WILMINGTON – Senior Luke Charles turned in his ninth career 300-yard passing game and matched a five-year old school record with five touchdown passes to help lead No. 17 UNC Pembroke to a 41-20 victory over Shaw in the inaugural Cape Fear Classic on Saturday.
Charles went 28-of-41 passing for 361 yards to lead the undefeated Braves (3-0) in the neutral site.
“Luke has played fantastic these first three games,” UNCP coach Pete Shinnick said. “He works his butt off and spends a lot of time watching film and it is paying off for him.”
Sophomore wide receiver John Rich served as Charles’ main target, matching a school record with three touchdown receptions. Senior Te’Vell Williams hauled in eight catches for 148 yards, including a game-sealing 42-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, as well.
The Braves racked up 533 yards of total offense on the day – their most since putting up 539 yards at Charleston (W.Va.) in 2011. Williams’s 148 receiving yards were the second-most of his career and ties him for fourth all-time in school history.
L.J. Stroman was UNCP’s defensive leader for the second-straight outing, tallying a career-best 11 tackles, all solo, while also grabbing an interception that set up UNCP’s first quarter touchdown. Senior all-American Fred Williams added nine tackles, seven solo, and had a fumble recovery, a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry.
“I am just really proud of our guys,” said UNCP head coach Pete Shinnick. “Except for a few plays here and there, we played a great first half.”
The Braves went ahead 24-7 on Charles’s seven-yard touchdown pass to Rich with 3:50 to play in the second quarter, but the Bears climbed back into the contest on Marquise Grizzle’s (21-97, 2 TD) 46-yard scoring run 99 seconds later, and then cut their deficit to just four points, 24-20, with Grizzle’s four-yard run on the first possession of the second half.
UNCP put the game away in the fourth quarter when Rich scored his third touchdown of the game on a seven-yard reception with 12:53 to play, and the Braves capitalized on a costly fumble by Shaw on the ensuing possession when Charles found Williams on a 42-yard touchdown strike down the near sideline on the following play.
Michael Doss’s first career field goal – a 21-yarder with 4:59 left on the clock – provided the final nail.