PEMBROKE — Three members of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke football team sat next to their coach and faced the media following Saturday’s loss to North Alabama.
Two of the three were seniors and the lone junior was L.J. Stroman. The former Richmond Senior standout had a relatively quiet game, at least for his standards.
Stroman recorded four tackles against the run-heavy Lions. He also had an electric 48-yard punt return that sat up a Braves’ touchdown, which gave them a brief 13-10 lead in the opening moments of the third quarter.
After the game, UNCP coach Pete Shinnick praised his seniors, especially Luke Charles and Fred Williams, who were sitting to his right. Shinnick talked about how proud he was of their leadership and what it meant to the success of the program.
As Shinnick continued he talking, he noticed Stroman at the end of the table.
“L.J. is the future,” Shinnick said. “The baton will be passed to him.”
Stroman looked at his teammates after his coach’s comment and understands he will have big shoes to fill.
“It will be hard to step in and be as big of a leader as Luke and Fred have been,” he said. “Next year we will take it as far as we can.”
Another former Richmond standout, John Rich, will be counted on next season by the Braves as well. Rich finished his redshirt sophomore year fourth on the team with 37 catches and was second with nine touchdown receptions. In the loss to UNA, Rich grabbed two passes for 13 yards.
Furman ousts SC State
ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) — Jarius Hollman had a 90-yard TD punt return and another 34-yard TD interception return to lead Furman to a 30-20 FCS first round playoff win over South Carolina State on Saturday.
Furman (8-5, 6-2 Southern Conference) and South Carolina State (9-4, 7-1 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) squared-off in the first round of the twenty-four team FCS playoff field and Hollman’s TDs gave the Paladins all the padding needed for the win.
Former Richmond Senior player Andrew Carter recorded a tackle in the loss for the Bulldogs. The redshirt junior finished the season with 47 tackles, 11 sacks, 15 1/2 tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, a safety and a blocked kick.
Tedarius Wiley, also a former Raider, saw action in seven games and was 14 for 28 for 234 yards and a touchdown for S.C. State. The redshirt sophomore rushed 14 times for 51 yards.
Jackson gets an interception in loss
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Carey Spear kicked a 38-yard field goal with 39 seconds left, and Vanderbilt rallied to beat Wake Forest 23-21 Saturday as the Commodores finished with their second straight 8-4 season.
The Commodores now have posted consecutive eight-win seasons for the first time since 1927 and 1928 and can only hope their sluggish performance didn’t hurt their chances for a bowl game outside of Tennessee. They turned it over twice in the second half, and Spear kicked two of his three field goals in the fourth quarter to give them their ninth straight win in November.
Wake Forest (4-8) lost its fifth straight.
Former Richmond Senior standout Justin Jackson finished his career with the Demon Deacons with four tackles, a sack, an interception and a quarterback hurry against the Commodores. Jackson finished with 56 tackles, two sacks, four quarterback hurries, two pass breakups, an interception and a fumble recovery this season.
Duke downs UNC to reach ACC title game
CHAPEL HILL (AP) — Ross Martin kicked a 27-yard field goal with 2:22 left and No. 24 Duke beat North Carolina 27-25 on Saturday, completing the Blue Devils’ improbable run to reach the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
Anthony Boone threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns to Jamison Crowder as the Blue Devils (10-2, 6-2 ACC) clinched the Coastal Division championship with their eighth straight victory. DeVon Edwards’ interception with 13 seconds left clinched the long-suffering program’s first 10-win season.
Duke will face No. 1 Florida State in Charlotte, where the heavy underdog Blue Devils will go for their first ACC crown since 1989.
Duke led 24-15 in the third quarter but needed to rally to beat the rival Tar Heels (6-6, 4-4).
Wolfpack ends season winless in ACC
RALEIGH (AP) — C.J. Brown ran for three touchdowns and threw for two more, and Maryland beat North Carolina State 41-21 on Saturday in its final Atlantic Coast Conference game.
Brown rushed for a season-high 138 yards with touchdowns of 49, 2 and 3 yards and was 13 of 25 for 259 yards passing with TDs of 53 yards to Nigel King and 27 to Albert Reid.
The Wolfpack (3-9, 0-8) lost their eighth straight and haven’t dropped this many in a row in the same year since 1959.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.