COLLEGE FOOTBALL ROUNDUP Recaps of Thursday’s season openers
No. 21 UCF 56, UConn 17
EAST HARTFORD, CONN.
McKenzie Milton threw for 346 yards and five touchdowns and No. 21 UCF routed UConn to extend the longest winning streak in the nation to 14 games. The reigning American Athletic Conference offensive player of the year completed 24 of 32 passes and ran for another 50 yards. Sophomore receiver Tre Nixon, a transfer from Mississippi, caught passes, scoring on plays of 34 and 11 yards. Backup quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. came on in the fourth quarter and broke a 70-yard touchdown run down the left sideline, making him the team’s leading rusher. UConn quarterback David Pindell was a bright spot for the Huskies, throwing for 266 yards and a touchdown and running for another 157 yards and a score. The game was marred by what appeared to be a serious injury to UCF defensive back Aaron Robinson on the opening kickoff. The sophomore transfer from Alabama appeared to collide head-first with another UCF player while making the tackle. He had to be cut from his shoulder and was taken off the field on a stretcher, giving the crowd the thumbs-up sign as he was wheeled to an ambulance. His condition was not immediately known.
Minnesota 48, New Mexico State 10
True freshman walk-on Zack Annexstad threw two touchdown passes to Tyler Johnson in his debut, and Minnesota opened the season by overwhelming New Mexico State. Antoine Winfield Jr. pitched in the first punt return for a score by the Gophers in five years, a 76-yard zigzag through an Aggies coverage unit that missed six tackles during the play. Winfield’s was the third of four straight touchdowns for Minnesota in the second quarter. Backup wide receiver Seth Green scored twice on direct snaps inside the 10-yard line, a clever twist from offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca that punctuated a 522-yard performance by the Gophers. Rodney Smith rushed 24 times for 153 yards, lightening the load on Annexstad in just the second time in major college football history that a true freshman walk-on quarterback started a season opener. According to Minnesota’s research, Baker Mayfield was the only other one for Texas Tech in 2013. The last true freshman quarterback to start a season for the Gophers was Tim Salem in 1980. Adam Weber, the program’s all-time leading passer, was a redshirt freshman when he took over the job in 2007. Annexstad completed 16 of 33 passes for 220 yards and no interceptions, before yielding to backup Tanner Morgan midway through the fourth quarter.
Utah 41, Weber State 10
SALT LAKE CITY
Zack Moss rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown and added a receiving score to power Utah to a win over Weber State. The Utes tallied 587 yards, and Moss claimed the fourth-longest run from scrimmage in school history when he ran untouched for an 86-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Utah’s Tyler Huntley overcame an early pick to throw for 253 yards and four touchdowns. The Wildcats stunned Utah with two quick scores, capitalizing on a muffed punt and an interception and led 10-0 in the first quarter. The Wildcats players danced on the sideline as Utah’s 52nd consecutive sellout crowd went quiet. But Weber State couldn’t generate anything after that and Utah scored 41 straight and yielded just 61 yards of total offense, the third lowest mark all-time. The Utes, who ran for 294 yards, have won 11 straight season openers and are now 21-1 in non-conference games since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.
Oklahoma State 58, Missouri State 17
Taylor Cornelius passed for 295 yards and five touchdowns in his first career start to help Oklahoma State defeat Missouri State. Cornelius, a fifth-year senior, seized his opportunity by completing 24 of 34 passes and rushing for 27 yards in the season opener for both teams. Jalen McCleskey caught two touchdown passes and ran for another score, Justice Hill ran for 122 yards and a touchdown and LD Brown added 115 yards and a score for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys gained 732 yards, the third-highest total in school history.
UAB 52, Savannah State 0
A.J. Erdely threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns and Spencer Brown rushed for 102 yards and a score as UAB posted its first shutout since 2008 with a victory over Savannah State in the season opener for both teams. The victory also tied the record for the second-largest win in program history. Brown got the Blazers on the board early when he rushed for 3 yards to take a 7-0 lead with 10:54 left in the first quarter. Chris Woolbright returned an interception 34 yards for a score, Erdely hit Andre Wilson with a 14-yard scoring strike and Kingston Davis busted in from the 1 as the Blazers took a 28-0 lead into the break. Collin Lisa hauled in most of Erdely’s passes, grabbing 10 for 93 yards and a touchdown. Andre Wilson caught three for 37 yards and a score.
The Blazer defense limited Savannah State to just 23 yards passing and 155 yards on the ground while racking up 548 total yards.