Week Three was nearly perfect for the Carolinas. All but one school that we cover pulled out a victory this past weekend.
No.16 Coastal Carolina persevered and pulled out the W versus Buffalo 28-25. The Chanticleers’ high-powered offense was held at bay due to three crucial dropped passes that all could have resulted in touchdowns. This was quarterback Grayson McCall’s first game where he looked out of sync: throwing his first interception of the season with around ten minutes left in the game. Led by a relentless rushing attack, the Bulls almost pulled off the upset but as their coach, Maurice Linguist said, “We did not run out of gas, we probably just ran out of time.” Coastal Carolina escapes with their undefeated record unblemished and will strive to continue their streak next week against Massachusetts.
Last week, I stated that the No.21 UNC Tar Heels needed to come out with the same presence they had against Georgia State if they wanted to beat Virginia this week. They did just that as they matched the previous week’s offensive output, and behind a strong second half were able to get by the Cavaliers 59-39. This was a battle throughout the first half as both teams went up and down the field for points seemingly with no resistance from the opposition. In the second half, this was true for the Tar Heels as they scored touchdowns on all their second-half drives. Sam Howell threw for 307 yards and 5 touchdowns while Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong threw for 554 yards and 4 touchdowns. This was the most yards thrown by any Cavalier quarterback ever and the most passing yards a Tar Heel defense has ever allowed to an opposing quarterback. UNC is beginning to find their footing as they face off in Week Four against Georgia Tech.
Wake Forest rode the Seminoles turnover train to an easy 35-14 win. Florida State committed six turnovers throughout the course of this game with three interceptions and three fumbles. This allowed the Deacons offense to have pristine field position every time they took the field, and they capitalized. Florida State continues to utilize their two QB set, but neither McKenzie Milton nor Jordan Travis could keep the ball away from the bruising Deacon defense. Wake Forest is an exciting team to watch, and they seem to just keep getting more and more dominant. They leave Truist Field smiling and will travel to Virginia for another ACC matchup against the Cavaliers in Week Four.
Appalachian State breezed by the Elon Phoenix for a 44-10 win. The Mountaineers drove down the field with ease as they mustered up 528 yards of total offense. Had it not been for two fumbles then that total would have been much higher. The Mountaineer ground game could not be contained as they scored four touchdowns. This was a nice warm-up for a team that has a much more difficult matchup next week against a ferocious Thundering Herd team.
East Carolina rallied late for a come from behind victory against Marshall 42-38. Let’s just skip to the fourth quarter in this one because that’s where the action happened. Holton Ahlers had touchdowns passing, rushing, and receiving in this game. Down 38-21 entering the fourth quarter, the Pirates scored early on a five-yard run by Ahlers. On their next drive, they went into their bag of tricks and Ahlers hauled in a 27-yard dime from receiver Tyler Snead to close the gap to 38-35. In a crazy turn of events, the Pirates recovered their onside kick and rumbled down the field for a touchdown with 55 seconds left. Despite Marshall putting up 647 yards of total offense, they could not stop this crafty Pirates team in the clutch. The Pirates carry their momentum into a Week Four matchup with Charleston Southern.
Finally, our only loss of the week came at the hands of Georgia State 20-9. Charlotte took a step back in this one as this is a very disappointing loss to a Panthers team that has gotten manhandled thus far. Panthers quarterback Darren Grainger only needed six completed passes to lead his team to victory as two of his throws went for touchdowns. The Niners offense was stymied all game as they punted or turned the ball over on downs on nine of their 11 drives. Other teams will be taking notice as it appears Georgia State had the formula to slow down this high-powered offense. Charlotte needs to just brush this loss off and prepare for their next fight against Middle Tennessee State.