allen was considered the best quarterback prospect in the nation coming out of high school. Allen was 12 of 16 for 122 yards with an interception and he threw touchdown passes of two and 33 yards in the fourth quarter.

Noil had 71 yards receiving, a punt return for 67 yards and a kickoff return for 53 yards to finish with 191 all-purpose yards for A&M.

Lamar's only points came when the Cardinals had a first down at the 1-yard line but couldn't push it in and settled for a 20-yard field goal that made it 7-3 in the first quarter.

Texas A&M 73, Lamar 3

ABOUT THE WIN...

• The Aggies moved to 2-0 for the second straight year.
• The win moves Kevin Sumlin’s record at Texas A&M to 22-6 and 57-23 in seven seasons as a head coach.

BIG STADIUM, BIG CROWD
• Attendance for tonight’s game in the redeveloped Kyle Field (capacity 106,000) was 104,728, which is a stadium record. The old stadium record was 90, 079 from the Nebraska vs. Texas A&M tilt in 2010 (W, 9-6).
• It was a state of Texas college football record, breaking the old mark of 101,851 from the West Virginia-Texas contest in 2012 at Darrell K Royal-Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.
• It was the second-largest crowd to see an Aggie game behind the 104,802 fans that watched the Texas A&M-Michigan matchup in 1977 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Another “Fast start”
• The Aggies scored on their opening offensive series of the game when junior RB Trey Williams got loose on a 33-yard TD run. It only took three plays as the Aggies’ first play was a 44-yard connection to Speedy Noil from Kenny Hill.
• In 28 games under head coach Kevin Sumlin, the Aggies have scored on their opening offensive series of the game 20 times with 19 touchdowns. The Aggies have also scored first in 25 of 28 games under Sumlin.
• A&M scored 21 first-quarter points, marking the 15th time in 28 games that the Aggies have scored 14 or more in the first stanza.
• One of the opening periods of Sumlin’s practices is called “fast start.” Occuring just after warmups, “fast start” features several live-action 11-on-11 series just like a game situation. He started implementing the period when his teams at the University of Houston were getting off to slow starts.

Random Notes
• Sophomore DE Daeshon Hall’s first quarter QB sack was the first of his career.
• True freshman DE Myles Garrett had a pair of sacks against Lamar and already has three QB sacks after two games.
• Junior Sabian Holmes’ 51-yard TD reception was the longest catch of his career. It was his first TD of 2014 and second of his career.
• True freshman WR Speedy Noil’s 67-yard punt return was a career long, and it was the longest by an Aggie since Dustin Harris’ memorable 96-yarder against South Carolina State in 2012.
• After going turnover-free against South Carolina last week, the Aggies suffered their first turnover of the season on a fumble at the 11:10 mark of the second quarter.
• Occasionally, the Aggies use jumbo blockers Caden Smith and Ben Compton in the backfield with the primary running back. Those two Aggies combine to weigh 560 pounds.
• Seeing his first action in the maroon and white against Lamar was redshirt freshman RB James White. He finished the game with 62 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. Also seeing his first career action was redshirt freshman LB Reggie Chevis.
• Junior All-America punter Drew Kaser had only one punt, but the tricky 25-yarder was mishandled by Lamar and recovered by the Aggies. #Kaser4Heisman • Walk-on sophomore receiver Boone Niederhofer grabbed his first career TD catch in the fourth quarter.
• Walk-on junior RB Brice Dolezal scored his first career TD on a 41-yard romp late in the fourth quarter.
• Redshirt freshman defenders Justin Manning and Brett Wade made their collegiate debuts tonight and both logged their first career tackles.
• The Aggies held Lamar to three points, which matched the low fewest points allowed during the Sumlin era (48-3 win over SMU in 2012).

MORE TRUE FRESHMEN ENTER THE FRAY
• Nine true freshmen saw action in the season-opener against South Carolina, and five more took off their redshirts tonight against Lamar: LB Josh Walker (Gilmer, Texas), QB Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz.), LB Otaro Alaka (Houston, Texas), WR Jamal Jeffery (Lufkin, Texas) and DB Donovan Wilson (Shreveport, La.).

OFFENSE: SUMLIN-STYLE
• The Aggies gained 630 total yards in the win over Lamar. It was 20th time in 28 games under Kevin Sumlin that the Aggies have surpassed the 500-yard mark in total offense. It was the 12th 600+ game in the Sumlin era.
• Texas A&M’s 73 points matches the most since Oct. 11, 2003, when the Aggies defeated Baylor 73-10. The 73 points tie for the seventh-most in a single game in A&M history.
• The Aggies’ 73 points marked the 13th time that A&M has scored 50+ points in the Sumlin era. The Aggies have scored 60+ points four times in the Sumlin era. It was the second time the Aggies have hit 70 points under Sumlin.
• The Aggies’ 70-point win marks the Aggies’ largest margin of victory since a 73-0 win over Missouri on Sept. 18, 1993.

GAME CAPTAINS, 12TH MAN
• Game captains were senior Malcome Kennedy and juniors Mike Matthews, Julien Obioha and Drew Kaser. Lamar won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff.
• Junior Sam Moeller was the Aggies’ 12th Man for the 15th straight game.

Postgame Quotes

Lamar

HEAD COACH RAY WOODARD
“Congratulations to Coach Sumlin and Texas A&M. They have a very talented, deep team. They are well coached. They’ve got good schemes, and I see why they are ranked where they are. Obviously we were outmatched tonight. I liked the way we fought, and came out and played tonight. It will be good to get back on the bus and head back to Beaumont. It was exciting but they’re obviously a much better football team than we are. Hats off to them.”

On the delay… “Both teams had to deal with it. I don’t think it had anything to do with the ballgame. I think some of the crowd did leave, so I think it was a little less loud than if we had played on time.”

On the crowd… “I think we handled the crowd just fine. We only had one procedural penalty all night.”

