Conference Notes: C-USA

UPCOMING GAMES (ALL TIMES CT)

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 10
UTEP at Boise State (FS1) 8:30 pm

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
WKU at Army (CBSSN) 10:30 am
Middle Tennessee at Virginia Tech (ACC Net Extra)1 pm
Ga. Southern at Florida Atlantic (Stadium) 2:30 pm
UAB at Georgia (ESPN2) 2:30 pm
Gardner-Webb at Charlotte (ESPN3) 5 pm
Lamar at UTSA (ESPN3) 5 pm
N.C. Central at Marshall (ESPN+) 5:30 pm
Houston at Rice (CBSSN) 5:30 pm
Texas State at FIU (ESPN+) 6 pm
SE Louisiana at LA Tech (ESPN3) 6 pm
North Texas at SMU (ESPN+) 6 pm
Hampton at Old Dominion (ESPN3) 6 pm
Grambling State at Southern Miss (ESPN3) 6 pm

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (WEEK 1)
OFFENSE
QB CHRIS REYNOLDS, CHARLOTTE
Redshirt Senior, Mocksville, North Carolina Reynolds led the 49ers’ dramatic first-ever win over a power conference opponent, 31-28, vs. Duke. The two-time team captain threw for 324 yards and three TDs and ran for a fourth in the victory. Reynolds opened the scoring with a 56-yard touchdown pass on the 49ers’ initial drive. On Charlotte’s final two drives of the seesaw battle, Reynolds was 9-of-10 for 161 yards and threw for two TDs in the final three minutes to secure the historic win. The game-winner came on an 11-yard TD pass to Shadrick Byrd with 33 seconds remaining. Reynolds notched his school-record fourth career 300-yard passing game (324 yards) and figured in all four of the 49ers TDs by passing for three and running for a fourth. He also moved to within 39 yards of the 49ers all-time record with 5,366 career passing yards.

DEFENSE
LB ELI NEAL, MARSHALL
Sophomore, Memphis, Tennessee
Neal recorded 11 tackles and a game-high three sacks in the Thundering Herd’s 49-7 romp at Navy on Saturday. He also had a hand in a big special teams play as he scooped up T.J. Johnson’s blocked field goal and got three more yards on the return. The Memphis native entered Saturday with just 1.5 sacks in his first 23 games. Neal’s effort led a Thundering Herd defense that finished with nine sacks, the second most in a single game in program history (Record: 12, vs. Ohio, 1986).

SPECIAL TEAMS
K HUNTER DUPLESSIS, UTSA
Senior, San Antonio, Texas
Duplessis opened the 2021 season by making all three of his field goal attempts and going 4-for-4 on extra points in UTSA’s 37-30 road win over Illinois on Saturday night. The senior all-conference performer drilled a pair of field goals in the second quarter to help hand the Roadrunners a 20-14 halftime advantage, and his third make of the night late in the third stanza gave the visitors a 23-17 lead. Duplessis, a 2020 Lou Groza Award semifinalist who is on the watch list this year, has now made 29 of 34 field goals (85%) for his career.

QUICK HITTERS

A LOOK AT WEEK TWO
As they were in Week One, all 14 Conference USA teams are in action heading into Week Two. C-USA teams went 9-5 in Week 1, including a pair of wins over Power-5 opponents (Charlotte over Duke and UTSA over Illinois on the road).

UTEP (2-0) heads out on the road to take on Boise State (0-1), who dropped a tough non-conference game at UCF last week. The Miners are seeking their first 3-0 start since 2005 when they take on the Broncos on FS1 at 8:30 p.m. CT.

WKU (1-0) is also on the road, taking on Army (1-0) at 10:30 a.m. CT on CBS Sports Network, looking to build off a 59-21 season-opening win over UT Martin.

Middle Tennessee (1-0) travels to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech (1-0) at 1 p.m. CT on ACC Network Extra following the Blue Raiders’ 50-15 win at home over Monmouth.

Virginia Tech upset No. 10 North Carolina at home in Week 1.

