The beginning of Malik Simmons’ senior season with the University of North Carolina did not begin on the best of terms.
The Lehigh graduate had been targeted as one of the Tar Heels’ breakout players in 2015 after he had started 15 games and produced 81 tackles between his sophomore and junior seasons from the ram linebacker position.
But offseason misconduct, including two misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and resisting arrest – wherein he was ordered to perform 24 hours of community service, pay court costs and apologize to an officer – caught up to him in the form of a two-game suspension to begin the season.
While Simmons’ court case was deferred — meaning he could have the charges eventually — his season got off to a slower start, with the senior producing just three tackles over the first four games he saw action.
But on Saturday that all changed in the Tar Heels’ 26-13 over Virginia.
Simmons recorded two big interceptions, one pass break up and totaled three tackles in a game that could jumpstart the end of his season in a big way. Both interceptions came in the fourth quarter.
North Carolina improved to 6-1 with the win and remains undefeated in the ACC Coastal Division at 3-0.
Lunsford’s big day for Liberty
Liberty University placekicker John Lunsford hasn’t had the most consistent of seasons.
The Evangelical Christian School grad entered Saturday’s game against Kennesaw State 11-of-20 in field goals over the season, hitting just 1-of-6 from 40-49 yards while being blocked four times.
Perfection, however, can happen week-to-week and Lunsford certainly had a good day in the Flames’ 45-35 win on Saturday.
Lunsford hit a season-best 57-yard field goal with 1:08 left in the second quarter and went 6-for-6 in extra points on the day. He also bombed eight kickoffs for an average of 62.6 yards per attempt and had seven touchbacks.
Liberty improved to 4-4 with the win. Lunsford leads the team in scoring with 56 points.
Johnson workmanlike day for USF
Immokalee grad D’Ernest Johnson has been the glue guy for the University of South Florida this season, doing a host of duties for the Bulls.
While he’s a running back by position, he catches the ball out of the backfield, returns kickoffs and in a pinch can even toss a wicked spiral.
On Saturday in a 38-14 win over SMU, he finally earned his first rushing touchdown of the year, capping off a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard scamper with 11:54 left in the third quarter.
Barnes contributes in Duke’s big win
Dunbar graduate Johnell Barnes had five catches for 47 yards in No. 23 Duke’s 45-43 win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia on Saturday.
The Blue Devils needed four overtimes to beat the Hokies, and improve to 6-1 on the year as they lead the ACC Coastal division with a perfect 3-0 record.
Dixon contributes in loss for Kent State
South Fort Myers grad Antwan Dixon had four catches for 52 yards in Kent State University’s 48-0 loss to Bowling Green State University on Saturday.
Over eight games, he has 14 receptions for 191 yards and a touchdown, which is tied for third on the team.