On what he learned tonight… “I learned we have a lot of work to do. We’ve got some things that we need chore up. We didn’t particularly play well in some areas. We’ve got some corrections.”

On leaving Caleb Berry in the whole game… “We discussed taking Caleb out of the game. I wanted to go score a touchdown at some point in the game. I wanted to score with Caleb. That was our thinking there.”

SENIOR WIDE RECEIVER MARK ROBERTS
On the atmosphere… “The crowd didn’t really bother me. I was excited. I’ve never played in front of a crowd that big. I just wanted to perform in front of everybody.”

On the offense’s day… “Looking at it, we had some dropped balls and made some mistakes. There were some holes we could’ve hit, we just didn’t connect at the times we needed to.”

On the A&M defense… “Their coaches taught them well. They fly around to the ball well. They were prepared for us going sideways. We needed to go north and south. We made some mistakes that we need to clean up. But, we have to just keep fighting, and not get down on ourselves.”



Texas A&M


HEAD COACH KEVIN SUMLIN

On getting the team prepared after two hour delay… “That’s a good question. There’s lot of different discussion that goes on at that time. Fortunately, we’ve been through that before. In Houston we had a two and a half hour delay. It was even worse because we kicked off, went down the field and scored, and then they blew the horn and we had to go and sit down. The guys were hungry. We adjusted. I’d like to thank [the crowd]. I was shocked at the atmosphere. Many people were still there and ready to go. That was a big deal because you worry about it being flat walking back out there. The entrance was great: the fireworks, the whole bit, then ‘Ugh, let’s go back and sit down’. The fans were great. That gave us a lot of energy to start the game. I thought that was a really positive situation for us, Being at home, setting a record tonight is a big deal, a big deal to these guys, and we’re real appreciative of our fans.”

On quarterbacks Kenny Hill and Kyle Allen’s performance… “I thought the great thing about it was they weren’t prefect tonight, but they operated the offense and numbers were pretty good. Kyle made a mistake early but bounced back. The biggest thing I see with this team is how guys are really, really interested in the success of each other. I watched Kenny throw touchdowns and Kyle congratulate him. Before I could get to Kyle for his touchdown pass, Kenny ran right by me and they were up in the air back-bumping. That’s genuine. In the situation we’re in, I think that says a lot about the competition. I think that says a lot about the respect for each other’s ability. They both deserve to play and they’re comfortable. Kenny’s probably a little bit more comfortable because he’s played more. Kyle got better as the game went on. They congratulated each other. He was pretty determined. It was great for him. The competition there is good, but the enthusiasm for each other’s success on this team is genuine. That’s what you like to see as a coach.”

On the fresh players tonight…. “We have a lot of minutes. Watts showed up again tonight. He likes to play. Speedy had a really, really good game. He made some electric plays tonight. As you can see, he’s explosive. A lot of these young guys are playing and their talented. The best thing about tonight was the number of guys that got in the game and will be able to watch that video, be able to coach off of, and help us develop some depth. We’re going to need that valuable experience in this league because it’s long season. The more that those guys can play, the more confidence they get and we also get in them. It’s a lot of positive tonight’s in a situation like that we can draw from and get some confidence from some of these younger guys.”

SOPHOMORE QUARTERBACK KENNY HILL
On setting the tone… “We came out wanting to get out to a fast start, just come out and really impose our will which I think we ended up doing pretty well.”

On the record… “That’s nuts. They told us we were going to be in front of a big group like that. Its crazy to have fans that really support you like that and come out in a big number like that, I mean it’s unbelievable. It was a great feeling coming out to that many screaming fans.”

On delayed start… “It was tough but that’s part of the game. You control the things you can control. We came out there ready to go obviously. It’s just about refocusing yourself like we just got off the bus, we just had to think of it like that.”

SENIOR DEFENSIVE BACK DESHAZOR EVERRETT
On the defense’s performance… “Considering we held them to three points, I think we played really well. There are still things that we need to correct, we’re not perfect, but that’s what we’re striving to do.”

On what the defense tried to improve on for tonight’s game… “We wanted to limit the big plays. Last week against South Carolina we let a couple of balls go over our heads for easy points. That’s something we wanted to eliminate tonight. We wanted to make them earn every point.”

JUNIOR WIDE RECEIVER SABIAN HOLMES
On the offensive flow… “It’s just how we practice. We come out in practice and treat every day as important. Once we get into the game we just go with the flow and it comes easy for us.”

On playing with Kenny Hill since high school… “It’s been fun. It took me a while to get him here. We practice pretty hard and we have connections in practice. We just have to make sure we come out and show what we do in practice in the games. Once we get into the games it’s kind of easy for us.”

On delayed start… “I wouldn’t say it helped or hurt, we just have to refocus. It’s part of the game. Nothing is ever perfect. We had to make sure we came out with the same intensity that we came out with the first time. We couldn’t take these guys for granted no matter what their record is or what conference they’re in or anything.”

In With the New: Freshmen Help LSU Pound Bearkats

LSU (2-0) built its biggest halftime lead in coach Les Miles' 10 seasons, 35-0, behind 399 yards of total offense that was as evenly applied on the ground (211) as through the air (188).

In the second half, many more new faces had a chance to contribute for the first time in Tiger Stadium. LSU played 17 members of its 2014 signing class along with eight more redshirt freshmen – and expanded its advantage by three touchdowns in the final 30 minutes.

The final margin was LSU’s largest since Sept. 2, 2000, when LSU also opened an expanded Tiger Stadium (east side upper deck and suites) with a 58-0 win.

The Tigers amassed 584 yards of total offense including 334 rushing on 58 attempts.

Sam Houston State (1-2) managed 206 net yards with only 50 on the ground. LSU forced seven sacks, nine punts and three turnovers.

LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings tossed three first-half touchdowns - all to wide receiver Travin Dural, who continued his torrid start to the 2014 season. Dural's three touchdowns catches included a school-record 94-yarder on LSU's first play from scrimmage. He added touchdowns of 28 and 18 yards in the first 17 minutes of play.

