2021 Preseason All-Gridiron Team Announced

Carolina Gridiron is pleased to announce the 2021 preseason All-Gridiron team. Congratulations to each of the players chosen and best wishes for a successful 2021 season.

Check Out The Weekly Top 15 This Season

CarolinaGridiron.com releases Top 15 Rankings every week. Be sure to check back each Thursday duing the season to see where your favorite team is ranked.

College Football in North Carolina

Carolina Gridiron is expanding coverage of all college football teams in the state of North Carolina this season. See how your favorite college team is doing on the gridiron this year.

Carolina Gridiron Media Pick'Em

This season, Carolina Gridiron is launching a new media pick ‘em contest featuring some of the state’s top sports media. Each week, we will select a slate of ten games from across the state of North Carolina with a mix of high school and college games being thrown in.

Scrimmages and Jamborees

With your help, we are able to yearly put together the most comprehensive statewide high school football jamboree/scrimmage list in North Carolina. Thank you to all who have helped put together past lists and we are looking forward to next season.

Championship Central

Relive the unique experience that was the Spring 2021 North Carolina high school football state championships. Check back later this fall for more state championship news and updates.

Charlotte Defeats Gardner-Webb, 38-10

CHARLOTTE – Fresh off its first-ever win over a Power 5 program, no one would have blamed the Charlotte 49ers if they had looked past this week's matchup against Gardner-Webb, an FCS school an hour away from campus. The Niners were focused, though, and powered their way to a 38-10 win Saturday night at Richardson Stadium.

When Gardner-Webb won the opening toss and deferred, Charlotte sought to set the tone immediately and an opening kickoff return to midfield by Keith Pearson got the Niners into a great position. Six plays later, Chris Reynolds eluded three Gardner-Webb defenders on his way to a 37-yard score to open the game. After being forced to punt on their first drive of the game, Gardner-Webb was able to take possession on an interception of a tipped pass hauled in by Dameon Williams. The Runnin' Bulldogs turned it into three points on a 45-yard Austin McKay field goal.

Charlotte responded strongly on its next three drives, finding the end zone in all three. A five-yard rush by Shadrick Byrd was accompanied by Calvin Camp one-yarder and 11-yard pass and catch from Reynolds to Jairus Mack. Gardner-Webb was able to find some bright spots in the second quarter as well, with Narii Gaither hitting paydirt from fourteen yards out and Honus Wagner intercepting a pass to get the Runnin' Bulldogs into position to attempt a field goal which ultimately went wide.

Charlotte took their foot off the gas pedal in the second half, moving some of the second team onto the field to get game action. Fayetteville's ChaVon McEachern earned his first touchdown of the season, a thirteen-yard run early in the second half. Jonathan Cruz was five for five on PATs on the evening, giving him 46 straight successful PATs, tying a school record. Cruz added a field goal early in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.




Next Week

Gardner-Webb (0-2) hosts Lincoln (Pa.) in the Runnin' Bulldogs' first home game of the season at Spangler Stadium while Charlotte (2-0) is on the road at Georgia State.

Notable North Carolinians

ChaVon McEachern (Trinity Christian) – the redshirt freshman running back led the Niners with seventy-four yards and a score.

Chris Reynolds (Davie) – the senior quarterback rushed for a score to open the game and also threw a touchdown pass.

Marcus Robitaille (Marvin Ridge) – the redshirt sophomore defensive back had five tackles, including four solo and one tackle for loss.

William McRainey (West Brunswick) – the sophomore linebacker had seven tackles for Gardner-Webb.




Charlotte Upsets Duke, 31-28, in First Win Ever Over a Power Five Opponent

CHARLOTTE – It was the first time that the Charlotte 49ers had ever hosted a Power Five opponent in its brief nine-year history. The crowd was excited to host an in-state opponent on a Friday night leading into Labor Day weekend. The fans in attendance were given a good show as the two teams combined for over a thousand yards of offense and five lead changes in the second half alone. Paced by Chris Reynolds's 324 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown, Charlotte claimed its first-ever win over a P5 opponent, defeating Duke 31-28 to open the 2021 college football season.


