College football top plays: Northwestern, FSU, Illinois earn wins

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College football is back! The 2022-23 season kicked off with an action-packed Week 0 slate Saturday.

The action started on FOX, as Northwestern took down Big Ten West rival Nebraska, 31-28, in Dublin, Ireland.

In other action, defending Mountain West champion Utah State defeated UConn 31-20 in Jim Mora‘s debut as Huskies head coach, and Illinois handled Wyoming with ease, 38-6.

Later, in ACC action, Florida State cruised to a win over Duquesne, while North Carolina defeated Florida A&M

In the nightcap, Vanderbilt cruised to an easy victory over Hawaii in Honolulu.

Here are the top plays from Week 0.

Vanderbilt 63, Hawaii 10

Hawaii took a quick 7-0 with this 37-yard dash by Dedrick Parson.

But Vandy would soon be in the lead after a big hit led to a fumble return to pay dirt.

The Commodores started the second half hot, scoring quickly on back-to-back possessions to push their edge to 35-10.

Vandy QB Mike Wright was a problem both with his arms and his legs, as he proved on this 87-yard TD sprint, which was assisted by a massive block on the outside. 

The Commodores won the third quarter 35-0 to take a 56-10 lead into the final period. Wright finished with 146 passing yards and a pair of TD passes, adding another 163 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

North Carolina 56, Florida A&M 24

The Tar Heels scored their first TD of the season when Kamari Morales hauled in a 19-yard pass from Drake Maye.

UNC upped its tally to 14 by the end of one, and in the second quarter, Maye did his best acrobat impression with a deft display of pocket maneuvering, finding an open man in the back of the end zone for his third TD of the half. The Tar Heels led 28-14 at the half.

The second half was more of the same, as the Heels built a massive lead. Running back George Pettaway was a big reason for that, as he showed fancy footwork on this 29-yard scoring dash.

What an impressive Tar Heels debut for Maye!

Florida State 47, Duquesne 7

Made you look!

FSU QB Jordan Travis faked out the Duquesne defense to put the Seminoles on the board early.

Pouring it on

Florida State extended its lead to 33-0 in the third quarter. Travis completed a deep pass after a low snap to set up a touchdown run for Treshaun Ward.

Another exclamation point for the Seminoles

Trey Benson made a 43-yard touchdown run look easy, shaking off a Duquesne safety to make it 40-7 FSU late in the third, and they cruised from there.

Utah State 31, Connecticut 20

Light work

The Huskies made the most of their first possession, capping off a nine-play, 79-yard drive with six points.

Ta’Quan Roberson puts UConn ahead after QB sneak

The Huskies took a 7-0 lead after Ta’Quan Roberson scored on a QB sneak.

Count it!

UConn started its third possession of the game with huge back-to-back runs from Nathan Carter and Cale Millen. That set up this beautiful pass from Zion Turner to Keelan Marion for the score. The catch was reviewed and ruled a touchdown, giving the Huskies a 14-0 lead.

For the first time since 2015, UConn had more than a 10-point lead at the end of the first quarter.

Zion Turner throws a 13-yard touchdown pass

UConn Huskies QB Zion Turner throws a 13-yard strike to WR Keelan Marion for the touchdown.

Knotted up

The Aggies came back to tie things up, thanks to a TD pass from Logan Bonner to Kyle Van Leeuwe, then a smooth 23-yard rush from Robert Briggs.

Robert Briggs breaks loose!

Robert Briggs’ 23-yard TD rush ties Utah State and UConn,14-14, in the second quarter.

Aggies coming through

Utah State took the lead, 21-14, as the first half came to a close when Bonner found Justin McGriff in the corner of the end zone. McGriff was able to hang on despite big-time pass interference from the Huskies.

Utah State’s Logan Bonner connects with Justin McGriff for a 14-yard TD

Utah State’s Logan Bonner connects with Justin McGriff for a 14-yard touchdown against UConn. Utah State leads UConn, 21-14.

In the corner!

Brian Cobbs made an impressive touchdown grab to extend Utah State’s lead to 31-20 late in the fourth, and that would be the final score.

Illinois 38, Wyoming 6

Off to the races

It only took the Fighting Illini two plays to get on the board, as Tommy DeVito connected with running back Chase Brown for a 14-yard TD.

Extending the lead

Illinois added to its lead in the second quarter with an 11-yard rush from Brown to make it 14-3.

Running away with it

Illinois turned up the heat in the second half, starting with a 6-yard touchdown from wideout Pat Bryant.

Hat Trick!

