McCall leads No. 24 Coastal Carolina to 35-28 win over Troy

David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports
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CONWAY, S.C. – Grayson McCall threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third as No. 24 Coastal Carolina rebounded from its first loss of the season, holding on to defeat Troy 35-28 on Thursday night.

The Chanticleers (7-1, 3-1 Sun Belt Conference) weren’t their sharpest, yet McCall did enough offensively and defensive tackle C.J. Brewer picked up a first down on a fake punt play for Coastal Carolina’s 12th straight home win.

McCall passed for 294 yards, including scoring throws of 66 yards to Jaivon Heiligh and 71 yards to Braydon Bennett. McCall also had a 2-yard run to start Coastal’s scoring.

Still, Troy (4-4, 2-2) made it a one-score game on Gunnar Watson‘s 18-yard touchdown pass to Tez Johnson to draw within 35-28 with 4:52 to go.

But facing fourth-and-4 on its own 31, the Chanticleers set up for a punt. Instead, they snapped the ball to Brewer, who took it around the left side for 12 yards to keep the drive going.

Troy got the ball back with 25 seconds to go on its 24. But Watson fumbled as he was sacked by Josiah Stewart and Jeffrey Gunter recovered as Coastal Carolina won its third straight over the Trojans.

Coastal Carolina came out slow, looking like a team that hadn’t fully flushed its 30-27 loss at Appalachian State on Oct. 20 that had ended its undefeated start.

The Chanticleers didn’t have a first down on its first two possessions – Coastal had scored on its opening drive in all its games this season – and were trailing 7-0 when McCall got going.

There was a scary moment for McCall, who entered as the nation’s best in completion percentage (77.3%) coming in. He went down to a knee after taking a hit on a run, then went to the turf as he tried to jog to the sidelines.

McCall went into the medical tent for a few moments, but was back in on the Chanticleers’ next series.

Heiligh had five catches for 116 yards, his fifth game this season reaching the century mark. Chanticleers tailback Shermari Jones had touchdown runs of four and 54 yards.

Kimani Vidal finished with a game-high 142 yards rushing for the Trojans.


Troy: The Trojans put a couple of scares into Coastal, but didn’t have the staying power on defense to keep the potent Chants off the scoreboard.

Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers will need help if they hope to reach the Sun Belt Conference championship game. Any chance to keep that dream alive means they can’t slip up against teams they’re favored to beat – and they should be the favorites in their final four games.


Troy: Starts a three-game homestand against South Alabama on Nov. 6.

Coastal Carolina: At Georgia Southern on Nov. 6.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:


The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.


The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.


The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.


The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.


After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.