The 94-yard reception by Dural tied the longest play from scrimmage by a Tiger in program history, and was its longest in a home game all-time. Dural had 151 yards receiving in the season opener against Wisconsin and added 140 more tonight.

Jennings started and played most of the first half and early in the second half. He finished 7-of-13 passing for 188 yards and added 43 rushing yards on nine attempts.

Other than Dural’s trio of touchdowns and Kenny Hilliard’s 2-yard touchdown run to end the scoring, true freshmen did the rest of the scoring for LSU. Leonard Fournette and Brandon Harris each displayed runs of 40 or more yards in the decisive first half, while running back Darrel Williams scored from 1-yard in the third quarter and wide receiver Malachi Dupre hauled in a beautiful 8-yard diving catch from Harris in the fourth quarter.

On LSU's third drive, Fournette took a second-and-10 carry to his left, cut back right to find a hole and shook off a pair of tackles before being dragged down at the Bearkats 4-yard line. He showed the same patience on the ensuing carry, waiting for a hole to open on the right side of the line before hitting it for his first touchdown as a Tiger. He finished with 92 rushing yards on 13 carries and had two catches out of the backfield for 32 yards.

Early in the second quarter, Harris had his first shot to impress the home crowd. After an 8-yard gain to the LSU 39 and then an incompletion on the first pass of his career, he took a quarterback keeper 46 yards around the right end for his first career score.

Harris re-entered on the fourth drive of the second half and played the duration at quarterback. He completed 4-of-5 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown to Dupre. Harris also ran for 53 net yards and was sacked once.

Williams finished with 14 carries and 65 rushing yards, while Hilliard had 55 yards on 11 carries.

Defensively, LSU true freshman Sione Teuhema got into the act with two sacks in his first appearance as a Tiger, while veteran end Danielle Hunter, linebacker Kendell Beckwith and back Dwayne Thomas led the way with seven tackles each. Thomas and safety Rickey Jefferson each had interceptions.

Sam Houston State quarterback Jared Johnson led the way offensively with 142 passing yards on 8-of-25 attempts with two interceptions. His favorite target was Yedidiah Louis, who caught four passes for 102 yards including a 48-yarder. Donavan Williams had 29 of the Bearkats' 50 net rushing yards.

LSU improved to 95-21-4 in home openers, and 10-0 all-time against Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) opponents.

Sam Houston State won the coin toss and elected to take the opening kickoff, putting its high-powered offense on the field. The Bearkats used a fast tempo to work across midfield, but on the next play Johnson was intercepted by Dwayne Thomas at the LSU 6. Thomas returned the interception deep into Bearkats territory, but he was ruled down by video replay.

On the Tigers' first play, Jennings dropped back into his endzone and lofted a pass over the only Sam Houston State defender and into the waiting hands of Dural at the 41. He ran untouched into the north endzone for a 6-0 lead. Colby Delahoussaye's PAT bounced off the post.

A loss of five yards on a tackle by LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter and a sack by Jermauria Rasco stopped the Bearkats ensuing drive and forced a punt.

From the LSU 41, Hilliard ran three times for 16 yards before Jennings connected with wide receiver Trey Quinn for 12 yards and a first down at the SHSU 31. Two plays later, Jennings and Dural teamed for a second touchdown, this time with the receiver streaking from left to right across the field before making the 28-yard touchdown grab at the goalline.

Sam Houston took advantage of a 39-yard catch-and-run by Yedidiah and advanced to the LSU 20-yard line. However, a fourth-down stop by the Tigers defense put the offense back on the field.

Fournette got his first opportunities to carry the ball and made the most of it. His 40-yard run was followed by a 4-yard touchdown scamper up the middle that put LSU ahead 20-0 with 3:56 left in the opening quarter.

Dural completed his remarkable first 17 minutes of the game by hauling in an 18-yard touchdown from Jennings - the third of the game for the combo. LSU led 27-0 with 13:28 remaining in the half.

Harris then led the Tigers to paydirt once again with his 46-yard burst up the right side. A two-point conversion by over the top of the defense by Hilliard pushed the LSU advantage to 35-0 with 8:15 left before halftime.

In the third quarter, Jamie Keehn punted twice before the Tigers offense got back in sync. An 11-yard sack of Johnson by LSU linebacker D.J. Welter caused a fumble and linebacker Deion Jones recovered at the Bearkats 1-yard line.

Williams barreled in for the touchdown and a 42-0 lead with 7:11 left in the third quarter.

Another turnover forced by the LSU defense led to points, as Rickey Jefferson's interception at the LSU 2 was returned 18 yards late in the quarter. Harris completed passes of 22, 17 and 15 yards to John Diarse, Williams and Dupre, as the Tigers advanced to the Bearkats' 23. A pass interference penalty on Sam Houston State gave the Tigers first-and-goal, and Dupre was able to make a diving catch in the right corner of the endzone to score from eight yards.

With 13:08 remaining, LSU led 49-0.

LSU's final touchdown came on its next drive. After Tre'Davious White returned a punt 30 yards to the SHSU 42, Fournette ran three times for 40 yards to the 2, where Hilliard polished off the scoring with a touchdown run.

The Tigers remain home next weekend when Louisiana-Monroe comes to Tiger Stadium for a 6 p.m. CT kickoff on ESPNU.

BIG-PLAY AUBURN RUNS PAST SAN JOSE STATE 59-13

There were the points, sure. But offensive-minded coach Gus Malzahn liked most everything else, too.

Defense? Check. Special teams? Check. Quarterback and running back play? Check and check.

Auburn ran past San Jose State 59-13 before a sellout crowd of 87,451 Saturday night in Jordan-Hare Stadium behind a mix of big plays and consistency.

Malzahn's first post-game assessment?

"The positives, we had three interceptions on defense, and a punt return for a touchdown," said Malzahn, the Auburn coach who saw his Tigers improve to 2-0 after backing up its 45-21 win over Arkansas in the season-opener with another dominating performance on Saturday.

Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for more than 100 yards for the second straight game while running for three touchdowns.

Auburn scored seven touchdowns, including a 55-yard punt return by veteran Quan Bray, and a 3-yard touchdown run by freshman Roc Thomas on his first-ever Auburn carry.

Auburn's defense was solid again, thanks in part to interceptions by Jermaine Whitehead, Rudy Ford and Trovon Reed; and Auburn's offense used three quarterbacks again and mixed in some running backs again.

Nick Marshall started at quarterback and played the first three quarters. When he left, Auburn was up 45-13.

Marshall scored on a 27-yard touchdown run. He threw a 4-yard touchdown pass. There were the feel-good stories of two long-time Tigers.

Bray masterfully returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown. Reed, the receiver-turned-defensive back, intercepted a pass in the end zone to turn back a late San Jose State opportunity.

Defensive end Montravius Adams didn't intercept a pass. But he had a sack and, overall, three tackles for a loss, and the fans cheered every one.

"I think it got guys got rolling," Malzahn said.

"Montravius got in there. As the game went on, our guys really got back there."

The sack, said Malzahn, "was a big play in the game. It gives everybody positive emotion and momentum."

Auburn can consider all of that, and its 2-0 start, during next week's off week, though Malzahn said that really won't be the priority. Saturday was another easy win, but he said Auburn benefitted from it.

"We've got to get better. We have to worry about us," he said.

"We have to feel like when we watch this tape we did improve from Week One to Week Two.

"Overall, I feel like we've done that."

Artis-Payne rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown in the win over Arkansas, then went for 112 yards and three touchdowns against San Jose State. He did most of that work in the first half, when it mattered, when he rushed for 106 yards.

Marshall was second in rushing, like he was last year, by running for 103 yards, Corey Grant rushed for 89 yards. Marshall averaged 9.4 yards a run, Grant averaged 8.9 yards a run. Artis-Payne averaged 7.

Malzahn said Artis Payne "did a good job. Corey did a good job in there, too. We've got to have those two guys."

Bonus points: "He's got a good understanding of the overall offense; he's a good pass protector," Malzahn said.

Everybody seemed to get into the act in the first half on the way to Auburn's 38-10 lead. Artis-Payne scored three touchdowns in the first two quarters. Bray made his spectacular 55-yard punt return for a touchdown, sidestepping tacklers and outracing everyone to the end zone. Duke Williams, who caught nine passes in the opener, caught four more, all in the first half.

Marshall played the first three quarters, reversing the role he played with backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson in the first game. Like the opener, Jonathan Wallace finished up at quarterback.

Whitehead intercepted a pass, his second of the season, to set up one TD. Ford intercepted a pass to set up a 27-yard Daniel Carlson field goal on the last play of the half.

Auburn scored on one drive by doing nothing but running the ball. It scored other times by mixing it up.

Marshall threw a touchdown pass, a 4-yarder to Ricardo Louis.

The stats didn't lie. Auburn had 321 yards at the half. They coasted from there, finishing with 493.

The first-half touchdowns went like this: Louis TD, Artis-Payne 2-yard TD, Artis-Payne 5-yard TD, Bray 55-yard TD return, Artis-Payne 1-yard run.

Go figure: San Jose State had the ball 27 minutes, 34 seconds in the first three quarters. Auburn had it 17:26. Yet, with Marshall's 27-yard TD run in the third, Auburn led 45-13.

A 1-yard Johnson TD run early in the fourth made it 52-13. Thomas scored on a 3-yard run on his first Auburn carry for 59-13.

Then there was the almost fitting end: Reed intercepted a pass in the end zone to stop San Jose State's last serious drive.

No. 21 South Carolina Tops East Carolina, 33-23

No. 21 South Carolina defeated East Carolina, 33-23, tonight at Williams-Brice Stadium, giving Head Coach Steve Spurrier his 200th win as a coach in the Southeastern Conference. Junior running back Mike Davis led the way with his eighth-career 100-yard rushing game, as he totaled 101 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

After forcing the Gamecocks to punt on the opening possession of the game, a 53-yard punt from Tyler Hull was down at the Pirates' 3-yard line. East Carolina strung together an 11-play drive to move into the red zone, but from there, the drive stalled. The Gamecock defense clamped down and forced the Pirates to convert on a 26-yard field goal by Warren Harvey.

On the following drive, redshirt senior quarterback Dylan Thompson was intercepted by Josh Hawkins, giving ECU the ball at the South Carolina 43-yard line. The Pirates were unable to muster much and Harvey connected on a 35-yard field goal to give the visitors a 6-0 lead with 6:35 on the clock.

Trailing 6-0, the Gamecocks mounted a 10-play drive with Thompson going four-of-five and Davis rushing four times for 48 yards. The tailback capped off the drive by bursting through an open whole on the right side of the line and taking it 36 yards into the end zone to give Carolina a 7-6 lead with 1:56 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Pirates responded though as quarterback Shane Carden went five-of-six for 67 yards on the next drive. Chris Hairston finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to give ECU a 13-7 lead early in the second quarter. Eleven plays later, South Carolina cut the deficit to three with a 39-yard field from sophomore Elliott Fry with 9:55 left in the half.

A three-and-out for the Pirates gave the Gamecock offense a spark and Thompson went four-of-four on the drive connecting on a 31-yard pass down the middle to junior wide receiver Shaq Roland and a 19-yard completion to Davis that got the Gamecocks down to the 3-yard line. The tailback then pounded his way into the end zone on the next play for his second touchdown of the half to give South Carolina a 17-13 lead with under five minutes remaining in the half.

ECU's Breon Allen countered on the next possession with a 42-yard run down to the Gamecock 19-yard line. South Carolina's defense then forced a pair of incomplete passes and a rush for no gain, before Junior defensive tackle Gerald Dixon Jr. blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt, the Gamecocks' first blocked field goal since 2011. With just over a minute left before the end of the half, Fry connected on his second field goal, a 42-yarder to take a 20-13 lead.

