East Carolina Pirates

GREENVILLE, NC - SEPTEMBER 05:  Devon Moore #20 of the Appalachian State Mountaineers is tackled by teammates Chris Mattocks #19 and Derek Blacknall #26 of the East Carolina Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Greenville, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Appalachian State, East Carolina announce 4-game series

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North Carolina’s eastern and western Group of 5 programs are going to rekindle their rivalry.

Appalachian State and East Carolina — or is that East Carolina and Appalachian State? — announced Tuesday plans to play a 4-game series in 2021 and then 2024-26.

The teams will meet on opening weekend (Sept. 4) of the 2021 season at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, then go home-and-home for the final three games of the series. East Carolina will host on Sept. 14, 2024, App State will take a turn on Sept. 6, 2025, and East Carolina will close the series on Sept. 5, 2026.

“On behalf of Appalachian State University, I would like to thank Will Webb, the Charlotte Sports Foundation, Jeff Compher and East Carolina University, the Carolina Panthers, and Bank of America Stadium for the opportunity to host a home game in downtown Charlotte,” App State AD Doug Gillin said in a statement Tuesday. “The chance for App State to host a home game in an NFL Stadium, in Charlotte where our largest alumni base is and against a program like East Carolina is a great opportunity for our students-athletes, alumni, and fans.”

“Both football programs have a rich history of success and outstanding fan support,” East Carolina AD Jeff Compher added. “I am especially excited for our future football student-athletes who will have an opportunity to play in such an exceptional NFL venue as Bank of America Stadium. We are grateful to Doug [Gillin] and our colleagues at Appalachian for working together in creating this four-game series.” 

The two teams have met 31 times previously, but only twice since 1979. East Carolina has won each of the recent meetings — 29-24 to open the 2009 season and 35-13 to open ’12, both in Greenville — and holds a 19-12 all-time advantage with wins in the last six and nine of the last 11 matches.

ECU’s third-leading WR granted medical hardship waiver, eligible to play in 2017

ANNAPOLIS, MD - SEPTEMBER 19:  Jimmy Williams #81 of the East Carolina Pirates catches a first half touchdown pass while being covered by Brendon Clements #1 of the Navy Midshipmen on September 19, 2015 in Annapolis, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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After the dust had cleared, Jimmy Williams‘ collegiate career hasn’t come to an end after all.

With his eligibility set to expire, the East Carolina wide receiver has instead been granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA, the school announced Tuesday.  The waiver means Williams will be eligible to play in 2017, which will be his final season of eligibility.

The decision was based on Williams’ true freshman season, which ended after the fifth game of the year because of a broken bone in his foot.  Because Williams didn’t play in more than 30 percent of the Pirates’ games that season and none of his participation came in the second half of the year, the NCAA granted the request for the waiver.

The decision will be a boon to an ECU passing attack that will be losing Zay Jones, the NCAA’s all-time leader in career receptions.

This past season, Williams was second on the team in receiving yards (818) and third in receptions (45).  His 18.2 yards per catch was tops on the Pirates, while his eight touchdown receptions was tied for the team lead.

Temple will travel to Navy for AAC championship game

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 26: Adonis Jennings #17 of the Temple Owls runs with the ball and is tackled by Travis Phillips #14 of the East Carolina Pirates in the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on November 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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For the second consecutive year, Temple will play for the American Athletic Conference championship.  And, yet again, they’ll have do so on the road.

Thanks to Temple’s 27-10 win over East Carolina Saturday, the Owls will represent the East division in the AAC’s title game.  Temple actually finished tied with USF, but, based on the Oct. 21 win over the Bulls, it’s the Owls that can claim the division.

USF needed both a win over  FIU and a Temple loss.  While they got the former, the latter eluded them.

With the division in and, Temple will now turn its attention to the conference championship game against matchup with West champion Navy.  Both the Owls and Midshipmen finished with identical 7-1 records in league play; because the Midshipmen came in at No. 25 in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings and the Owls weren’t ranked, and CFP rankings are the first tiebreaker per AAC rules, the service academy will play host to the title game Dec. 3 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

Last season, Temple dropped a 24-13 decision to Houston in the first-ever AAC title game.  Navy, in its second season in the league, will be making its first appearance.

Lamar Jackson, Jabrill Peppers headline list of major awards finalists

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 22: Jabrill Peppers #5 of the Michigan Wolverines signals a teammate while playing the Illinois Fighting Illini on October 22, 2016 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The college football version of the Oscars are coming, and the nominees were just announced. The National College Football Awards Association, basically every major award south of the Heisman, jointly dropped its finalists on Monday evening.

Winners will be unveiled at the annual Home Depot College Football Awards show set to air from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta on Thursday, Dec. 8 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Let’s get right to them.

Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player)
– Jonathan Allen, Alabama
– Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
– Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

Biletnikoff Award (best wide receiver)
Austin Carr, Northwestern
– Zay Jones, East Carolina
Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma

Butkus Award (best linebacker)
– Kendall Beckwith (LSU)
– Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt)
– Jarrad Davis (Florida)
– Rueben Foster (Alabama)
– Josey Jewell (Iowa)

Lou Groza Award (best kicker)
– Daniel Carlson, Auburn
– Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State
– Younghoe Koo, Georgia Southern

Ray Guy Award (best punter)
– Micheal Dickson, Texas
– Cameron Johnston, Ohio State
– Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah

Mackey Award (best tight end)
Jake Butt (Michigan)
O.J. Howard (Alabama)
Jordan Leggett (Clemson)

Maxwell Award (best player)
– Lamar Jackson, Louisville
– Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
– Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

Davey O’Brien Award (best quarterback)
– Lamar Jackson, Louisville
– Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
– Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Outland Trophy (best interior lineman)
– Pat Elflein, Ohio State
– Cody O’Connell, Washington State
– Cam Robinson, Alabama

Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back)
Dalvin Cook, Florida State
– D’Onta Foreman, Texas
Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State

Wuerffel Trophy (best community servant)
Christian McCaffrey (Stanford)
– Trevor Knight (Texas A&M)
– Garrett Adcock (New Mexico State)

The Home Depot awards show will also recognize the Home Depot Coach of the Year, the NCFAA Contributions to College Football Award, the Disney Spirit Award (already awarded to Pittsburgh’s James Conner), the William V. Campbell Trophy (to be awarded two nights prior at the National Football Foundation dinner in New York), the Allstate Good Works Team and the Walter Camp All-America team.

 

Zay Jones breaks former ECU teammate’s FBS record for career receptions

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 22: Zay Jones #7 of the East Carolina Pirates stiff-arms Grant Coleman #13 of the Cincinnati Bearcats while carrying the ball during the first quarter at Nippert Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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In 2014, Zay Jones watched as teammate Justin Hardy set an FBS record.  Two years later, Jones is the record-setter — at his former East Carolina teammate’s expense.

With his eighth catch of the day in the game against Navy, Hardy pushed his total of career receptions to 388.  That broke the FBS record of 387 set by Hardy from 2011-14.

Jones caught 62 passes as a freshman in 2013, then grabbed 81 and 98 the next two seasons. Coming into today’s game, Jones had a whopping 139 receptions; the FBS single-season record is 155 by Bowling Green’s Freddie Barnes in 2009. As Jones already has 10 receptions in the first half against Navy — he’s caught at least 10 passes in 10 of 11 games this year — he’s just six catches away from tying and seven from breaking Barnes’ seven-year-old standard.