The Morning Call (Sunday)
UK honors coach who recently died
The University of Kentucky football team would have been forgiven for a dispirited effort following the death of offensive line coach John Schlarman. But its players took the field with heavy hearts Saturday and overcame Vanderbilt for a 38-35 victory.
The Wildcats lined up without a left guard and took a delay of game penalty on the first play from scrimmage to honor their coach, who died this week after a long battle with cancer. Vanderbilt declined the penalty. Kentucky senior left tackle Landon Young came in on the next play, wearing Schlarman’s No. 65 jersey. Schlarman was a four-year starter at Kentucky from 1994 to 1997. Kentucky then marched 75 yards in a hurry to take a 7-0 lead.
The Wildcats snapped a two-game losing streak and picked up their first win since they won at Tennessee on Oct. 17. They were off last weekend following losses at Missouri and to Georgia at home. Chris Rodriguez rushed for a career-high 149 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries, an average of 11.5 yards per rush. Kentucky as a team finished averaging 9.7 yards per carry against the Commodores, and amassed 302 overall on the ground.
Tar Heels win shootout: There’s no deficit that Sam Howell and his North Carolina teammates feel they can’t overcome. The sophomore threw for program records of 550 yards and six touchdowns and scored the go-ahead rushing TD with 4:11 left to help North Carolina rally past Wake Forest 59-53 on Saturday, capping a comeback from 21 down in the third quarter. Howell’s 20-yard keeper helped the Tar Heels (6-2, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) match their biggest comeback in program history. It was part of a run of 35 unanswered points after falling behind 45-24, with Howell and the Tar Heels’ offense rolling nearly all day at a record-setting pace.
What you talking about, Willis: Malik Willis threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more scores, leading No. 22 Liberty over Western Carolina 58-14 on Saturday. Liberty (8-0) won its 10th straight game and remained second behind Notre Dame for the nation’s longest active winning streak. Playing their first game of the season, the Catamounts (0-1) trailed 14-7 early in the second quarter. Liberty then scored four straight touchdowns in the next 14 minutes. Willis completed 14 of 19 passes with touchdown strikes of 44, 40 and 83 yards. He scored on runs of 11 and 43 yards and rushed for 97 yards on eight carries. Willis has accounted for 16 touchdowns in the past three games, including 12 in the air. He threw for just three TDs in the Flames’ first five games.
Louisiana-Lafayette locks up division:
Levi Lewis passed for 252 yards and three touchdowns, Louisiana-Lafayette gained 254 yards on the ground and the No. 25 Ragin’ Cajuns clinched a third straight Sun Belt Conference West Division title with a 38-10 victory over South Alabama on Saturday. Lewis tossed TD passes of 5 yards to Jalen Williams and 3 yards to Errol Rogers. He also hit running back Trey Ragas for a 25-yard score on a fourth-down conversion, with Ragas narrowly staying inside the left sideline to put the game away in the fourth quarter. Chris Smith and Elijah Mitchell each had touchdowns rushing for Louisiana-Lafayette (7-1, 5-1 Sun Belt).
Penn State still winless: Luke McCaffrey had a hand in two touchdowns in his first start, Nebraska’s defense made two huge late defensive stops and the Cornhuskers held on to beat Penn State 30-23 for their first win Saturday. McCaffrey took over for Adrian Martinez, who had started all of his 23 previous games at Nebraska (1-2, 1-2 Big Ten) but turned in flat performances in the Cornhuskers’ first two games. McCaffrey looked good in the first half, but the Huskers generated only three points in the second and Penn State came back from a 21-point deficit to make it close. “That decision is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said. “I think so much of Adrian Martinez as a person. He’s been through a lot with us. He certainly practiced well enough to play so it was a tough decision. I thought considering it was (Luke’s) first start he did a lot of good things and there’s a lot there to build on.” A Top 10 team to start the season, the Lions (0-4, 0-4) are off to their worst start since Joe Paterno’s 2001 team opened with four straight losses.
Heisman going remote: The Heisman Trophy will be presented Jan. 5, but without the usual ceremony held in New York City, and the finalists will be revealed on Christmas Eve. The reworked Heisman schedule was revealed Saturday on ESPN. The Tuesday night presentation ceremony on ESPN will originate from the network's studios in Bristol, Connecticut. The finalists will appear via satellite.