Football now 3-0 with win over Shaw
By Jonathan Bym Managing Editor
September 26, 2013
Photo by Jonathan Bym
Coach Pete Shinnick holds up the Cape Fear Classic Trophy after his team defeated Shaw. The 18th-ranked Braves had over 500 yards of total offense in the matchup to stay undefeated on the year.
For the first time since 2009, the 18th-ranked UNCP football team opened up the season 3-0 as the Braves defeated Shaw by a 41-20 score in the inaugural Cape Fear Classic held at Legion Stadium in Wilmington on Sept. 21.
The win for the Black and Gold is the end of a tough three game stretch in the schedule versus CIAA opponents to open the year.
Senior quarterback Luke Charles tied a school record in the game with his five-touchdown performance to go along with his 361 yards in the air against Shaw, who entered the game allowing only 132 passing yards per contest.
“Shaw had played very well, and we knew what to expect. We knew that they were going to get after us a little bit,” Head Coach Pete Shinnick said of the Bear’s defense. “Luke Charles from the get-go has been extremely dialed in and focused on what we are trying to accomplish. I’m proud of how he handled it.”
Charles’s five touchdown passes accounted for all of UNCP’s touchdowns on the day as he carried over the connection with John Rich from last weekend as the duo scored three touchdowns, much like last week.
Rich was on the receiving end of two scores during the second quarter that helped the Braves pull away from the Bears early as his second score with 3:50 left until halftime made the score 24-7.
“He’s a big body, a big target inside the redzone and he has learned how to get open,” Charles said about his sophomore wide out. “He’s come up big the last two weeks for us.”
“Luke planted some good balls to me today,” Rich said. “We are playing good football as a team. We have nine different receivers and that’s why we are so dynamic.”
Following halftime, Shaw gained some momentum with a touchdown on its opening drive of the second half and then recovered a fumble on the following kickoff. The Braves defense was able to hold Shaw scoreless the rest of the game, allowing the Bears to only have 217 second half yards.
Charles connected with Rich on a seven-yard score on the Braves’ opening drive of the fourth which gave the Braves an 11-point lead.
To go along with the passing attack that has played strong all year, the Braves rushed for 100 yards for the first time all year as they out rushed Shaw 166-165.
UNCP’s rushing attack was led by three players who gained over 30 yards on the ground. Shaw entered the game averaging 227 yards rushing per game.
“It’s huge. I’m so proud of how our offensive line stepped up today,” Charles said of the improved rushing attack.
Rontonio Stanley led UNCP with 69 yards on four rushing attempts with his longest rush of 62 yards coming in the fourth quarter to set up a Michael Doss field goal to make the score 41-20.
Fumbles proved costly in the fourth as Shaw tried to mount a comeback. Following the Braves score to open the fourth, Shaw drove across midfield and fumbled on a handoff between quarterback Quinshon Odom and running back Marquise Grizzle giving UNCP the ball.
Two plays after the fumble, Charles aired out a 42-yard touchdown toss to Te’Vell Williams putting UNCP up 38-30, giving the senior signal caller five scores for the game.
UNCP also recovered a fumble on a mishandled snap at their own four-yard line as Shaw was knocking on the door to score a touchdown with nine minutes remaining.
Williams finished with a game-high 148 receiving yards on the day.
Three minutes into the game, Charles shook off an early interception and connected with freshman BJ Bunn on a 23-yard score.
On the defensive side of the ball, LJ Stroman led the team with 11 tackles and an interception on Shaw’s first drive of the game.
Shinnick still feels that there are still things the team needs to improve on, but the Braves are quickly learning and getting better, striving toward the team’s goal: chasing perfection.
“Other than a few plays on defense, I think our guys played really sound football,” he said.
The Braves return home on Sept. 28 for an in-state matchup versus Wingate. This will be the Black and Gold’s last home game before homecoming on Nov. 2 against Tusculum.