Sun Belt football earns 6 non-conference wins in week 1 action

Published 1:02 pm Tuesday, September 7, 2021

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After leading the FBS in non-conference victories in 2020, the Sun Belt Conference picked up six wins against non-conference foes in Week 1 action.

In front of the second-largest crowd in Brooks Stadium history—16,236 fans—No. 22/24 Coastal Carolina tallied 610 yards of total offense in a dominant 52-14 season-opening victory over The Citadel on Thursday evening.

Sun Belt Preseason Offensive Player of the Year redshirt sophomore quarterback Grayson McCall posted a 16-for-19 performance for 262 yards and a touchdown through the air, as the Chanticleers scored on 8-of-10 offensive possessions.

Behind a pair of 100-yard rushers—sophomore running back Nate Noel (126 yards) and junior running back Camerun Peoples (100 yards, 2 touchdowns)—App State bested East Carolina, 33-19, in the Duke’s Mayo Classic on Thursday night.

In head coach Terry Bowden’s debut, ULM jumped out to a 7-0 advantage over Kentucky, its first lead since the 2019 campaign, before succumbing 45-10 to the Wildcats.

Georgia State dropped its season opener to Army, 43-10. Senior running back Destin Coates, who scored the lone touchdown for the Panthers, rushed for 48 yards to reach the 1,500-yard plateau for his career. Coates is now tied with Travis Evans for second place in Georgia State history, trailing only Tra Barnett (2,156 yards).

No. 23/23 Louisiana fell to No. 21/19 Texas, 38-18, in its first-ever Top 25 clash before an announced crowd of 91,113 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Senior quarterback Levi Lewis completed 28-of-40 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort.

Georgia Southern, Troy and Arkansas State each defended its home field against an FCS opponent on Saturday. The Eagles outlasted Gardner-Webb, 30-25, to earn their 28th-straight home victory against a non-conference foe—a streak that dates back to Nov. 18, 2006. The Trojans toppled Southern, 55-3, in the first-ever meeting of the two clubs, while the Red Wolves posted a 40-21 victory over Central Arkansas for the first win of the Butch Jones era in Jonesboro.

Texas State failed to recover an onside kick in a one-possession game with 1:19 to play and took a safety on the final play, allowing Baylor to escape San Marcos with a 29-20 win.

South Alabama left no doubt in Kane Wommack’s first game at the helm, besting Southern Miss, 31-7. Junior wide receiver Jalen Tolbert recorded his fourth career 100-yard receiving effort in the victory.

For exclusive Sun Belt football content on game days and throughout the 2021 season, follow @SunBeltFB on Twitter.

No. 22/24 Coastal Carolina def. The Citadel, 52-14
App State def. East Carolina, 33-19
Kentucky def. ULM, 45-10
Army def. Georgia State, 43-10
No. 21/19 Texas def. No. 23/23 Louisiana, 38-18
Georgia Southern def. Gardner-Webb, 30-25
Troy def. Southern, 55-3
Arkansas State def. Central Arkansas, 40-21
Baylor def. Texas State, 27-20
South Alabama def. Southern Miss, 31-7

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