Aided by a roughing the passer penalty and a 20-yard completion to Cam Worthy, the Pirates set up Harvey for a 40-yard field goal, his third conversion of the half with four seconds remaining, and the Gamecocks held a 20-16 lead at the break.

East Carolina opened the second half driving into Gamecock territory, but on a third-and-five, junior defensive end Cedrick Cooper put pressure on Carden, forcing the Pirate quarterback into a tough throw which spur Sharrod Golightly intercepted just before stepping across the sideline. It was the senior's first career interception.

Thompson completed six-straight passes on the ensuing drive before finding wide receiver K.J. Brent open in the left corner of the end zone for the junior's first-career touchdown reception to push the Gamecocks lead to 27-16 with 8:36 left in the third.

Junior safety T.J. Gurley intercepted Carden on the Pirates next possession allowing the Gamecocks to use up 5:40 off the clock before Fry converted on a 26-yard field goal to put South Carolina up 30-16 just before the end of the third quarter. With the Gamecocks seizing control, Carden engineered an 11-play drive, capping it off with a 17-yard touchdown pass across the middle to Worthy to cut the Pirates deficit to 30-23 early in the fourth.

South Carolina put the game away with an 18-play, 86-yard drive, lasting 10:33, the second-longest drive during the Spurrier era, that culminated in a 20-yard field goal conversion by Fry, tying his career-high with four in a game.

GAME CHANGER
Senior spur Sharrod Golightly and junior safety T.J. Gurley intercepted East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden on back-to-back possessions to open the third quarter, which led to 10 points that pushed the Gamecocks lead to 30-16.

KEY STAT
Junior Mike Davis rushed for his eighth-career 100-yard game, going for 101 yards and two touchdowns.

NOTABLES
South Carolina picked up a 33-23 win over East Carolina, marking Steve Spurrier's 200th win as the head coach of an SEC institution.
It's also the 50th home win at South Carolina for Steve Spurrier.
The Gamecocks improve their winning streak against non-conference teams to 16 games and in regular-season non-conference games to 21 games.
Junior tailback Mike Davis ran for 101 yards, moving into South Carolina's career top-25 list in rushing yards in the process. He passed Alex Hawkins (1956-58) in the first half to claim 25th for himself, now with 1,574 yards. He's now three yards shy of tying for Jeff Grantz (1,577) for 24th.
Sophomore wide receiver Pharoh Cooper set a new career high with five receptions in the game, tallying 45 yards. He also ran twice for six yards.
Junior wide receiver Shaq Roland posted a team-best seven catches for 94 yards. The seven catches eclipse his previous best of six in the 2014 Capital One Bowl against Wisconsin.
South Carolina compiled seven quarterback hurries in the game, the most for a Gamecock defense since posting 10 against Georgia on Oct. 6, 2012.
South Carolina's Gerald Dixon Jr. blocked a second-quarter field-goal attempt, the Gamecocks' first blocked field-goal try since Stephon Gilmore's at Tennessee on Oct. 29, 2011.
Sophomore placekicker Elliot Fry had four field goals in the game, matching his outing against Florida last season (11/16).

QUOTABLE
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
Opening Statement
"We hung in there. Elliott Fry made all his field goals. We got a couple of turnovers. Brandon [Wilds], Mike [Davis] and the offensive line pretty much took it over. Elliot Fry making four field goals was crucial for us. The time of possession, we were up there, almost as good as Texas A&M was last week. We had over 36 minutes and made seven of 13 third downs. Our red zone offense wasn't as good as it should have been, but it worked out for us. I'm really proud of the entire team, all of them. We're not quite as talented as some of our teams in the past, that's obvious. The kids hung in there and played their hearts out. They played about as well as they could. Overall, our guys played well. Our fans were super; they hung in there with us. I think we're starting to realize what kind of team we are. We're going to have to scratch and get in a bunch of close games and try to find a way to win. This was a good win for us, and hopefully we can build on it."

Junior RB Mike Davis

On transition from last week's game
"It was frustrating. Coach came in and wanted us to have a live bench, good spirits on the sideline, help your teammates out and cheer them on, make sure one's head is down and everyone head in the game. Coach did a great job."

UP NEXT
South Carolina welcomes No. 6 Georgia to Williams-Brice Stadium on Sept. 13 for a 3:30 p.m., showdown on CBS. The Bulldogs were off this week after defeating then-No. 16 Clemson 45-21 in Athens, Ga., last week in their season opener.

Commodores can't slow Rebels in 41-3 loss

Vanderbilt is adjusting to a new coach and an all-new coaching staff while looking for a new quarterback. They're also playing lots of very young Commodores, and so far the results have been downright ugly.

The Commodores gave up 547 yards of total offense in a game where they didn't cross midfield until late in the third quarter of a 41-3 loss Saturday to 15th-ranked Mississippi in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Mason still is looking for his inaugural win at a program that went 9-4 and finished in the Top 25 each of the past two seasons. The Commodores have yet to score their first offensive touchdown and have been outscored 78-10. Mason played 25 freshmen and redshirt freshman against Ole Miss and promised the Commodores (0-2) will be better in two weeks than they were today.

"We're just fighting through the growing pains of being young," Mason said.

Mason did give Stephen Rivers the first start of his career at quarterback after the coach declined to announce a starter after rotating three in an opening loss to Temple.

Rivers was 6-of-25 for 60 yards, and Cliff Coleman picked off Rivers' first pass of the third quarter and ran it back 39 yards for a TD and a 27-0 lead. It was the first career start for Rivers, a transfer from LSU and the younger brother of Philip Rivers of the NFL's San Diego Chargers.

"That was my first start, and there were definitely some rookie mistakes," Rivers said. "I've been around a lot of games the past three years, but that was my first start, and there's definitely things I'm going to learn from."



