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Duke rolls past Northern Illinois in Quick Lane Bowl

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Duke used a big day from quarterback Thomas Jones and a baffling fake punt attempt to roll past Northern Illinois for a 36-14 win in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit.

Trailing 7-0 with 4:32 to play in the first quarter, Northern Illinois punter Matt Ference trotted onto the field for what everyone thought would be a boot from his own end zone. Everyone but him, that is.

Instead, Ference decided to pass. It was fourth and 18.

Duke (7-6) took over at the NIU 11-yard line and needed three plays to score, a 1-yard Shaun Wilson run that gave the Blue Devils a 14-0 lead a dozen minutes into the game.

Northern Illinois (8-5) struck back with two quick scoring drives. The first was a 2-play, 68-yard drive that saw Marcus Childers hit Spencer Tears for a 43-yard gain and then Tre Harbison score on a 25-yard rush. After forcing a three-and-out, the Huskies tied the game on a 67-yard strike from Childers to Jauan Wesley, knotting the score at 14-14 with 12:22 left in the first half.

Duke re-gained the lead on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Jones to T.J. Rahming, but William Holmquist‘s PAT missed. The Blue Devils pushed their lead back to two scores with an 11-yard swing pass from Jones to Wilson with 1:33 left before the break, but Jones’s 2-point pass was intercepted in the end zone.

 

Jones fumbled at the NIU 31-yard line to open the second half, but atoned for the mistake by leading an 11-play, 67-yard touchdown drive that culminated in a 7-yard Brittain Brown run that put the Blue Devils up 33-14 at the 6:58 mark of the third quarter. Duke ended any chance of a Hail Mary comeback with a 16-play drive that consumed the entire first half of the fourth quarter, ending in a 24-yard Holmquist field goal to push the lead to 22. Derrick Tangelo all but ended the game with a sack of Childers on 4th-and-5 from midfield with six and a half minutes remaining.

Jones finished the game hitting 27-of-40 throws for 252 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing 16 times for a game-high 86 yards and a touchdown. Wilson and Brown combined to carry 29 times for 116 yards and two additional scores. Childers completed 15-of-26 passes for 234 yards with a touchdown and no picks, and Harbison rushed 13 times for 59 yards and a touchdown.

The win handed Duke its fifth bowl victory ever, and just its second since 1962. Northern Illinois dropped to 0-5 in bowl games under head coach Rod Carey. Not surprisingly, this was the first all-time meeting between the Blue Devils and the Huskies.

Pitt announces hiring of ex-Maryland WRs coach Chris Beatty

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Nearly three weeks after clearing out a pair of spots on his offensive coaching staff, Pat Narduzzi has filled in those self-created holes.

Jan. 4, Shawn Watson was fired as Pitt’s offensive coordinator, replaced a little over a week later by former UMass head coach Mark Whipple.  The same day Watson was fired, Kevin Sherman was dismissed as wide receivers coach; Wednesday, Pitt confirmed that Chris Beatty has been hired as Sherman’s replacement.

Sherman spent the past three seasons at Maryland as receivers coach.  He also served as co-offensive coordinator and held the title of associate head coach while with the Terrapins.

“Chris is an absolutely outstanding addition to our staff,” Narduzzi said in a statement. “His expertise goes well beyond one position on the offensive side of the ball. That diverse experience is going to be an incredible asset for our players and entire coaching staff. He is also a highly driven recruiter with valuable contacts in so many key areas. We are looking forward to welcoming Chris, his wife Kris and his son Aaron to both Pitt and Pittsburgh.”

Prior to Maryland, Beatty spent time on Power Five coaching staffs at Virginia (2015), Wisconsin (2013-14), Illinois (2012), Vanderbilt (2011) and West Virginia (2008-10).  In addition to receivers, he’s also coaching quarterbacks and running backs.

Cadillac Williams returning to Auburn as RBs coach

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A legend is coming home to The Plains.  Reportedly.

According to  Scout.com and FootballScoop.com among others, Cadillac Williams is set to be named as the next running backs coach at Auburn.  Williams would replace Tim Horton, who moved into an off-field role earlier this month.

An official announcement on Williams’ hiring could come as early as today.

Williams played running back for the Tigers from 2001-04, finishing with 3,831 yards and 45 touchdowns on 741 attempts.  The carries were the most in AU history at the time of his departure, while the yards and touchdowns were second to Bo Jackson.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made Williams the fifth pick of the 2005 NFL Draft, and he went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.  H ended up playing seven years in the NFL before retiring following the end of the 2011 season.

The 36-year-old Williams’ coaching career began in 2016 as an offensive graduate assistant at Div. II West Georgia.  He went to IMG Academy in Florida as running backs coach before moving on to the same position the Birmingham franchise in the newly-created Alliance of American Football.

UPDATED 2:36 p.m. ET: Based on a tweet from Auburn football’s official Twitter account, Williams’ return to the Tigers is official.

Police investigating death of FCS player as a suicide

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Sadly, there’s more tragic news involving a college football player on which to report.

According to multiple media outlets, University of Montana Grizzly football player Andrew Harris was found dead at his residence in Missoula Tuesday.  The Missoulian writes that “police are investigating the scene as a suicide.”

Harris was just 22 years old.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Andrew’s family and friends at this difficult time,” university president Seth Bodnar said in a statement sent out to the Missoulian. “The entire UM family mourns his loss and our hearts go out to all who knew him.”

A redshirt junior, Harris was a defensive lineman who played in 11 games during his time with the Griz.  Our thoughts, prayers and condolences going out to all of those impacted by Harris’ passing.

And for those in the reading audience: The phone number for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.  Please, pick up the phone and call that number if you ever get to the point where you feel like you just can’t go on.  Or call somebody, anybody.

South Carolina’s third-leading rusher enters NCAA transfer database

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Another day, another trip into the infamous portal.

The latest to put his name onto the free-agent market is Ty’Son Williams, who a South Carolina official has confirmed is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.  If Williams follows through with the move — he can always remove his name from the database and return — it would be the running back’s second transfer as he came to USC in August of 2016 after beginning his collegiate playing career at North Carolina.

As Williams would be leaving as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school if he ultimately decides to leave.

Williams was third on the Gamecocks with 328 yards rushing in 2018, while his four rushing touchdowns tied for the team lead.  The year before, his first on the field at USC after sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he was second on the team in yards (471) and yards per carry (5.0).

A four-star member of UNC’s 2016 recruiting class, Williams was rated as the No. 21 running back in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.