UNC, State, ECU hold spring football games

The Tar Heels and Pirates finished their games in ties while star Devin Leary and his first team offense shined for the Wolfpack

Devin Leary put on an impressive performance in NC State's annual spring football game on Saturday (Chris Carlson / AP Photo)

Ties became a thing of the past during college football’s regular season with the advent of overtime. But they’re still alive and well in the spring, as North Carolina and East Carolina proved on Saturday.

Although they used vastly different scoring systems, both the Tar Heels and Pirates had their annual spring games end in deadlocks. NC State, meanwhile, saw its highly-touted first team put a lopsided 50-7 pounding on its second team in its final offseason scrimmage.

Here’s a look at the details:


The game, which ended in a 14-14 draw, served as a preview for the quarterback competition to come this fall as Jacoby Criswell and Drake Maye battle to fill the void left by the departure of Sam Howell to the NFL draft.

Criswell completed all six of his passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. Maye, the brother of former Tar Heel basketball star Luke Maye, went 9 of 12 for 113 yards and two scores. Each quarterback connected with star receiver Josh Downs for a touchdown, with Criswell hitting him from 12 yards out on the game’s opening series and Maye completing a 38-yarder for a score on the fifth series.

Downs finished with four catches for 95 yards.

D.J. Jones scored on a 1-yard run and Elijah Green had a three-yard run for the game’s other two touchdowns. Green led all rushers with 61 yards while Kamarro Edmonds had 50 yards on four carries

The only turnover was provided by Jake Harkleroad, who intercepted a pass from Jefferson Boaz.


Defense carried the day in Greenville as the Pirates’ were only able to muster two scores in the game – a 1-yard touchdown run by Rahjai Harris in the third quarter and a 19-yard field goal by Carson Smith in the fourth.

Because coach Mike Houston employed a scoring system that also awarded points for things such as first downs gained, sacks and third down stops, the game ended in a 40-40 tie when the clock ran out on the offense as time ran out before it could get a decisive field goal attempt off.

Damel Hickman, Jack Powers and Julius Woods all had six tackles and a pass breakup while Jireh Wilson had an interception to key the defense. Offensively, backup quarterback Mason Garcia was the standout, going 23 of 35 for 239 yards. Starter Holton Ahlers completed 10 of his 16 passes for 115 yards while seeing action only in the first half.

After the game, the Pirates held a ceremony in which the players returning from last season were given rings commemorating their Military Bowl game that was canceled because of a COVID outbreak among their opponent Boston College.


Quarterback Devin Leary and his first-team offense put on a show in leading the Red team to a convincing victory. Playing only the first half, the rising junior went 26 of 34 for 355 yards and three touchdowns – a 1-yard toss to Thayer Thomas, a 9-yarder to Porter Rooks and a 34-yard strike to Anthony Smith.

Leary was also the top rusher in the first half with 31 yards on two carries.

Backup quarterback Ben Finley also threw a touchdown pass, a 44-yarder to Joshua Crabtree while freshmen Michael Allen and Julian Gray finished the scoring with fourth quarter scores – Allen on a short run and Gray on a 45-yard catch.

Kicker Christopher Dunn was also busy with field goals of 29, 35 and 53 yards.

Wake Forest and Duke will hold their spring games next Saturday. Appalachian State and Charlotte have already completed their spring practices.