UAB (1-0) travels to Georgia (1-0) to take on a Bulldogs team who opened the season with a 10-3 win over No. 3 Clemson in Charlotte. The Blazers shut out Jacksonville State in Week 1, and face a much stiffer test in Athens at 2:30 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

Florida Atlantic (0-1) looks to get its first win of 2021 when the Owls host Georgia Southern (1-0) in Boca Raton at 2:30 p.m. CT live on Stadium. The Owls fell 35-14 on the road at No. 13 Florida, while Georgia Southern opened the year by edging Gardner-Webb 30-25.

Charlotte (1-0) looks to build on its first-ever win over a Power-5 opponent in program history when it hosts FCS foe Gardner-Webb (1-0) at 5 p.m. CT on ESPN3.

UTSA (1-0), like Charlotte, opened the 2021 season with a statement win. The Roadrunners host their home opener on Saturday afternoon as they welcome an in-state FCS opponent in Lamar (1-0), on ESPN3 at 5 p.m. CT.

Marshall (1-0) is set for its home opener at 5:30 p.m. CT on ESPN+ against N.C. Central (1-0), The Herd opened the 2021 season with a 49-7 drubbing of Navy on the road in Annapolis.

Rice (0-1) equated itself well in Fayetteville against Arkansas last week, holding a 10-point lead in the second half before ultimately falling to the Razorbacks 38-17. The Owls host city rival Houston (0-1) on Saturday evening on CBS Sports Network at 5:30 p.m. CT.

FIU (1-0) defeated Long Island 48-10 in its opener last week and welcome Sun Belt foe Texas State (0-1), who fell 29-20 to Baylor last week, to Miami at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN+.

Louisiana Tech (0-1) looks to bounce back from a gut-wrenching defeat at Mississippi State, falling 35-34 after leading 34-14 in the fourth quarter in Starkville. The Bulldogs host in-state foe Southeast Louisiana (1-0) on ESPN3 at 6 p.m. CT.

North Texas (1-0) began its 2021 season with a comfortable 44-14 win over Northwestern State and travels to Dallas to take on rival SMU (1-0) on ESPN+ at 6 p.m. CT.

Old Dominion (0-1) played its first game in two years last week, falling 42-10 at Wake Forest. The Monarchs open the home slate at 6 p.m. CT by hosting Hampton (1-0) on ESPN3.

Southern Miss (0-1) fell in head coach Will Hall’s debut on the road at South Alabama and look to bounce back this week when the Golden Eagles host Grambling State (1-0) at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN3.

CHARLOTTE PICKS UP FIRST P5 WIN
The Charlotte 49ers earned their first-ever win over a Power 5 opponent, by defeating Duke 31-28 in a thrilling come-from-behind victory in front of their home crowd Friday night. QB Chris Reynolds led the 49ers on a 75-yard game-winning touchdown drive in the final two minutes. Reynolds completed 19-30 passes for 324 yards and had four total touchdowns with no interceptions. WR Victor Tucker caught eight passes for 133 yards, while WR Grant DuBose hauled in four for 118 yards and a pair of scores.

ZAPPE’S LUCKY NO. 7, WKU’S 8
WKU QB Bailey Zappe had quite the debut for the Hilltoppers in their 59-point barrage in last week’s win over UT Martin. Zappe, a transfer from Houston Baptist, completed 28-35 passes for 424 yards with seven passing touchdowns and one interception. His seven scoring tosses tie for third-most in conference history in a single game.

9 Case Keenum, Houston vs. Rice (10-27-11)
8 Brandon Doughty, WKU at Marshall (11-28-14)
7 Bailey Zappe, WKU vs. UT Martin (9-2-21)
7 Mason Fine, North Texas vs. UTEP (11-2-19)
7 Rakeem Cato, Marshall vs. WKU (11-29-14)

Backup QB Carson Baker relieved Zappe in the fourth quarter and threw a 52-yard touchdown pass, on his first attempt as a Hilltopper. Quinn joined the program after beginning his collegiate career at San Diego State. The eighth touchdown pass of the night was one shy of the Conference USA record for most touchdown passes thrown by a team in a single game.

