North Carolina Football Team Trivia Across All Divisions
photograph by Kyle T. Webster

Division I

Western Carolina University • Catamounts • Cullowhee
In 1932, the Western Carolina University Catamounts and the Appalachian State University Mountaineers first played each other in football, and a rivalry was born. In 1976, their annual games became a series known as the Battle for the Old Mountain Jug. The trophy was a moonshine jug, painted gold, with images of the teams’ mascots on either side. In the 1980s, Sports Illustrated magazine called the mountain schools’ opposition “the best football rivalry you’ve never heard of.”

Gardner-Webb University • Runnin’ Bulldogs • Boiling Springs
In 1964, George Surratt became the first black man to attend Gardner-Webb University. He’d graduated from Green Bethel High School in Boiling Springs with the dream of playing football at what was then Gardner-Webb Junior College. He practiced with the team, but because of a car accident in his first semester, he was never able to play a game. However, Surratt’s speed enabled him to break several records for the track and field team in 1965.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte • 49ers • Charlotte
The original 49ers football program began in 1946 and lasted just three seasons. Nearly 60 years later, students made it clear that, to them, football was a crucial part of the college experience. In 2007, students voted in favor of a football program, despite the resulting jump in student fees, and later held a student-led “March to the End Zone” on campus. Finally, in 2013, the 49ers got a stadium, a coach, a team, and their first collegiate football game since 1948.

North Carolina Central University • Eagles • Durham
John Brown, who played for NCCU in the 1940’s, back when it was still known as North Carolina College, was the first football player from a historically black college or university to sign a professional football contract. He began his professional career with the Los Angeles Dons and then went on to play in the Canadian Football League.

Davidson College • Wildcats • Davidson
Originally known as the Preachers, with their soft pink and blue colors, the Wildcats’ tough image evolved along with their football team. In 1895, after club football had gained momentum, the student body voted to change the school colors to red and black. In 1917, the team became the Wildcats after Atlanta sportswriters said they “fought like wildcats” in a game against Auburn.

East Carolina University • Pirates • Greenville
The Pirates’ game against the visiting Marshall University Thundering Herd on November 14, 1970 would go down in history, not because of the Pirates’ 17-14 win, but of what happened after. The plane hired to take the Marshall football team to and from Greenville crashed on its way to Huntington Tri-State Airport. All 75 people on board were killed. Today, a plaque showing the memorial fountain on the Marshall University campus stands at the visitor’s entrance to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

University of North Carolina • Tar Heels • Chapel Hill
From 1988-1997, when Coach Mack Brown reigned over Carolina football, interest in the Tar Heel football program skyrocketed. Games at Kenan Memorial Stadium were almost always sold out and, in a 1997 game against Florida State, 62,000 fans came out – the largest crowd at a regular-season college football game in North Carolina history.

Elon University • Phoenix • Elon
Elon’s football history began in 1909 with a practice game on the lawn outside of West Dormitory. The Greensboro High School football team defeated Elon’s collegiate players 60-0. However, Phoenix football made its comeback with an 11-6 win over Bingham Military during its first regular season game and ended its inaugural season in triumph with a 4-1 record.

North Carolina State University • Wolfpack • Raleigh
Head Coach Beattie Feathers lays claim to NC State’s most successful football coaching tenure, with a 37-38-8 record in eight seasons from 1944-1951. In Feathers’ second season, defensive player Howard “Touchdown” Turner broke the record for longest play in the school’s history when he returned an interception 105 yards during a game against Duke University.

Appalachian State University • Mountaineers • Boone
The Mountaineers are the only team in the state to have won an NCAA national football championship. Fans reminisce about the consecutive national championships won in 2005, 2006, and 2007 and proudly claim their team as the first to win three straight national championships, directly after the Army’s two-championship streak ended in 1946.

Campbell University • Fighting Camels • Buies Creek
The Campbell University football team prides itself on a Carolina football tradition. The football program began in 2008 with coach Dale Steele, who played college ball for the University of South Carolina. In 2012, Steele was replaced by Mike Minter, former safety for the Carolina Panthers, who has led the team since.

Duke University • Blue Devils • Durham
Born in Waynesville in 1910, Fred Crawford joined the Blue Devils, playing tackle and end, in the 1930s. He became the first North Carolina footballer to earn first-team All-America honors. Coach Wallace Wade called him “the greatest lineman I ever saw.” In 1964, Crawford was inducted to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and, in 1976, to the Duke University Sports Hall of Fame. He went on the play professionally for the Chicago Bears.