It was more of the same from Brown, who came up with his third score of the day in the fourth quarter. Just like that, Illinois jumped out to a 31-6 lead early in the final frame.

You didn’t tackle me!

Reggie Love added a fifth touchdown on the day for the Illini when he ran a sweep. He was brought down by a Wyoming defender, but his body never hit the turf, so he got back up and took the ball into the end zone to extend Illinois’ lead to 38-6.

That ended up being the final score of the game, giving Illinois its first win of the season.

Northwestern 31, Nebraska 28

And we’re off!

Nebraska was the first to strike in this one, as quarterback Casey Thompson, a transfer from Texas, hit Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda with a 32-yard touchdown that brought Cornhuskers fans to their feet in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

Casey Thompson tosses 32-yard TD

Nebraska takes the early lead over Northwestern after a 32-yard touchdown pass from QB Casey Thompson to WR Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda.

Closing the gap

Northwestern came up big on third down, as Illinois transfer Donny Navarro reeled in a monster catch from QB Ryan Hilinski while taking a big hit. The big gain helped the Wildcats get on the board with a field goal, making it 7-3.

No quit

On the first play of the second quarter, Thompson turned a potential colossal mistake into a 15-yard gain for the Cornhuskers.

Coming through!

Thompson capped that drive off with a 1-yard TD rush on third down to extend Nebraska’s lead, 14-3.

Casey Thompson punches it in for a 1-yard touchdown

Nebraska QB Casey Thompson’s 1-yard rush gives him his second touchdown on the day and gives the Cornhuskers a 14-3 lead in the second quarter.

Returning the favor

Northwestern answered with a score of its own, going 74 yards in just four plays — including this clutch 41-yard throw from Hilinski to a wide-open Raymond Niro — to make it a four-point game, 14-10.

Ryan Hilinski connects with Raymond Niro on 41-yard TD pass

Northwestern QB Ryan Hilinski connected with Raymond Niro on a beautiful 41-yard touchdown pass to cut into Nebraska’s lead.

Mayhem!

Nebraska’s first major mistake came in the middle of the second quarter when Garcia-Castaneda fumbled.

Northwestern running back Evan Hull made the most of the turnover, taking off for 42 total yards on the following drive, including this tough 25-yard pickup that required some fancy footwork.

Hull, now a junior, led Northwestern in all-purpose yards (1,276) last season as a redshirt sophomore.

Unfortunately for Northwestern fans, the drive ended without any points.

It wasn’t all bad, however, as fans from both sides lucked out at the concession stand … 

The tables have turned

Northwestern converted on a massive fourth-and-1 play with 1:45 remaining in the first half. The risky move paid off when the Wildcats capped off the 13-play, 82-yard drive with six points.

Ryan Hilinski connects with Donny Navaro

Ryan Hilinski finds Donny Navaro in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown pass that gives Northwestern a 17-14 lead in the second quarter.

With that score, Northwestern took a 17-14 lead heading into the break.

Magic!

Nebraska opened up the second half with some fireworks. Thompson scrambled for nearly 12 seconds before launching the ball to Garcia-Castaneda for a 59-yard gain for a crucial first down.

The drive ended with a touchdown, as the Cornhuskers regained the lead, 21-17, early in the third quarter.

Casey Thompson’s wild scramble and pass leads to touchdown

Nebraska Cornhuskers QB Casey Thompson’s scramble and 58-yard pass to Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda leads to 3-yard TD run from Anthony Grant.

To the house!

Nebraska took an 11-point lead, 28-17, as Anthony Grant took off for 46 yards on the following drive.

Anthony Grant dashes for long TD

Anthony Grant rushed for a 46-yard touchdown after a critical Northwestern Wildcats’ fumble, giving the Nebraska Cornhuskers a 28-17 lead.

Bad decision?

It didn’t stay that way for long, however, as Nebraska opted for an onside kick. Northwestern came away with the ball and went 43 yards in five plays, as Porter redeemed himself with a short TD run. Just like that, it was a four-point game, 28-24.

One-possession game

It was a one-score game to start the fourth quarter, but that was short-lived after a Nebraska turnover. Then, Hull found the end zone on a 4-yard rush, giving the Wildcats a three-point edge, 31-28.

Northwestern sealed the win with a late fourth-quarter interception, handing Frost his 21st one-score loss as Nebraska’s head coach.

THE BEST OF THE REST:

First!

It was Western Kentucky that served up the first touchdown of the 2022-23 season when Hilltoppers QB Austin Reed connected with wideout Malachi Corley for a score against Austin Peay.

Bombs away!

Wild things were happening in Montgomery, Alabama between Stephen F. Austin and Jacksonville State.


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