Vanderbilt's defense struggled just as much.

Ole Miss outgained Vandy 331-76 in total offense at halftime and finished 547-167. The Rebels also piled up 34 first downs -- the most in a game under coach Hugh Freeze.

The Rebels scored on seven of their first eight possessions with the shortest drive covering 67 yards, and they never punted. Jaylen Walton started the scoring with a 20-yard TD, and I'Tavius Mathers and DeVante Kincade also ran for TDs.

Bo Wallace put the Rebels up 20-0 with a 20-yard TD pass to Cody Core, and he was sacked as the first half ended with Ole Miss threatening to score again. Playing an hour north of his hometown in Pulaski, Tennessee, Wallace had 249 yards by halftime and finished with 320 yards passing, his day done after Mathers' TD with 9:29 left in the third quarter.

"I love playing here," Wallace said. "It's fun for me to come up here. At the same time, it's just a game. More people I know get to see me play in person, but I don't think there's any more pressure."

The Rebels (2-0) now have beaten Vanderbilt in Nashville in consecutive seasons after the Commodores had won five of the previous six. The Rebels won in dominating fashion with their largest margin of victory against an SEC opponent since beating Mississippi State 45-0 in 2008.

"I'm excited to get a road SEC win for sure, and I thought our kids played a pretty solid game," Freeze said. "I thought Bo managed us really well. He made two decisions that he'll probably look at the film and say, 'Man, I should've done something different.' But I thought he played really solid."

This was the third game in Nashville for the Rebels since opening the 2013 season at Vanderbilt and their second straight at LP Field, home to the NFL's Tennessee Titans. It was their second road game to open the season, and the Rebels certainly made themselves at home in a crowd of 43,260 in the red and blue seats.

No. 15 Ole Miss Thumps Vanderbilt 41-3

No. 15 Ole Miss scored early and often, while the Rebel defense gave up only a field goal in the fourth quarter en route to a dominating 41-3 win over Vanderbilt in both teams' SEC opener Saturday.

With the exception of that first half against Boise State, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is very happy with how his Rebels have started this season.

Bo Wallace threw for 320 yards and a touchdown to lead the charge. He is now one passing touchdown shy of Jevan Snead (46) for second place on the Rebels' all-time list.

The Rebels (2-0) have beaten Vanderbilt in Nashville in consecutive seasons after the Commodores had won five of the previous six. The Rebels won in dominating fashion with their largest margin of victory against an SEC opponent since beating Mississippi State 45-0 in 2008.

"I'm excited to get a road SEC win for sure, and I thought our kids played a pretty solid game," Freeze said. "I thought Bo managed us really well. He made two decisions that he'll probably look at the film and say, 'Man, I should've done something different.' But I thought he played really solid."

Ole Miss scored on seven of its first eight possessions with the shortest drive covering 67 yards, and the Rebels never punted. Jaylen Walton started the scoring with a 20-yard TD, and I'Tavius Mathers and DeVante Kincade also ran for TDs.

Wallace put the Rebels up 20-0 with a 20-yard TD pass to Cody Core, and he was sacked as the first half ended with Ole Miss threatening to score again. Playing an hour north of his hometown in Pulaski, Tennessee, Wallace had 249 yards by halftime, and his day was done after Mathers' TD with 9:29 left in the third quarter.

"I love playing here," Wallace said. "It's fun for me to come up here. At the same time, it's just a game. More people I know get to see me play in person, but I don't think there's any more pressure."

The Commodores (0-2) still are searching for first-year coach Derek Mason's inaugural win, but at least got their first offensive points with a field goal. Vanderbilt played 25 freshmen and redshirt freshmen, and Mason promised they'll be better in two weeks than they were today.

"We're just fighting through the growing pains of being young," Mason said.

This was the third game in Nashville for the Rebels since opening the 2013 season at Vanderbilt and their second straight at LP Field, home to the NFL's Tennessee Titans. It was their second road game to open the season, and the Rebels certainly made themselves at home in a crowd of 43,260 in the red and blue seats.

"I'm really pleased at this point that they've handled environments that were a little different, that didn't feel quite like what you feel in some of the stadiums we play in normally," Freeze said.

Ole Miss outgained Vandy 331-76 in total offense at halftime and finished 547-167. The Rebels also piled up 34 first downs -- the most in a game under Freeze.

Cliff Coleman returned an interception 39 yards less than a minute into the second half, and Mathers, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, padded the lead to 34-0 with a 2-yard TD run.

The Commodores have been outscored 78-10 since James Franklin left in January for Penn State.

Vanderbilt didn't get past midfield against the Rebels until the final couple minutes of the third quarter, and the Commodores had to settle for a field goal after recovering Kincade's fumble at the Ole Miss 5 in the fourth quarter.

Stephen Rivers started at quarterback after Mason declined to announce a starter after rotating three in an opening loss to Temple.

Rivers was 6-of-25 for 60 yards, and Coleman picked off Rivers' first pass of the third quarter and ran it back 39 yards for a TD and a 27-0 lead. It was the first career start for Rivers, a transfer from LSU and the younger brother of Philip Rivers of the NFL's San Diego Chargers.

"That was my first start, and there were definitely some rookie mistakes," Rivers said. "I've been around a lot of games the past three years, but that was my first start, and there's definitely things I'm going to learn from."

RAZORBACKFB ROLLS NICHOLLS IN HOME OPENER, 73-7

Sparked by a touchdown on the opening play, Arkansas football posted 63 unanswered points en route to a 73-7 win over Nicholls Saturday evening in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The Razorbacks scored touchdowns on their first five drives to open the game.

Arkansas’ 73 points are the most the Razorbacks have put up in the modern era. In 2003, Arkansas tallied 71 points at Kentucky in a seven overtime thriller.

The Razorbacks’ 56 points in the first half was a career-high for head coach Bret Bielema. Arkansas’ ten touchdowns ties for the second-most in school history.

