The Defense Rests
The perfect ending to North Carolina State's marvelous defensive effort in a 24-7 defeat of North Carolina last Saturday came when Wolfpack cornerback Sebastian Savage made an interception and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown with four seconds remaining. Afterward, Sebastian had some, ah, savage words for those who had been suggesting that the Tar Heels were on the brink of becoming the No. 1 team in the state and up-and-coming contenders in the ACC.
"People say they beat us every year in recruiting," Savage said. "They've been saying that since my freshman year in 1988. Well, if they are out-recruiting us, what are they doing with those players?"
O.K., Sebastian, we hear you. We had North Carolina rated 20th in our preseason poll (State was unranked), though we weren't the only ones seduced by the Tar Heels' rise from back-to-back 1-10 seasons to 6-4-1 last year. But now it's obvious that the Heels have a way to go. For the fourth straight year, the Wolfpack earned howling rights over its archrival. It did so without leading tackier Billy Ray Haynes, who injured his right ankle in the first quarter, and quarterback Terry Jordan, who suffered a season-ending broken left arm in the second quarter.
Much credit goes to Jordan's backup, redshirt freshman Geoff Bender, who said after the game, "Just going on the field gave mc goose bumps." But Bender was poised enough. On his third play from scrimmage he called an audible and hit Hanker Eddie Goines with a 27-yard touchdown pass to give the Wolfpack a 10-0 lead. For the day, Bender completed four of 10 throws, including a second TD pass for 35 yards.
The Wolfpack's defense, which gave up its first touchdown of the season in the second half, repeatedly bailed out the offense in the final quarter, holding the Tar Heels scoreless after State fumbled twice. Even without Haynes, the Wolfpack allowed the Heels only 33 yards rushing while registering five sacks. "We didn't establish anything offensively," said Tar Heel coach Mack Brown, who was so upset with quarterback Chuckie Burnette that he might replace him with highly acclaimed freshman Mike Thomas.
The Wolfpack won't be able to preen for long, though. This Saturday, N.C. State plays host to a frustrated Georgia Tech team that lost a 9-7 heartbreaker last Saturday at Clemson.
The Rocket's Wake
One of the reasons Syracuse will take a 4-0 record into Saturday's game against—shudder—Florida State in Tallahassee is the play of junior wide receiver Qadry (the Missile) Ismail, who is filling the charisma gap that was created in college ball when his older brother, Raghib (the Rocket) Ismail, bypassed his senior year at Notre Dame to accept a zillion bucks to play in the Canadian Football League.
In Syracuse's 24-0 win over Tulane last Saturday, Qadry (pronounced KAH-dree) scored on a 45-yard reverse and on a 64-yard reception of a pass from Marvin Graves. A week earlier, in the Orange's 38-21 upset of Florida, Ismail caught six passes for 95 yards, including a 36-yarder for a TD. "Qadry is doing an excellent job," said rookie Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni. "He is focusing on 'catch the ball, and good things will happen.' "
At six feet and 192 pounds, Qadry is slightly bigger than Raghib, who was listed last year by the Fighting Irish at 5'10" and 175 pounds. However, Qadry is almost as fast. Last spring he earned All-America honors in track, running the 55-meter indoor hurdles in a school-record 13.67 seconds.
Although he still has more than a season and a half of eligibility remaining, Oadry already is Syracuse's alltime kick return leader, with 1,591 yards on 71 returns. "Soon when they talk about me," Oadry says, "it will be about what Oadry the Missile did today and not about what Oadry the Rocket's little brother did." Even Qadry might be surprised to learn that his stats in receptions, kickoff returns and all-purpose yards are ahead of the Rocket's at a similar stage last season and also compare favorably to those of another Notre Dame man, Tim Brown, when he won the Heisman in 1987.
Ty Gets a Win
Brigham Young's Ty Detmer—you remember him, right?—sounded more peeved than relieved after the Cougars had wrapped up a 21-7 Western Athletic Conference victory over previously unbeaten Air Force, ending a nightmarish five-game losing streak since Detmer was announced as the 1990 Heisman Trophy winner last Dec. 1. Asked about his critics in the media, Detmer said, "They'll write what they want to. They'll say this was a weak Air Force team. They don't look for the good, only the bad. But they'll have to write we're undefeated in the WAC."
Yes, they are, but that's no big deal considering how weak the WAC looks this season. With the Falcons out of the way, in fact, BYU could go unbeaten the rest of the way—only Texas-El Paso appears to be a threat—and Detmer will be able to pad all those offensive records he already owns. But Detmer's career is still destined to be remembered as the most shocking reversal of fortune in the Heisman's 56-year history.
In those five consecutive losses—two at the end of last season and the first three games of this year, all on the road—the Cougars have been outscored 228-100. During the losing streak, Detmer was sacked 19 times and threw almost as many interceptions (eight) as touchdown passes (nine).
Against Air Force, which carried a seven-game winning streak into the game, Detmer returned to form, passing for 340 yards and two TDs. However, his protection also broke down so often that he was forced to scramble for a career-high 42 yards rushing. "I don't run unless I absolutely have to," Detmer said afterward. "Getting that many yards running is purely an accident." Is it cruel to suggest that his winning last year's Heisman Trophy was, too?
"I'm numb," said Hanover (Ind.) College quarterback Paul Gray after his team's 55-46 loss to Georgetown (Ky.) College in an NAIA Division II game in Georgetown. No wonder. Gray attempted 92 passes, the most ever in any college game at any level. He completed 41, for 630 yards and seven TDs....
Louisville quarterback Eric Watts is a son of former pro wrestler "Cowboy" Bill Watts, who played for Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma. As a youngster, Watts once brought Andre the Giant to school for show-and-tell....
In Oklahoma's 27-17 win over Virginia Tech, Sooner quarterback Cale Gundy set a school record with 18 completions and tied another with 31 attempts....
Bonehead Move of the Week: With his Rice team leading Iowa State by 27-17 with 3:30 remaining, coach Fred Goldsmith decided to rest Trevor Cobb, who had gained 240 yards on 42 carries. Cobb's replacement, freshman Byron Coston, fumbled, and Iowa State recovered. The Cyclones, living up to their nickname, scored 11 points in the final 1:18 for a 28-27 win. "Obviously," said Goldsmith, "I made a big mistake."
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Jamie Martin, a junior quarterback for Division I-AA Weber State, completed 33 of 51 passes for 440 yards and seven TDs, including the game-winner with 0:16 left, in a 63-59 defeat of Eastern Washington.
Darren Perry, a senior strong safety for Penn State, intercepted three passes and returned the third 45 yards for the decisive touchdown in the Nittany Lions' 28-21 defeat of Boston College.
Allegheny's Stanley Drayton, a junior tailback, carried 21 times for 179 yards and four touchdowns as the Gators, the defending Division III champions, beat Denison 63-20 for their 17th-straight victory.