LYNCHBURG — Abdul Adams, Jarveon Howard and Moe Neal ran for touchdowns and No. 22 Syracuse spoiled a most unusual debut for Hugh Freeze as Liberty’s coach with a 24-0 victory on Saturday night.
Still recovering from back surgery for a herniated disk on Aug. 16 and a staph infection, Freeze coached from a hospital bed in the coaching box. The school said he was in communication with his coaches and players during the game and that the bed was used to support his healing back. Freeze addressed the team before the game via video hook-up, again at halftime and was to after the game as well.
He couldn’t have liked much of what he saw.
Stephen Calvert threw two interceptions, as many as Freeze had said the fourth-year starter had thrown in all of fall camp, and was sacked eight times by a defense that returned players responsible for 34 sacks last season, the most in the football subdivision.
With quarterback Tommy DeVito taking over the Syracuse offense, the Orange led just 10-0 at halftime thanks to Andre Szmyt’s 45-yard field goal and Adams’ 2-yard run. An interception by Andre Cisco in the third quarter set Syracuse up at the Flames’ 37 and Howard capped a five-play drive with a 1-yard run. Neal’s 42-yard burst capped the scoring in the final quarter.
North Carolina 24, South Carolina 20
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — True freshman quarterback Sam Howell threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns, Myles Wolfork had two late fourth quarter interceptions and North Carolina battled back to beat South Carolina in Mack Brown’s return to the sideline following a five-year hiatus.
Howell capped second half drives of 98 and 95 yards with a 22-yard TD strike to Dyami Brown and a 17-yard scoring toss to Beau Corrales to give Brown his first win since 2013, when he coached at Texas. Brown was holding back tears as he was interviewed leaving the field.
Boise State 36, Florida State 31
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Hank Bachmeier tossed a third-quarter TD pass and Robert Mahone had a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth and Boise State rallied from an 18-point deficit to knock off Florida State.
In a game moved from Jacksonville to Tallahassee with an earlier start time due to Hurricane Dorian, Florida State squandered a 31-13 lead and lost its season opener for the third straight time.
Bachmeier, a true freshman, was pounded early by Florida State’s defensive front for five sacks and eight hurries. But he threw for 407 yards as Boise State defeated a Power 5 team for the sixth time since the 2014 season. It was the most passing yards by a Boise State first-time starting quarterback.
N.C. State 34, East Carolina 6
RALEIGH, N.C. — Matthew McKay ran for two touchdowns and threw for another in his first start at quarterback while North Carolina State shut down East Carolina’s ground game to beat the Pirates.
McKay scored on a 4-yard keeper just before halftime for a 17-3 lead, then got loose around the left side and dove for the pylon for a 21-yard score early in the fourth. McKay also found a wide-open Tabari Hines on the right side for a 48-yard touchdown in the third as the Wolfpack broke the game open.
Holton Ahlers threw for 168 yards for the Pirates in their first game under new coach Mike Houston. But a promising game-opening drive ended when Ahlers fumbled inside the Wolfpack 5-yard line, and ECU never got near the end zone again until late with the outcome long decided.
No. 2 Alabama 42, Duke 3
ATLANTA — Tua Tagovailoa threw for 336 yards and four touchdowns as No. 2 Alabama overcame a sluggish start to blow out Duke in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.
Returning to the stadium where they won the Southeastern Conference title last December and the national championship two seasons ago, the Crimson Tide (1-0) was held scoreless in the first quarter — which happened only one time in 2018. But the Blue Devils (0-1) merely delayed the inevitable.
Wake Forest 38, Utah State 35
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Jamie Newman threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Hinton with 1:08 remaining, and Wake Forest held on to beat Jordan Love and Utah State late Friday night.
Newman finished with three touchdown passes, and his 70-yard pass to Sage Surratt to the Utah State 1 set up the fourth-down scoring pass after the Aggies stuffed three straight runs by Cade Carney. It helped the Demon Deacons earn a wild win that featured a combined 1,175 total yards.