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Sept. 22 11 p.m. sports: ECU falls, UNC, N.C. State, Duke win

East Carolina University wore a special helmet during Saturday's game with South Florida (ECU photo)
East Carolina University wore a special helmet during Saturday's game with South Florida (ECU photo)
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Cronkrite’s 80-yard TD run helps USF beat ECU 20-13

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — East Carolina’s bid to wrap up an extended weather-related Florida stay with a victory came up just short.

Jordan Cronkrite had the go-ahead 80-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and South Florida beat Hurricane Florence-impacted East Carolina 20-13 in the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams on Saturday night.

East Carolina relocated to Orlando, Florida by bus Sept 12th as the storm approached the North and South Carolina coastlines. The Pirates didn’t travel to Blacksburg, Virginia for a scheduled game Sept. 15th at No. 13 Virginia Tech due to safety concerns and potentially hazardous travel conditions before and after that game.

“We just stayed focused on the game,” East Carolina quarterback Reid Herring said. “It will be good to see what our families are doing back home. Obviously we wanted to come away with the win for them. We’re just hoping that everybody’s OK back home.”

Cronkrite’s run put USF up 20-13 with 10:13 left. He finished with 129 yards on 15 carries.

“I was just trying to give my team a lift.” Cronkrite said. “I really had the easy job. All I did was run straight. The offensive line did a great job making a seam for me.”

The Bulls had been limited to 31 yards rushing entering the fourth quarter.

“Great job by ECU,” Cronkrite said. “They played a hard-fought game. We just got the ‘W.’”

Blake Barnett went 12 for 20 for 181 yards and one touchdown for USF (4-0). He also ran for a 2-yard score.

“It wasn’t pretty,” USF coach Charlie Strong said. “It’s good that you get the win. The offense didn’t play very well. We weren’t ready to play.”

South Florida, which entered averaging 522.3 yards, was held to 296. The Bulls did extend their streak of scoring 20 or more points to 34 consecutive games, the longest active run in the nation.

ECU (1-2) used two quarterbacks. Herring completed 21 of 48 passes for 253 yards and Holton Ahlers picked up 48 yards on 12 rushes while completing 1 of 2 passes for 3 yards.

“We wanted to make it a low-scoring game,” ECU coach Scottie Montgomery said. “We wanted to get into the fourth quarter as a one-score game and really, really grind it out.”

Barnett hooked up with Darnell Salomon for a 66-yard TD pass and a 13-7 lead early in the second.

Jake Verity had a 28-yard field to make it 13-10 as the first half ended. The kick came two plays after Herring walked gingerly off the field following a 5-yard to run to the 5 with 15 seconds left.

Herring retuned for the Pirates initial second-half possession.

After forcing a turnover, ECU pulled to 13-all on a 24-yard field goal by Verity early in the third quarter.

Ahlers scored on a two-yard run as East Carolina opened the game with a nine-play, 82-yard drive.

USF got within 7-6 on Barnett’s two-yard dash late in the first. The extra-point try was blocked.


East Carolina: The Pirates kept it close through the third quarter using a ball control offense that outgained USF 305-199. ECU had the ball for more than 29 minutes, running 69 plays compared to the Bulls’ 40, going into the fourth quarter.

South Florida: The Bulls remained, along with No. 16 Central Florida (3-0) and Cincinnati (4-0), among the only undefeated teams in the AAC. All three are in the East Division. The Bulls play at Cincinnati, which rallied from a 24-7 halftime deficit Saturday to beat Ohio 34-30, on Nov. 10th


Barnett has eight touchdown passes and ran for four more this season. . Solomon has caught a TD pass in three consecutive games. . It was the Bulls 150th win, coming in their 22nd season. . Verity has made all of his seven field-goal attempts this season.


Terrence Horne, averaging 47 yards on six kick-off returns with two TDs, hurt his knee in practice and didn’t play. TE Mitchell Wilcox left during the first half with an ankle injury.


East Carolina: Closes out its non-conference slate Saturday at home against Old Dominion (1-3), which upset Virginia Tech 49-35 Saturday.

South Florida: Plays its last non-conference game after an off week Oct. 6th at UMass (2-3).


Finley leads NC State over Marshall 37-20

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — North Carolina State remains unbeaten after its first road trip and after being handed a week off by Hurricane Florence.

Ryan Finley threw for 377 yards and a touchdown to lead North Carolina State to a 37-20 victory over Marshall on Saturday night.