The energy and momentum were on the Niners' side early in the game with Charlotte forcing the Blue Devils to punt on the first possession of the game and then hopping on the scoreboard five plays later with a 56-yard touchdown pass from Chris Reynolds to a streaking Grant DuBose. The early 7-0 lead had the 49ers faithful on their feet and saw the visiting Blue Devils scrambling to respond but unable to do so until a few drives later.

Charlotte led by a touchdown going into the second quarter and was on its way to a 32-yard Jonathan Cruz field goal to take a 10-0 lead over the visitors. Duke responded with force on its next drive, moving seventy-five yards in six plays, but it was the 43-yard scoring play that will stick out in the minds of the visiting fans. Gunnar Holmberg hit Jordan Waters on the left side and Waters bulled over a Charlotte defender and raced to the end zone. 

The Charlotte offense looked a little shaky on their subsequent drives in the first half. Duke did not show the hesitancy that they demonstrated in the first quarter, moving methodically down the field on their next drive, taking the lead with a five-yard touchdown run by Mataeo Durant. Durant finished the night with 255 yards and three scores.

Any signs that Charlotte might back down against Duke to start the second half were quickly dismissed as the Niners moved down the field, aided by a 40-yard Calvin Cook run to get Charlotte down to the one-yard-line. Two plays later, Chris Reynolds was able to hit paydirt on a quarterback sneak, helping Charlotte retake the lead. A promising Duke drive saw the Blue Devils poised to bring the lead back to the visitors, but a Tyler Murray forced fumble was recovered in the end zone by Charlotte, ending any hopes of a score.

The fourth quarter seemed like it would quickly become the Mataeo Durant show. The senior running back put the Blue Devils on his back, putting Duke back on top with a blistering 59-yard scoring run around the left side. Charlotte floundered around for a few possessions, but eventually came alive with quick passes to Taylor Thompson, Victor Cruz, and Grant DuBose got the Niners in scoring position and Charlotte retook the lead with the second Reynolds to DuBose touchdown of the night. Durant and the Blue Devils would not be denied, though, as the standout running back rushed for his second long touchdown of the quarter, a 53-yard scamper that gave Duke a 28-24 lead.

It was Charlotte's night, however, and fate had the Niners marching down towards their destiny. Victor Tucker's three big grabs got Charlotte in scoring position and Chris Reynolds found an open Shedrich Byrd for an 11-yard score to cause a scene unlike any other in the program's nine-year history.


Both teams host in-state FCS opponents next week as Charlotte (1-0) hosts Gardner-Webb while Duke (0-1) will face off against North Carolina A&T.

Notable North Carolinians

Chris Reynolds (Davie) – the senior quarterback passed for 324 yards and three scores while running for one as well.

Gunnar Holmberg (Heritage) – the graduate quarterback was 20 of 29 for 241 yards and a touchdown

Jordan Waters (Fairmont) – the redshirt sophomore's physical scoring catch and run opened the scoring for the Blue Devils in the second quarter



Wingate Defeats Shaw 30-7 in NC D2 Matchup

WINGATE ----For the ninth consecutive season and 19th time in 21 years under head coach Joe Reich, the Wingate University Bulldogs have started the season with a victory, jumping out to a 30-0 lead en route to a 30-7 victory over the visiting Shaw University Bears in NCAA Division II football action at Irwin Belk Stadium Thursday night. Wingate starts the season 1-0, while the Bears fall to 0-1.

