College football roundup: Virginia Tech holds off Sam Howell, No. 10 North Carolina

In this Oct. 3, 2020, photo, North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell passes against Boston College in Boston.
North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell, shown last season, struggled against Virginia Tech on Friday night in a 17-10 loss in Blacksburg, Va.
(Michael Dwyer / Associated Press)

Braxton Burmeister ran for a touchdown and threw for another, and Virginia Tech made Sam Howell look pedestrian in a 17-10 victory over No. 10 North Carolina on Friday night in Blacksburg, Va., in the opener for both teams.

Burmeister scored on a four-yard run and found James Mitchell for an 11-yard scoring strike as the Hokies built a 14-0 lead they took into halftime.

They struggled to put the game away in the second half until the final minute when they chased Howell from the pocket at the Virginia Tech 40-yard line and he tried to find a teammate but instead threw an interception to seal the outcome.


“We couldn’t put the game away, but the defense continued to rise to the occasion,” Hokies coach Justin Fuente said, calling it as impressive a performance as he has seen.

Chip Kelly and UCLA look for their biggest win since the Obama presidency while Ed Orgeron and LSU seek an opening victory after rare .500 season.

Sept. 3, 2021

Howell, who had thrown eight touchdown passes in two previous games against Virginia Tech, was sacked six times and harassed all night. His final pick came when he was in the grasp of Jordan Williams and found Chamarri Conner.

The play was reviewed, and when the officials announced that it was an interception, the sellout crowd at Lane Stadium erupted with relief. Many fans joined the team in celebration on the field after the game, which marked the first time since the 2019 season that fan attendance was not limited.

“Obviously, now the shine’s off and the rating sure doesn’t matter tonight,” Tar Heels coach Mack Brown said. “We were overrated with the way we played.”

Howell did become the Tar Heels’ career touchdown pass leader with 69 when Josh Downs took a screen pass 37 yards for a score in the third quarter, but he was unable to find his usual magic late.

Michigan State 38, Northwestern 21

Kenneth Walker III ran for a career-high 264 yards and a personal-best four touchdowns in an impressive debut with his new team, and the Spartans defeated the Wildcats in the teams’ season opener in Evanston, Ill.


Walker more than doubled his previous high of 131 yards for Wake Forest in a loss to North Carolina State last season. He never ran for more than three touchdowns in two years with the Demon Deacons.

Walker set the tone in this one when he broke off a 75-yard touchdown on the game’s first play from scrimmage and scored from the three-yard line on the next possession to make it 14-0.

The Spartans (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) cruised from there, denying the Wildcats (0-1, 0-1) the payback they were seeking. Northwestern lost in East Lansing last season on the way to a 7-2 mark and its second West Division championship in three years.

When USC plays host to San Jose State on Saturday, star wide receiver Drake London takes his next steps in his likely progression to the NFL.

Sept. 3, 2021

Payton Thorne, starting over Temple transfer Anthony Russo, threw for 185 yards and one touchdown. The sophomore completed 15 of 26 passes in his second career start.

Michigan State outgained Northwestern 511-400 in total yards and 326-117 in rushing. And the Spartans opened their second season under coach Mel Tucker on a winning note after going 2-5 last year.

Hunter Johnson threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns in his first start for Northwestern since 2019. With Peyton Ramsey starting, Johnson played in two games last year and did not attempt a pass. He beat out former South Carolina starter Ryan Hilinski and senior Andrew Marty for the job this season.


Trey Pugh had two touchdown catches, but Northwestern lost to Michigan State for the seventh time in the past eight home games.

Colorado 35, Northern Colorado 7

Freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis and the Buffaloes rumbled past the Bears in Boulder, Colo., spoiling former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey’s college head coaching debut.

McCaffrey, whose team sat out 2020 because of the pandemic, had one son — Max — with him on the sideline serving as his offensive coordinator and another — Dylan, a transfer from Michigan — at quarterback.

The Buffaloes foiled the state’s first family of football.

In his first start, Lewis completed 10 of 15 passes for 102 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown pass to sliding freshman Montana Lemorious-Craig, and ran eight times for 44 yards.

Colorado (1-0) outgained Northern Colorado 281 yards to 17 yards on the ground.

The Buffaloes got touchdown runs from tailbacks Jarek Broussard, Alex Fontenot, Ashaad Clayton and Deion Smith, with Broussard leading the way with 94 yards in 15 carries.

Lewis’ only other college experience came in relief of Sam Noyer (now at Oregon State) in the Alamo Bowl against Texas last season. He won the starting job this summer when his main competition, Tennessee transfer JT Shrout, blew out a knee in a scrimmage last month.


Dylan McCaffrey finished 24 for 41 for 236 yards and a touchdown with an interception.

Charlotte 31, Duke 28

Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds is congratulated by fans after a win over Duke on Sept. 3, 2021.
Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds is congratulated by fans after the 49ers’ win over Duke.
(Brian Westerholt / Associated Press)

Chris Reynolds threw for 324 yards with three touchdowns, including an 11-yard scoring strike to Shadrick Byrd with 33 seconds left, and the 49ers knocked off the Blue Devils in Charlotte, N.C., for the school’s first win against a Power 5 team.

Victor Tucker had eight catches for 133 yards and Greg DuBose, a transfer from Division II Miles College, caught four passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns for Charlotte, which avenged a 53-19 loss to Duke last season.

The game featured six lead changes, including three in the fourth quarter.

The 49ers overcame a Blue Devils school-record 255 yards rushing and three touchdowns from running back Mataeo Durant.

Gunnar Holmberg threw for 258 yards and a score in his first career start for Duke but also fumbled inside Charlotte’s five-yard line. Jordan Waters added 105 yards from scrimmage, including a 43-yard touchdown reception, for the Blue Devils.

Charlotte was 0-6 against power-conference schools all time — including 0-3 against Atlantic Coast Conference schools — in its first nine seasons as a program.


Kansas 17, South Dakota 14

In Lawrence, Kan., Jason Bean hit Lawrence Arnold for their second touchdown connection with 1:12 remaining, allowing the Jayhawks to escape with a victory over the Coyotes in coach Lance Leipold’s debut with Kansas.

South Dakota, which trailed 10-0 late in the third quarter, had pulled ahead when Kansas native Travis Theis ran 25 yards for a go-ahead score with 5:16 to go. But the Jayhawks answered by driving 64 yards in less than four minutes, converting a fourth and 10 along the way and getting some help from a targeting penalty on South Dakota freshman Myles Harden.

How good did it feel to win for Kansas? The student section rushed the field to celebrate the end of a 13-game skid — albeit against an opponent from the Football Championship Subdivision — and the Jayhawks’ first win since beating Texas Tech on Oct. 26, 2019.

Wake Forest 42, Old Dominion 10

Christian Beal-Smith ran for two touchdowns and Ja’Sir Taylor scored on a 99-yard kickoff return to help the Demon Deacons beat the Monarchs in the season opener for both teams in Winston-Salem, N.C.

It marked Old Dominion’s return to the field after not playing last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sam Hartman also threw for three scores for Wake Forest, with one of those going to Jaquarii Roberson for his fifth consecutive game with a touchdown.


Eastern Michigan 35, St. Francis (Pa.) 15

Samson Evans scored three, short rushing first-half touchdowns, and the Eagles beat the Red Flash of the FCS in the season opener for both teams in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Darius Boone ran for 107 yards and a touchdown in 22 carries for Eastern Michigan. Kahtero Summers caught five passes for 115 yards for St. Francis.