Carolina College Football Kickoff!         

Ethan Engellau 

Staff Writer

College Football is here! The 2021 football season is sure to have fans in the Carolinas glued to their TV screens with two ranked teams, and others with Top 25 potential.

Week One began on a high note for No. 22 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers as they demolished The Citadel 52-14. Thanks to the hot start from the Chanticleers, who came out with a strong rushing attack in the first half with two rushing touchdowns for Reese White and another added by Shermari Jones, the game was well in hand by halftime. By the end of the first half, the score read 31-0. 

Following their impressive victory, Coastal Carolina rose five spots in the AP Poll up to No.17. Coastal Carolina seems to be on a mission to prove to everyone that last season was no fluke, and they are here to contend. 

The same fruits of success were not available for another ranked Carolina team as the No. 10 North Carolina Tar Heels fell to ACC rival, the Virginia Tech Hokies, in the season opener 17-10. Heisman-candidate-quarterback Sam Howell had a very non-Heisman-like performance with three interceptions and only one touchdown pass. The Hokies defense held the Tar Heels scoreless in the first half while quarterback Braxton Burmeister threw for one touchdown and ran for another to put the Hokies up 14-0 at halftime. 

The Tar Heels came out of the locker room with some fight in them in the second half, with Sam Howell hitting Josh Downs on a 37-yard strike for his sole touchdown pass of the game. However, all three of his interceptions came in the second half, including a crucial interception by Chamarri Cooper, with thirty-seven seconds left in the game that put a seal on the Hokies victory. 

Following the 17-10 defeat, UNC fell all the way to No.24 in the AP Poll. They will look to bounce back in Week Two against Georgia State.

Elsewhere in NC, the Duke Blue Devils and Charlotte 49ers battled it out for bragging rights and NC football supremacy. After a 53-19 loss to the Blue Devils last season, the 49ers came out hungry, scoring on their first drive on a 56-yard touchdown pass from Chris Reynolds to Grant Dubose to get the 49ers rolling. After Charlotte added a field goal, Duke struck back with two touchdowns of their own, first with a 43-yard pass from Gunnar Holmberg and a 5-yard run from Mataeo Durant, putting the Blue Devils up 14-10 at the end of the first half. 

During the second half, in one of the most electrifying stretches from Week One, the 49ers struck first with a smooth drive down the field ending in a 1-yard touchdown run from Chris Reynolds to take a 17-14 advantage. After an easy 59-yard touchdown run for Blue Devil Mataeo Durant, the action kicked off with Duke leading 21-17 and about seven minutes left to play. The Niners drove down the field with ease, capped off by a 9-yard touchdown reception by Grant Dubose for his second of the game. Once again, led by the dominant Mataeo Durant, Duke diced right through the Niners’ defense to answer back on a 53-yard touchdown run. 

Down 28-24 with a little less than two minutes left on the clock, Charlotte crafted a masterful drive to lead the Niners to their first win in school history over a Power 5 team, ending on an 11-yard screen pass to Shadrick Byrd. This is a magical start to the season for Charlotte who will face off against Gardner-Webb in Week Two. As for Duke, they will look for redemption against NC A&T.

The Appalachian State Mountaineers and East Carolina Pirates faced off in another match-up of NC schools with App State coming out as victors 33-19. The Mountaineers’ offense was on full display as they ran for 226 yards and quarterback Chase Brice added two touchdown passes. App State hopes this performance can carry over into their Week Two match-up against a gritty No.22 ranked Miami team. 

NC State’s opponent might as well have not shown up as the Wolfpack decimated the South Florida Bulls 45-0. Wide receiver Ricky Person Jr. caught two touchdowns and ran for one in just the first half. This was more than enough as NC State cruised to victory and look to continue their streak in Week Two against Mississippi State. 

Finally, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons demolished Old Dominion 42-10. Ja’Sir Taylor recorded a 99-yard kickoff return touchdown at the end of the first quarter to give the Deacons an energy boost that carried throughout the rest of the game. 

College Football did not disappoint in Week One with lots of high-powered offense and some nail biters that should give fans an optimistic outlook into what the 2021 season shall hold.

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