THOUGHTS FROM HEAD COACH JOE REICH

"For a first game, it was fairly clean. We did some good things, executed some things really well. It was good to see. Obviously we made some mistakes and we've got plenty to work on, but for a first game, with the way it laid out, there were certain things we executed that we thought looked pretty good. I felt like we were hitting the throws we needed to make. Shaw has a veteran group on defense with a good front eight, that we figured would be tough to run against, but Nijere was able to get some yards, then we were able to roll some guys in during the first half. Defensively, our first group played really, really well, which was great to see. We have some things to clean up, but it was a solid first game. As a team, we probably play as many guys as anyone, regularly. We like to roll guys through, be fresh, keep everyone going, we feel it builds our program. Tonight we were able to go even deeper than usual, which was definitely a great thing for our guys."

NOTES

- Ninth straight season-opening win
- Wingate is 19-2 in season openers under Reich
- The 'Dogs move to 39-13 overall since the start of the 2016 season
- Wingate is 71-35 at Irwin Belk Stadium since 2001
- The Bulldogs move to 12-2 under the lights at Irwin Belk
- 30th straight victory for Wingate when scoring at least 30 points
- 18th time scoring at least 30 points since the start of the 2018 season
- The Bulldogs have won 21 of their last 24 regular season home games
- Career high receiving nights for RJ Mobley and Ryder Martin
- 14th career game with at least 200 passing yards for Shaw Crocker
- 10th career game with at least 90 rushing yards for Nijere Peoples

KEY STATS

- Wingate out-gained Shaw 393-188 on the night
- The 'Dogs had 25 of the 38 first downs
- Wingate had 224 passing yards and 169 rushing yards
- Shaw had 114 rushing yards and just 74 passing yards
- The 'Dogs had the lone turnover of the night
- Wingate was four-for-10 on third down; Shaw went two-for-14
- The Bulldogs scored on all five red zone trips with four touchdowns
- The Bears never entered the red zone
- The 'Dogs held the ball for 33:41 compared to Shaw's 26:19
- Wingate had the only three sacks of the night, adding eight QB hurries and six pass break-ups

KEY BULLDOGS

- Crocker completed 19-of-26 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns
- Mobley had five catches for 68 yards and a score
- Desor added five catches for 60 yards and a TD
- Martin had 64 receiving yards on four receptions
- Peoples went for 92 yards on 15 carries
- Kalen Clark added 29 rushing yards and a touchdown
- Jaquan Edwards led the 'Dogs with seven tackles, including a sack, adding a pass break-up and QB hurry
- Matthew Ellis-White contributed six tackles and a pass break-up
- Justin Armwood and Dontorian Best each had five tackles with a tackle for loss apiece
- Sirod Cook added four tackles and a sack
- Daquan Mosley contributed three tackles and a pair of pass break-ups
- McLean Robertson made all three PATs and converted a 20-yard field goal
- Ethan Evans averaged 39.1 yards per punt and had three touchbacks on six kickoffs

FIRST QUARTER

- The Bulldogs held the Bears to just nine yards on their six-play opening drive, forcing a punt
- Wingate went 66 yards on 10 plays in the opening drive of the season
- Crocker hit Martin for 17 yards, while a Myles Dillon 11-yard run got it to the Shaw 14
- Clark scored from three yards out to get the Bulldogs on the board
- Wingate held Shaw to 11 yards on its next possession, forcing another punt
- The 'Dogs went 54 yards in eight plays to score again
- Crocker hit Desor for 12 yards to get it close to midfield
- Crocker found Mobley for 21 yards on second and 15 to get it to the Shaw 14
- Crocker connected with Desor for a 16-yard touchdown to make it 14-0

SECOND QUARTER

- A 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive midway through the second quarter gave WU a 21-point lead
- Peoples started it with runs of eight and seven yards
- Crocker found Mobley for 21 yards on third and eight to get it inside the 10
- Mobley scored on a six-yard run the next play to make it 21-0

THIRD QUARTER

- A Robertson field goal accounted for all of the third quarter points
- Crocker hit Mobley for 14 yards on the drive to get it to the Shaw 21
- Back-to-back Clark runs got it to the five
- The 'Dogs settled for a 20-yard Robertson field goal to make it 24-0

