Maye leads Tar Heels past Florida A&M 56-24 in first start

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Drake Maye threw four of his five touchdown passes in the first half in his first collegiate start and North Carolina beat undermanned Florida A&M 56-24 to open the season Saturday night.

Six different North Carolina players scored touchdowns, with Josh Downs making two touchdown catches.

“It was fun out there,” Maye said. “We’ve got a lot of talent. We just have to put it together.”

Florida A&M arrived with a roster reduced by nearly two dozen players because of unresolved eligibility issues. The list of those absent included linebacker Isaiah Land, who led the Football Championship Subdivision in sacks last year.

The game nearly didn’t happen.

“I thought it was my duty to leave this up to our guys,” Jaguars coach Willie Simmons said of Friday’s uncertainty. “They initially decided not to play the game, and after some internal discussions, they decided to play the game. So we got on the plane with the mindset that we were going to play. . I’m extremely proud of how they came together because most teams would have used excuses and come out here, laid an egg, and (instead we) played a game that I’m very proud of.”

Maye, a redshirt freshman and younger brother of former Tar Heels basketball standout Luke Maye and son of ex-North Carolina quarterback Mark Maye, completed 29 of 37 passes for 294 yards – some coming in a light rain.

“He thinks this is what he’s supposed to be doing,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said. “One of the best first games I’ve ever seen.”

The young quarterback had a couple notable achievements. He’s the first North Carolina player to throw five touchdowns in a season opener and the first to connect for five touchdowns in a first career start.

“That’s kind of how the game worked out,” Maye said of the records.

North Carolina running back Omarion Hampton scored on touchdown runs of 2 and 25 yards in his debut. He finished with 101 rushing yards on 14 carries.

Florida A&M quarterback Jeremy Moussa, a graduate transfer from Vanderbilt, threw for two touchdowns. He completed 28 of 38 passes for 279 yards with an interception.

“He’s no longer a secret,” Simmons said of the arrival of Moussa.

The Jaguars were within 21-14 until Downs’ 2-yard touchdown catch with 5 seconds left in the first half.

Earlier, Maye connected with Kamari Morales for a 19-yard touchdown pass for the game’s first points. It came one play after Maye dodged defenders on the way to a 42-yard run.

The Jaguars responded by driving 75 yards in eight plays and scoring on Moussa’s 17-yard pass to AJ Davis.

On the ensuing possession, Maye hooked up with Bryson Nesbit for a 23-yard touchdown. His next scoring play came on a fourth-and-4 pass to Gavin Blackwell.

HIS TOWN, FINALLY

Veteran North Carolina coach Mack Brown had never defeated a team from Tallahassee, Florida, until this result. As coach of the Tar Heels, Brown, a Florida State alum, had been 0-8 all-time against Florida State.

This was the first football meeting between Florida A&M and North Carolina.

“It was a perfect opening game for us,” Brown said.

Brown, who turned 71 on Saturday, has 266 career coaching victories.

THE TAKEAWAY

Florida A&M: The Jaguars couldn’t sustain their good stretches and that could have come in part because of limited players available. They suited up about 50 players. They won’t play another Football Bowl Subdivision team this year, so repeating the success of a nine-win season from last year appears possible.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels will be happy with what they saw from members of their young offensive backfield. They won’t be so fond of the defense giving up 279 passing yards, with 273 of those coming across the first three quarters.

UP NEXT

Florida A&M: The Jaguars play Jackson State in Miami on Sept. 4.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels play at Appalachian State on Saturday.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.