“I’m very excited for the guys to come out and execute today,” said Bielema. “Our goal all week was to prepare with the intensity that we needed in all three phases of the game and play that way. I was excited with how our team came out and played on both sides of the ball, and a huge pat on the back for all of our guys for staying involved in the game.”

With an average of 12.7 yards per play (54 plays for 684 yards), the Razorback offense shattered the previous record of 10.76 yards per play set in 1947 against Northwestern (La.) State. Arkansas totaled 684 yards, the third-most in school history and most since the Razorbacks gained 713 yards against North Texas in 2007.

Arkansas’ proficient offense was led by sophomore running back Alex Collins, who punched in a game-high three touchdowns for the Razorbacks, while junior wide receiver Keon Hatcher recorded one rushing and one receiving touchdown for 132 total yards. Junior running back Jonathan Williams and Collins both rushed for over 100 yards, 143 and 131 respectively. The last time Arkansas boasted two 100-yard rushers was against Southern Mississippi in 2013 when Williams tallied 116 and Collins recorded 115. Eight different Razorbacks recorded touchdowns, including four different receivers, the most since 2012 against Kentucky.

Junior quarterback Brandon Allen collected a game-high four touchdown passes and was 4-of-5 for 117 yards. Allen shared time under center with his brother, redshirt freshman Austin Allen, whose first collegiate game was highlighted by a rushing touchdown and 72 passing yards.

On the other side of the ball, Arkansas’ defense was highlighted by senior linebacker Martrell Spaight who collected six tackles and a pass break-up. Sophomore Taiwan Johnson recorded a career-high 2.5 sacks, 3.0 tackles for loss and three tackles. Sophomore cornerback D.J. Dean collected the first interception of his career in the third quarter and posted a 63-yard punt return for 94 total return yards.

After holding off Nicholls in the opening drive and forcing a Colonel punt, Arkansas embarked on a 63-point run that began with the opening play.

On the Razorbacks’ first drive, junior wide out Keon Hatcher took a reverse in the offense’s opening play and sprinted down the field 82 yards for a touchdown. The 15-second drive was the first time Arkansas has scored on an opening play since it hosted Kentucky in 2012.

In Arkansas’ next possession, Collins rolled in the Razorbacks’ second touchdown on the first play of a drive that lasted nine seconds. Collins’ second touchdown of the game came late in the first quarter on another drive-opening play and lasted six seconds, the shortest drive of the game.

In the second quarter, Williams tacked on Arkansas’ 49th point of the contest with a 90-yard scamper for a touchdown. The touchdown run tied for the third-longest in program history.

Sophomores Cody Hollister and Drew Morgan, and freshman Jared Cornelius collected their first career touchdown receptions.

The Razorbacks will next hit the road to take on Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., and will be televised on ABC/ESPN.

Gators' Opener, Roper Debut Worth Wait in 65-0 Rout of Eastern Michigan

No one left the game Saturday thinking the Florida Gators were world-beaters, but to a man (and certainly to a fan) it sure felt good finally to play some football again.

Even better, to win again.

Better yet, to win really big.

The much-anticipated debut of UF's new offense was postponed by weather for a week and whatever pent-up frustration the Gators might have dealt with over the previous seven days was taken out on Eastern Michigan to the tune of a 65-0 victory before a delighted crowd, enthused and football-thirsty crowd of 81,049 at The Swamp.

Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, returning from a season-ending broken leg, set career highs for completions and attempts, going 31 of 45 for 248 yards, a touchdown, no interceptions and engineering an offense that finished with 655 total yards and posted the most points by a UF team since Tim Tebow's 2008 junior season.

"We'll face better than this bunch, [so] we need to be realistic about this," said UF coach Will Muschamp, adding though that he was expecting a big jump with this team from the version that went 4-8 and was devastated by injuries last year. "We needed a win and to get out and play. We're much improved. That's not false bravado. It's real. We're a better football team."

With a bevy of playmakers.

Running backs Kelvin Taylor, Matt Jones and Mack Brown combined for 191 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns. True freshman backup quarterback Treon Harris's first two passes of his college career went 70 and 78 yards for touchdowns to sophomore wide Demarcus Robinson and junior tailback Mark Herndon, respectively. Senior placekicker Frankie Velez, a former walk-on awarded a scholarship two weeks ago, was perfect on three field-goal tries.

Take a bow, Kurt Roper.

UF's new offensive coordinator by way of Duke, Roper commandeered the Gators to scores on their first five possessions en route to a 30-0 halftime lead, then left his foot on the gas in the second half against the overmatched Eagles (1-1).

"I loved it, man," said senior wideout Andre Debose, granted a sixth year of elibility following a season-ending knee injury last summer. "A lot of teams put the pedal to the metal on us in the second half last year, so I'm excited. We put up 65 points. I haven't been part of an offense like that since I've been here."

Even the defense joined in, with safety Duke Dawson picking off a pass and returning it 36 yards for a score in the second half to become the first true freshman in school history to return an interception for a touchdown in his first game.

From there, it turned into stat time for the Gators, who hadn't enjoyed a game like this in a long time. The end result made for the most points by a UF team in 68 games, dating to a 70-19 win over The Citadel in Week 11 of the 2008 season. It was a welcome sight, considering the Gators hadn't won a game since last Oct. 5, a 30-10 victory over Arkansas that gave way to a run of seven straight losses to end the season -- not to mention last week's scheduled opener against Idaho being wiped out due to thunderstorms.

"Hats off to Florida," EMU coach Chris Creighton said. "With the game being canceled last week and this being their opener, they came out with a bang and played great in a great environment."

Velez began the scoring a 33-yard field goal that capped UF's first drive under Roper, a 16-play, 63-yard drive that stalled when a third-and-5 throw by Driskel into the end zone fell incomplete.

Anyone thinking the new offense was more of the same 2013 offense soon found out differently.

"We’re tyring to put last year in the past and focus on this season," Driskel said. "We’re excited about this team and I think we have the players to have a special year."