FOURTH QUARTER

- Wingate scored in the first minute of the fourth quarter to cap an 81-yard drive
- A 26-yard completion to Martin got it into Shaw territory
- Crocker hit Dillon and Martin to get it inside the 10
- Crocker connected with Mobley from five yards out to make it 30-0
- The Bears got on the board on a 59-yard touchdown run from Christian Peters

UP NEXT

- Wingate is back home next Saturday, hosting Fayetteville State at 6 p.m.
- The 'Dogs open SAC play at Carson-Newman Sept. 18
- WU returns home the next two weekends to host Catawba and Tusculum






Story courtesy of Wingate Athletics

App State Downs ECU in Duke's Mayo Classic

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Country music star and App State alum Luke Combs will perform Saturday at The Rock, with fans filling Kidd Brewer Stadium for his highly anticipated concert.  

Consider his song-leading cameo in a triumphant App State locker room at Bank of America Stadium on Thursday night a memorable warmup.

"I'm pretty parched right now," App State head coach Shawn Clark said to open his postgame press conference. "Had a chance to sing with Luke Combs in the locker room, so I enjoyed that."

Playing at the home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers, the Mountaineers had mayo-covered mojo on their side as they went on a roll to claim a big lead and post a 33-19 victory against East Carolina of the American Athletic Conference. A crowd of 36,752 was on hand as App State built a 33-9 lead in the Duke's Mayo Classic.

Chase Brice was nearly flawless through three quarters, throwing for 259 yards with touchdowns to Thomas Hennigan (114 receiving yards) and Corey Sutton, who each increased their career totals to 18 TD catches apiece. A new-look offensive line paved the way for two App State backs to surpass 100 rushing yards, as Nate Noel had 126 on 15 carries and Camerun Peoples scored twice on a 14-carry, 100-yard night.

Defensively, Ryan Huff came up with a key interception and the Mountaineers recorded four sacks, including 1.5 from Brendan Harrington. Nick Hampton and Tim Frizzell had back-to-back sacks leading up to Huff's pick, Tommy Dawkins Jr. teamed with Harrington on one sack and D'Marco Jackson was App State's leading tackler with eight stops.

"I'm very proud of our team tonight," Clark said. "We had a goal of being 1-0, and we've had a lot of things going on throughout the year, and we made our mind up early that we were going to go out early and play the App State brand of football and not let anybody dictate to us how we're going to run our offense, defense or special teams. We played complementary football."

App State (1-0) took the lead for good, moving ahead 7-6, as Brice connected on a deep throw to Hennigan for a 34-yard touchdown with 6:24 remaining in the first quarter. In the final minute of the period, the Mountaineers extended their lead thanks to a 21-yard touchdown run from Peoples, and Chandler Staton added a pair of field goals (21 yards, 43 yards) in the second quarter to produce a 20-6 halftime lead.

The end of the half wasn't without drama, though, as back-to-back sacks from Hampton and Frizzell forced a Hail Mary attempt. With three App State receivers back deep, Hennigan tipped the ball up in the middle of a crowd that had gathered near the goal line. Huff wrapped two hands around the ball before there was a pileup, and the officials ruled the play a touchdown after an ECU receiver emerged with the ball, but a review overturned the on-field call and awarded Huff with an interception.

ECU opened the third quarter with a 38-yard field goal, but App State responded immediately, starting with Brice's 68-yard completion to Hennigan on first down. On the next snap, Brice threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Sutton, who missed all of last season while rehabbing a 2019 injury. He scored for the first time since Nov. 23, 2019.

App State had an opportunity to stretch the lead to an even bigger margin, as Anderson Castle recovered a fumbled kickoff following big hits from Logan Doublin and Tyler Bird. The Mountaineers' only turnover of the night spoiled that opportunity, and ECU (0-1) managed to add a field goal and a touchdown in the closing minutes.








Story courtesy App State Strategic Communications