AKRON, Ohio — Tyler Johnston III passed for 319 yards and four touchdowns, including a 76-yarder to Myron Mitchell, and UAB held off Akron 31-20 on Saturday in the programs’ first gridiron meeting.
The Blazers took a 7-6 first-quarter lead on Johnston’s 49-yard TD pass to Kendall Parham, then scored 24 unanswered points before the Zips mounted a fourth-quarter comeback after stopping the Blazers on downs.
Johnston, 15-of-24 passing with one interception, hit Austin Watkins on TD passes of 28 and 40 yards before connecting with Mitchell on the 76-yarder in the third quarter. Watkins had three catches for 95 yards, Parham grabbed four for 94, and Mitchell caught two for 88 yards. Spencer Brown, who entered with 2,633 career rushing yards and is vying to become UAB’s career rushing leader, was held to 35 yards on 16 carries.
Virginia Tech 31, Old Dominion 17
BLACKSBURG, Va. — Ryan Willis was having a nice makeup day, and then he wasn’t, a fumble after a 13-yard run marring his performance.
Unlike a week ago, when five turnovers — including four by Willis — cost them in a 35-28 loss to Boston College, the Hokies did enough to hang on for a 31-17 victory against Old Dominion, but Willis also got the message that continuing to cough the ball up will cost him, too.
Willis also threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Virginia Tech (1-1) avenged a stunning loss to the Monarchs last season. He got his neck twisted up in the tackle after the long run and was pulled from the game, but coach Justin Fuente said concern was a factor.
Stone Smartt scored on runs of 3 and 15 yards for the Monarchs (1-1), but was helped off the field after a 2-yard run with 5:31 to play. He eventually returned and felt like the Monarchs had acquitted themselves well with their rally to make it tense in the second half.
Willis hit Hezekiah Grimsley with a 9-yard scoring pass in the right corner of the end zone in the second quarter. Grimsley gained control of the ball with his right hand and then pulled it into his body. Willis also hit Phil Patterson from 13 yards out on third-and-6 to restore the Hokies’ two-touchdown cushion with 11:56 to play, and he finished a 93-yard drive for a 24-3 lead with a 1-yard run early in the third quarter.
Louisiana Tech 20, Grambling 14
RUSTON, La. (AP) — J’Mar Smith threw for 220 yards and a score and Louisiana Tech held off Grambling for a 20-14 victory on Saturday.
Although the schools are located five miles apart, it was just the second meeting between the teams. Louisiana Tech beat the Tigers 20-6 in 2010 at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Louisiana Tech (1-1) jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead before Jakarie Nichols scored on a 12-yard run to cap a 93-yard drive for Grambling (0-2). A turnover and a failed fourth-down conversion stalled consecutive long drives from the Tigers, but Grambling found the end zone when Nichols scored on a 2-yard run with 3:23 to play. The Tigers recovered the ensuing onside kick but then couldn’t convert a first down.
Justin Henderson ran for a 7-yard touchdown in the first quarter for the Bulldogs. Smith threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Griffin Hebert, and Bailey Hale kicked two field goals in the second quarter.
The game was dubbed the Buddy Bowl in honor of Orville Kince (O.K. “Buddy”) Davis, a Ruston, Louisiana, native who covered the Tigers and Bulldogs for the Ruston Daily Leader. The 73-year-old Davis died on July 13 in Ruston.
Appalachian State 56, Charlotte 41
BOONE, N.C. (AP) — Darrynton Evans broke for an 87-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game and closed out the scoring when he returned an on-side kick 46 yards and the Mountaineers held on to get by Charlotte 56-41 on Saturday.
Evans, who finished with 298 all-purpose yards, charged through a huge hole in the line and ran untouched to put Appalachian State up 7-0. Evans, who had a 68-yard scoring romp in the fourth quarter, finished with a career-high 234 yards rushing on 19 carries with four touchdowns. Evans plucked the onside kick out of the air and raced untouched for the final score. Zac Thomas finished with 182 yards and three TDs passing.
Shaun Jolly broke through to block a punt that D’Marco Jackson scooped up and returned 16 yards to give the Mountaineers a 28-13 lead late in the first half. Appalachian State took a 42-20 lead late in the third when Thomas hit Jalen Virgil in stride on a 73-yard scoring toss.
Charlotte’s Chris Reynolds, who threw for 296 yards and four touchdowns, found Victor Tucker on a 23-yard scoring play to close to 42-34 before Evans sprinted 68 yards for the score and a 49-34 advantage.
The Mountaineers (2-0) will take a week off before traveling to Chapel Hill, N.C. to face North Carolina. Charlotte (1-1) will face UMass next Saturday.