Kelvin Harmon caught six passes for 150 yards, all in the first half, and Reggie Gallaspy had two short TD runs for the Wolfpack (3-0), who never trailed in their final tuneup to next weekend’s start of the ACC schedule.

Both teams were idle last week after their respective games were called off. North Carolina State surpassed 500 yards of offense for the second straight game.

“I think we’ve handled our business and that’s all you can do,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “We’ve put ourselves in a good position going into conference play. We’re right where we want to be. ”

N.C. State’s C.J. Riley fumbled after a hard hit from Jaquan Yulee on a kickoff early in the third quarter. Marshalls’ Artis Johnson scooped up the loose ball and went 22 yards for a touchdown to pull the Thundering Herd within 23-17.

Finley, who completed 23 of 40 passes, then took the Wolfpack 75 yards in six plays, finding Emeka Emezie with a 30-yard scoring toss to push the lead back to double digits to stay.

“I thought the guys responded,” Doeren said. “That is what I was most proud of tonight. It seemed like every time they got momentum, we just — bam — we were right back on them. I love that — that resiliency is a very positive thing for our football team to show them tonight.”


Morgan State shocks NC A&T 16-13 on Raya’s last play FG

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Alex Raya’s 36-yard field goal as time ran out lifted Morgan State to a 16-13 upset over North Carolina A&T on Saturday night, ending the Aggies’ 15-game winning streak.

Raya had tied the game with a career-best 51-yard field goal earlier in the fourth quarter and kicked his first field goal of the season in the third quarter.

The game was a nonconference matchup between the Bears (1-3), who were picked last in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference the preseason favorite and fourth-ranked FCS Aggies (3-1), who went 12-0 last season, capped by a win over Grambling in the Celebration Bowl.

North Carolina A&T, which was going for a school record 12th-straight home win, had won 39 straight games when leading after three quarters. On Nov. 9, 2013 at Morgan State the Bears won 24-23 when Chris Moller kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired.

After Raya’s long field goal, the Aggies went 49 yards in 14 plays before Noel Ruiz missed a 43-yard field goal with 3:19 to play. The Bears then drove from their 26 to the NCA&T 19 before Raya’s kick after two timeouts. DeAndre Harris started the drive with a 34-yard connection to Jack McCracken and picked up another first down with a 13-yard pass to Deontaye White. Three runs picked up eight more yards.

Morgan State had a 270-208 advantage in total offense and both teams had two turnovers.


Harris throws 3 TD passes to lead Duke

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke is getting a rare second chance at being 4-0, and the Blue Devils plan to take advantage of it.

Quentin Harris passed for 202 yards and three touchdowns before leaving with an injury as Duke beat North Carolina Central 55-13 on Saturday.

Brittain Brown rushed for 118 yards and a score and added a 44-yard touchdown catch to help the Blue Devils start 4-0 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1952-53.

Duke lost its next six games after the hot start in 2017, having to rally in November to earn a bowl berth.

“We don’t want a repeat of last year,” Duke linebacker Joe Giles-Harris said. “That hurt. We had to dig ourselves out of a grave we shouldn’t have been in.”

Duke scored touchdowns on its first three possessions and piled up 628 total yards, improving to 7-0 against its city rival from the Football Championship Subdivision.


North Carolina beats Pittsburgh 38-35 in its ACC opener

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina finally got its offense playing with sustained efficiency and its defense providing sacks and third-quarter stops, a combination that helped turn things around in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener,

The Tar Heels are hoping it helps leave that 0-2 start completely in the past, too.

Antonio Williams and Nathan Elliott turned in career-best performances Saturday in the Tar Heels’ best offensive showing of the season, helping UNC beat Pittsburgh 38-35 in its return after having a game canceled due to Hurricane Florence.

UNC (1-2, 1-0 ACC) lost at California and East Carolina to start the season, then Florence canceled last weekend’s home game against No. 16 UCF and took the Tar Heels out of in-season routines.

“I don’t think it hurt us at all,” Elliott said. “I think our team’s pretty mature and we used that to our advantage. It kind of helped us have a reset, kind of have a new season now — a nine-game season after that break.”

Williams, an Ohio State transfer, ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns, while Elliott shook off two games worth of accuracy issues to throw for a career-best 313 yards with two scores while completing 71 percent of his passes.

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