9 Houston vs. Rice (10-27-11)
8 WKU vs. UT Martin (9-2-21)
8 WKU at Marshall (11-28-14)

(D’VONTE) PRICE IS RIGHT
FIU RB D’Vonte Price had a monster night in his 2021 debut for the Panthers, as FIU rolled in its opener 48- 10 over Long Island. Price carried five times for 165
yards and three touchdowns, averaging 33.0 yards per carry. His night was over pretty early as FIU raced to a 28-0 lead in the first half, but there was no denying his impact, scoring from 8, 68 and 28 yards, respectively.

TOUCHDOWN TORREY LEADS UNT
North Texas RB DeAndre Torrey had a huge night in his 2021 debut for the Mean Green, as UNT was victorious in its opener 44-14 over Northwestern State Saturday night. Torrey carried 25 times for 244 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 9.8 yards per carry. His big game propelled a ground attack that totaled 345 yards on the night.

ZAKHARI SHOWS OUT
UTSA WR Zakhari Franklin had a big game on a big stage, helping lead the Roadrunners to a 37-30 win on the road over Big Ten foe Illinois last week. Franklin caught 10 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown in UTSA’s second win over a Power-5 opponent in program history.

HARRIS, MCCORMICK, BRADY SHINE
UTSA QB Frank Harris completed 20-32 passes for 280 yards with a touchdown pass, and also ran for 32 yards and another score in UTSA’s win at Illinois last week. RB Sincere McCormick ran for 117 yards, while fellow RB Brenden Brady carried 11 times for 67 yards and two scores, the last of which was a 33-yard scoring scamper with 4:57 to go in the fourth quarter.

DO IT FOUR TIMES, ALI
Marshall RB Rasheen Ali made his presence felt in the Herd’s 49-7 demolishing of AAC foe Navy on the road in Annapolis last week. Ali found the end zone on four occasions, carrying 14 times for 59 yards in the season-opening victory for Marshall.

BLAZERS SMOTHER JSU
The UAB Blazers opened the 2021 season by completely shutting down (and shutting out) Jacksonville State, 31-0 in front of a national audience on ESPN. It marked UAB’s first shutout since a 19-0 win at UTEP on 10-27-18.

ALL THE YARDS
WKU QB Bailey Zappe and UAB QB Tyler Johnston III had big statistical nights, throwing for 424 and 319 yards, respectively in their season debuts this past week.

ALL THE (RECEIVING) YARDS
There were eight C-USA receivers who surpassed the 100-yard mark in Week 1.
Zakhari Franklin, UTSA 10 rec., 155 yds, 1 TD
Bryce Singleton, FIU 6 rec., 149 yds, 1 TD
Victor Tucker, Charlotte 8 rec., 133 yds
Trea Shropshire, UAB 5 rec., 128 yds, 1 TD
Grant DuBose, Charlotte 4 rec., 118 yds, 2 TDs
Roderic Burns, North Texas 6 rec., 114 yds, 1 TD
Jerreth Sterns, WKU 7 rec., 107 yds, 2 TDs
Talik Keaton, Marshall 5 rec., 100 yds

This comes after a huge performance by Week Zero Offensive Player of the Week, WR Jacob Cowing of UTEP, who hauled in five catches for 158 yards and a score.

ALL THE (RUSHING) YARDS
There were five C-USA running backs who surpassed the 100-yard mark in Week 1, all of which came in wins and two of which came from UTEP in their win over Bethune-Cookman.
DeAndre Torrey, North Texas 25 att., 244 yds, 3 TDs
D’Vonte Price, FIU 5 att., 165 yds, 3 TDs
Ronald Awatt, UTEP 19 att., 126 yds, 1 TD
Willie Eldridge, UTEP 14 att., 118 yds
Sincere McCormick, UTSA 31 att., 117 yds