Carolinas College Football: Weekend in review 11.02.14

Appalachian State (3-5, 2-2 Sun Belt)

Beat Georgia State 44-0

What worked: On a snowy day, the Mountaineers were effective on offense, especially their running game. Marcus Cox ran for a career-high 250 yards and three touchdowns; Ricky Fergerson had 123 yards. Appalachian State limited Georgia State, which entered the game leading the Sun Belt with 303 passing yards per game, to 62 yards, 8 on the ground.

What needs work: There were times the Mountaineers stalled offensively, especially during a stretch in the second quarter, missing a field goal and settling for another (although that turned out to be a touchdown-producing fake).

What’s next: The Mountaineers host to Louisiana-Monroe (3-5, 2-2), which played Texas A&M tough in a 21-16 loss. David Scott

No. 24 Duke (7-1, 3-1 ACC)

Beat Pittsburgh 51-48 (2OT)

What worked: Duke’s offense had a banner day, racking up 438 yards. Pitt out-gained the Blue Devils with 594 yards, but Duke averaged more yards per play (7.6, compared to the Panthers’ 6.7).

Anthony Boone was nearly flawless: 23 for 31 (74.2 percent) for 266 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers. He also rushed for 47 yards on seven carries, including a 12-yard touchdown run in the first overtime. Only three of Boone’s throws could be classified as “inaccurate,” and two came on fade routes to Johnell Barnes in the corner of the end zone when the timing wasn’t quite right.

Wide receiver Jamison Crowder had his best game of the year: nine receptions, 165 yards and two touchdowns. He beat freshman cornerback Avonte Maddox like a drum in the first half, with five catches (on five targets) for 111 yards and two touchdowns of 39 and 45 yards. Pitt switched redshirt junior Lafayette Pitts on Crowder in the second half.

What needs work: There will be plenty to critique on the defensive film. The Blue Devils had only missed 34 tackles coming into this game – they were well over double digits trying to haul down running back James Conner, who ran the ball 38 times for 263 yards, both career highs. Conner had 89 yards on the first two drives alone.

What’s next: A trip to Syracuse (3-6, 1-4 ACC) with a 12:30 kickoff. Laura Keeley

East Carolina (6-2, 3-1 AAC)

Lost to Temple 20-10

What worked: The Pirates defense did its best to keep East Carolina in the game, holding Temple to 65 yards rushing and 70 passing for a season-low 135 yards of total offense.

Led by inside linebacker Brandon Williams (eight tackles) and nose tackle Terry Williams (5 tackles, 1 sack, 3 tackles for loss), East Carolina forced the Owls to punt on nine of their 11 possessions, holding them to 4 of 14 on third downs.

After running back Breon Allen fumbled twice on the Pirates’ first two possessions, Chris Hairston proved to be a viable second option. Hairston, who also lost a fumble, out-gained Temple’s entire offense, rushing 21 times for a career-high 153 yards.

With the offense showing little life, the punting of Worth Gregory took on added importance and he delivered. The Alabama transfer averaged 41.3 yards on three punts, pinning all three inside the 20-yard line.

What needs work: East Carolina acted as if it had never played in the rain, losing five fumbles which led to all of Temple’s points. The Pirates’ five turnovers were the most since they did it against Memphis in 2012.

A combination of cold, rainy weather and an opportunistic Owls defense led to a total of seven ECU fumbles, which was as many as it had over the course of its first seven games.

The Pirates offense that ranked 13th in the FBS with 39.6 points per game was nowhere to be found. When ECU wasn’t fumbling the ball away, it was plagued by incomplete passes and penalties. Record-breaking quarterback Shane Carden struggled mightily in the inclement conditions, completing 24 of his 41 attempts for 217 yards. It was only the third time in his career that he had not thrown a TD pass.

For the fourth time in eight games, ECU racked up more than 100 penalty yards, committing 12 infractions for 120 yards.

What’s next: East Carolina heads into a bye week for the third and final time this season and will play at Cincinnati on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. The Bearcats (5-3, 3-1 AAC), who also have next week off, beat Tulane 38-14 in their last outing. Brian Hanes

North Carolina (4-5, 2-3 ACC)

Lost to Miami 47-20

What worked: The Tar Heels scored a defensive touchdown. That was probably the biggest positive – Cayson Collins’ 39-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Collins, a freshman linebacker, has been one of the bright spots for UNC’s dismal defensive peformance this season. UNC trailed 44-6 midway through the third quarter before it scored a couple touchdowns to make the final score look more respectable – albeit not all that respectable.

What needs work: The Tar Heels finished with 258 yards, their fewest under coach Larry Fedora. In fact, that’s the fewest yards any of Fedora’s offenses have generated in his seven seasons as a head coach (the first four at Southern Miss). The offensive line, which had made some strides in recent weeks, took a step back and allowed six sacks. The running game was nonexistent. And junior quarterback Marquise Williams as though he wasn’t at full strength. Without the offense playing well, it’s difficult to see UNC winning two of its final three games to become bowl eligible.

Up next: The Tar Heels have an off week, which should help them heal both physically and mentally. After that, they host Pitt Nov. 15. Andrew Carter

N.C. State (5-4, 1-4 ACC)

Beat Syracuse, 24-17

What worked: A year after giving up 362 rushing yards to Syracuse, the Wolfpack defense held the Orange to 38 on 37 attempts. The defense also sacked Syracuse quarterback A.J. Long a season-high eight times. Freshman defensive end Pharoah McKever returned an interception 82 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter. Freshman running back Jaylen Samuels converted a fake punt for an 18-yard gain and also had an 28-yard carry from scrimmage. Senior kicker Nik Sade, who has been struggling lately, made all three of his field-goal attempts and his lone PAT.

What needs work: The offensive line struggled to protect quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who threw for only 186 yards. Running backs Shadrach Thornton (21 yards) and Matt Dayes (31) struggled to find daylight against the Orange’s defense. Long, in his third college start, threw for 307 yards. The onside kick recovery team also seemed to run away from the ball on Syracuse’s successful attempt with 17 seconds left in the game.

What’s next: Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2 ACC) makes a rare trip to Carter-Finley Stadium (12:30 p.m., WRAL). Joe Giglio

South Carolina (4-5, 2-5 SEC)

Lost to Tennessee 45-42 (OT)

What worked: Before the season coach Steve Spurrier predicted a large and varied role for wide receiver Pharoh Cooper. He came through in just that manner Saturday night, catching two touchdown passes and running and passing for two others. He caught 11 passes for a school-record 233 yards.

What needs work: Where have you heard this before? South Carolina’s defense can’t protect fourth-quarter leads. It blew games against Missouri and Kentucky in that fashion earlier this season and did it again, giving up a late touchdown to the Volunteers. More surprisingly, the offensive line gave up two overtime sacks of Dylan Thompson that forced a desperate(and unsuccessful) 58-yard field-goal try.

What’s next: The Gamecocks have Saturday off before a Nov. 15 game at Florida. The Gators upset Georgia. Rick Bonnell