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College football: First TD toss after beating cancer for Plant alum

Syracuse didn’t win on Saturday, but Rex Culpepper does mark a major milestone after being declared cancer free two years ago.
Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper, who graduated from Plant High, threw for his first touchdown Saturday since being declared cancer free in 2018.
Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper, who graduated from Plant High, threw for his first touchdown Saturday since being declared cancer free in 2018. [ KEITH SRAKOCIC | AP ]
Published Sep. 20, 2020

A look at notable moments around college football on Saturday.

Touchdown toss with extra meaning

No, Syracuse did not beat No. 25 Pitt, instead falling 21-10 on the road. But former Plant High quarterback Rex Culpepper may have done enough to make a case for starting, and he notched a career milestone. Culpepper had the Orange’s lone touchdown, a 69-yard second-quarter strike to a streaking Taj Harris, and finished 4-of-9 for 88 yards. The son of former Tampa Bay Bucs defensive tackle Brad Culpepper, the redshirt senior in 2018 was treated for testicular cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes, and he traveled between Tampa and Syracuse while enduring 100 total hours of chemotherapy. Saturday’s score was his first touchdown toss since beating cancer. Former Plant coach Robert Weiner, now at Toledo, tweeted video of Culpepper ringing the bell to celebrate being cancer free.

Scouting report

USF’s next opponent, Florida Atlantic, had its game postponed this weekend, so we’ll turn our eyes to the Bulls' Oct. 3 foe. USF fans, however, may want to avert their eyes. No. 13 Cincinnati made quick work of Austin Peay, 55-20, in its season opener. “We showed we’re not a team to mess around with,” Gerrid Doaks said.

Cincinnati running back Gerrid Doaks, left, celebrates one of his four touchdowns with teammate Cam Jones against Austin Peay.
Cincinnati running back Gerrid Doaks, left, celebrates one of his four touchdowns with teammate Cam Jones against Austin Peay. [ JAY LAPRETE | AP ]

Speaking of Doaks: The senior running back contributed four catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, to go along with a career-high three rushing scores. He had 84 all-purpose yards on 14 touches. Doaks has taken on a larger role in the offense with the departure of Michael Warren II, who finished his career with 2,918 yards rushing.

Local sighting: Jerome Ford, a four-star running back in the 2018 class out of Armwood High, transferred to the Bearcats from Alabama. The redshirt freshman, who played only a handful of games for the Tide, had a 2-yard scoring run Saturday. And, yes, he did have an offer from USF two years ago, though obviously from a different coaching staff. Ford was an all-everything back for an Armwood team that reached the state final his senior year. He had 800 yards receiving that year and returned two kicks for scores.

Stat of the day

Clemson is not USF. The No. 1 Tigers improved to 35-0 against non-Division-I teams, beating the Citadel 49-0. Clemson shut down the Citadel’s triple-option, holding the Bulldogs to 86 yards on the ground after they rushed for 200 yards last week in the opener at Raymond James Stadium. The Tigers (2-0) posted their first shutout since defeating Ohio State 31-0 in the College Football Playoff semifinals in 2016.

He said it

Navy kicker Bijan Nichols (43) is congratulated after making the game-winning field goal against Tulane as time expires in New Orleans.
Navy kicker Bijan Nichols (43) is congratulated after making the game-winning field goal against Tulane as time expires in New Orleans. [ STAFF PHOTO BY SCOTT THRELKELD | AP ]

“I don’t have much to say other than, ‘Wow.’ ... These guys are going to protect us, serve our country. These are the type of young men that you have, that will not quit.”

Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo after the Midshipmen rallied from a 24-point deficit to beat Tulane 27-24 for the largest comeback in school history. Bijan Nichols kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired for Navy (1-1).

Rage on

Louisiana Lafayette running back Elijah Mitchell (15) rushes for a touchdown against Georgia State in Atlanta.
Louisiana Lafayette running back Elijah Mitchell (15) rushes for a touchdown against Georgia State in Atlanta. [ JOHN AMIS | AP ]

Louisiana Lafayette may not be long for the rankings, especially once the Big Ten starts up, but the Ragin' Cajuns still are the most entertaining team of the season so far. Elijah Mitchell rushed for 164 yards, including the winning touchdown in overtime, and No. 19 Louisiana Lafayette topped Georgia State 34-31. The Ragin' Cajuns (2-0) were ranked for the first time since 1943 following last week’s 20-point win at Iowa State; they were a 17-point favorite Saturday. Mitchell burst free down the left side for two long gains that mattered; a 59-yard touchdown run that tied it at 21 late in the third, and a 53-yard run early in the fourth that set up Trey Ragas' 2-yard touchdown run. In overtime, Mitchell ran 12 yards around the right side and was untouched as he crossed the goal line for the final score.

Be careful what you ask for

Nebraska was among the most vocal of the Big Ten schools about bringing back a 2020 season. The Cornhuskers may change their mind after seeing their opening foe. The conference released an eight-games-in-eight-weeks schedule that will start the weekend of Oct. 24. Just three days ago, the conference reversed course and decided to play a fall football season after postponing Aug. 11 because of concerns about COVID-19. Week 1 features Nebraska at Ohio State, while Michigan will play at Minnesota in the Little Brown Jug rivalry. In Week 2, Ohio State will play at Penn State on Halloween. The regular season concludes as usual with the Buckeyes and Wolverines facing off. Michigan and Ohio State have played 103 times, but never later than November. The conference championship game will be played Dec. 19 in Indianapolis.

By the numbers

3 Times since 1999 that two Division I-A teams will meet twice in the regular season. Troy (1-0) beat Middle Tennessee State (0-2), 47-14, and they’ll play again Nov. 21.

Oklahoma State's Chuba Hubbard (30) is tackled by Tulsa defenders Cristian Williams (3) and Kenfarin Ray (1) in the second half.
Oklahoma State's Chuba Hubbard (30) is tackled by Tulsa defenders Cristian Williams (3) and Kenfarin Ray (1) in the second half. [ BRODY SCHMIDT | AP ]

11 Straight 100-yard rushing games for reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Chuba Hubbard until Saturday. Hubbard wound up with 93 yards on 27 carries and a late touchdown that helped lift No. 11 Oklahoma State 16-7 over Tulsa.

1976 The last time Marshall beat a ranked team at home. The Thundering Herd (2-0) topped No. 23 Appalachian State (1-1), 17-7, and it also was their first victory over a top-25 team period since winning at No. 6 Kansas State in 2003.

Compiled using information from Times news services.