After the Velez field goal, the next three possessions ended with a 31-yard touchdown run by Taylor (untouched), a 40-yard scoring blast by Jones (untouched) and 12-yarder from true freshman Brandon Powell (barely touched). It was 24-0 barely into the second quarter and the rout was on.

McAlister Driskel's first touchdown pass of the season was a 4-yarder to Jones early in the third period and Taylor's 6-yard dash around right six minutes later pushed UF ahead 44-0 and sent Driskel to the sidelines for the night.

"We have playmakers all over the place," Driskel said.

Enter Harris, the rookie QB from Miami Booker T. Washington.

On the headset, Muschamp had a message for Roper.

"We need to play," he said. "Don't sit on [the ball]."

So he didn't.

Harris' first pass was a bomb that Robinson (6 catches, 123 yards), who caught just five balls in a suspension-marred freshman season, first ran under and then ran through an EMU arm tackle for a 70-yard score. Harris began his second drive by dropping back, setting up in the pocket and heaving a bullet that hit tailback Mark Herndon in the safety seam and in full stride for 78 more yards and a score.

At that point, Harris was 2 of 2 for 148 yards, two TDs -- and a career QB rating of 1,051.6.

And the happy meter inside Florida Field was as statisically whacked out.

"What I really liked about [the game] was that everybody just did their job," junior defensive end Dante Fowler III said. "You can see the chemistry is where it needs to be. We played together as a team, and when you do that you just feel as though you can’t be beat."

It's a great feeling. So was finally playing a game.

And running away with it.

Kentucky Improves to 2-0 With 20-3 Win Over Ohio

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles threw for 170 yards and rushed for 59 more to lead the Wildcats to a 20-3 win over Ohio Saturday.

Towles completed 17 of 31 passes and one touchdown and led the Wildcats to their first 2-0 start since 2011. Although Kentucky's offense wasn't as explosive as last week's 59-14 rout of Tennessee Martin, it was enough to help the Wildcats avenge a 28-16 loss to the Bobcats in 2004.

Kentucky was without starting running back Braylon Heard who sat out because of a sprained ankle. Heard, a junior transfer from Nebraska, rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the team's opener last week.

Jojo Kemp and freshman Boom Williams split time in the backfield in Heard's absence. Williams led the Wildcats with 60 yards rushing on five carries, including a 53-yard touchdown run with 8:24 remaining in the first quarter.

Towles had six rushes of 10 yards or more on 22 attempts, including a 16-yard jaunt in the second quarter. Towles made successful completions to four different receivers, with sophomore receiver Ryan Timmons catching 10 passes for 95 yards, both career highs.

Dorian Baker had two catches for 41 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown reception to open Kentucky's scoring with 3:33 remaining in the first quarter.

After two straight scoring drives to open the contest, Kentucky's offense managed just three points on its final four possessions of the first half. Towles completed 10 of 17 passes for 131 yards and one touchdown in the first two quarters. He added 46 yards on 13 carries.

Ohio (1-1) avoided the shut out on Josiah Yazdani's 44-yard field goal at the 12:12 mark of the third quarter.

Kentucky held consecutive opponents scoreless in the first half for the first time since 1988.

BULLDOGS OUST UAB, 47-34, TO MOVE TO 2-0 FOR 2014

In an offensive showcase featuring over 1,000 combined yards, Mississippi State (2-0) beat UAB (1-1) 47-34 in Starkville to maintain it’s undefeated record.

The game was closer, perhaps, than was comfortable for some at Davis Wade Stadium, but MSU head coach Dan Mullen said he expected a battle coming in after he saw UAB’s season-opener last week.

“I’m pleased we found a way to win,” he said. “Found a way to make plays we needed to make.”

The Bulldogs got off to a quick start, scoring in under a minute on their first drive as junior quarterback Dak Prescott hit senior receiver Robert Johnson for a 68-yard touchdown strike.

From there, the Bulldogs and Blazers went back and forth throughout the first half, with MSU pulling away in the second half following a blocked punt by sophomore Kivon Coman and the ensuing touchdown by Prescott on a four-yard run just two minutes into the quarter. Mullen pinpointed Coman’s punt block as the turning point in the game and a sign of maturity from his team.

“That was huge,” Mullen said afterward. “[UAB] was coming out with a lot of energy to start the half, we get a blocked punt and a touchdown. We kept the momentum. Every time it started to slip a little bit, we grabbed tight and didn’t let it slip at all.”

Prescott (12-of-25 for 211 yards, four touchdowns and one interception) had a career day, becoming the first quarterback in MSU history to pass for at least four touchdowns and rush for at least 100 yards, totaling 111 on the ground.

Junior running back Josh Robinson starred alongside him, racking up 130 yards on 20 carries, including one touchdown, earning Player of the Game honors.

“He’s really running the ball well,” Mullen said. “He’s doing a better job with his reads and making good decisions in the run game. The big one is yards after contact.”

Between the two, Robinson and Prescott combined for over 450 yards and all six of MSU’s offensive touchdowns, this coming a week after the duo combined for over 400 yards in the season-opener against Southern Miss.

“We wanted to run the football against UAB,” Mullen said in his post-game press conference. “I think we were able to do that for the most part. It’s good to see us do that.”

On the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs were less successful, allowing UAB to accrue 548 yards of offense, including 435 through the air. Quarterbacks Cody Clements and Jeremi Briscoe paced the Blazers, combining for 398 yards and three touchdowns, including three scores of 75-plus yards.

Despite the yards and points allowed, MSU had several big defensive performances. For the second week in a row, senior defensive end Preston Smith intercepted a tipped pass and this time he returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. Meanwhile, a pair of linebackers filled the stat sheet. Junior Benardrick McKinney accounted for 12 tackles, including one sack and 3.5 for loss, while sophomore Beniquez Brown had six tackles of his own, including one sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. MSU returns to action next Saturday against South Alabama in Mobile.