Gardner-Webb University • Runnin’ Bulldogs • Boiling Springs
In 1964, George Surratt became the first black male to attend Gardner-Webb University and the first to letter in track and field. He graduated from Green Bethel High School in Boiling Springs with the dream of playing football at what was then Gardner-Webb Junior College. He practiced with the team but was never able to play a game after a car accident in his first semester. However, Surratt’s speed allowed him to break several records in 1965 when he joined track and field.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University • Aggies • Greensboro
In the 1940s, the Aggies had four coaches in five years. Homer Harris, Roland Bernard, Charles DeBerry, and Charles Carter all coached the team between 1940 and 1945. DeBerry, the only of the four coaches to stay for more than one season, drove the team to its second-ever undefeated season in 1943. It was during this same season that the Aggies play in their first post-season bowl game, defeating Southern in the Flower Bowl.

Wake Forest University • Demon Deacons • Winston-Salem
Beginning in 1888, the first season in Wake Forest football history included only one game. The Deacons, then known as the Fighting Baptists, defeated the UNC Tar Heels 6-4 in the first intercollegiate football game ever played in North Carolina.

Western Carolina University • Catamounts • Cullowhee
In 1932, Western Carolina and Appalachian State University, the only public colleges in the Western half of the state, first played each other in football and a rivalry was born. In 1976, their annual rivalry games became a trophy series known as the Battle for the Old Mountain Jug. The trophy was a moonshine jug, painted gold with the teams’ mascots – the Western Carolina Catamount and the Appalachian State Mountaineer – on opposing sides. In the 1980s, Sports Illustrated magazine called the mountain schools’ opposition “the best football rivalry you’ve never heard of.”

Division II

Lenoir-Rhyne University • Bears • Hickory
Two Lenoir-Rhyne graduates have become NFL football coaches. The first, Mike Pope, coached tight ends for the New York Giants for 21 years, serving on all four of their Super Bowl Championship teams. The second, Perry Fewell, coached the defensive backs of the Chicago Bears. He then worked as the defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills before joining Pope and the Giants.

Livingstone College • Blue Bears • Salisbury
Livingstone College is said to be the birthplace of black college football. The Blue Bears played their first game against Charlotte’s Biddle University — now known as Johnson C. Smith University — on the Livingstone College front lawn in 1892. Players scrounged up the money to buy a regulation football and team uniforms. They played in their street shoes, attaching cleats that were removed after games and practices.

University of North Carolina at Pembroke • Braves • Pembroke
If you walk through Pembroke’s campus and see an athlete attempting to climb a nine-foot-tall rock, get ready for a great game. According to UNC Pembroke’s “Legend of the Rock,” if a player rubs the life-size bronze hawk statue that sits on top of a large granite pedestal between the James B. Chavis University Center and the English E. Jones Athletic Center, it will bring them luck during the game.

Winston-Salem State University • Rams • Winston-Salem
Selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the 2nd round of the 1987 NFL Draft, Raleigh native Donald Evans lays claim as the highest player ever drafted from Winston-Salem State University. He played eight seasons in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Jets. Evans is now in the WSSU Clarence E. “Big House” Gaines Athletic Hall of Fame.

Chowan University • Hawks • Murfreesboro
North Carolina native Jim Garrison was the head coach of the Hawks football team for 37 years, and served Chowan’s athletic department for more than 50 years. Garrison attended Gardner-Webb and then Western Carolina University, where he was co-captain of the 1954 team. During Garrison’s time at Chowan, the Hawks won 185 games – seventh among all U.S. junior college coaches – and 35 players were NJCAA All-Americans. During his lifetime, Garrison was inducted into five halls of fame: the National Junior College Athletics Association, North Carolina Sports, Gardner-Webb, Western Carolina University and Chowan.

Wingate University • Bulldogs • Wingate
The Bulldogs made history in 2010 when they became the first senior college team to win nine games. That same year, the Wingate football team won the SAC title for the first time in school history and won their first-ever NCAA playoff game.

Catawba College • Catawba Indians • Salisbury
In 1947, the Catawba Indians defeated Maryville College 31-6 in the first-ever Tangerine Bowl. A year later, the team shutout another school, Marshall University, winning the 2nd annual Tangerine Bowl, which later became known as the Capital One Bowl and today is called the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.

Fayetteville State University • Broncos • Fayetteville
Broncos football dates back to 1921, when FSU was a two-year school known as the State Colored Normal School. Today, the Broncos are part of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and have won three CIAA Championships in the last decade.

St. Augustine’s University • Falcons • Raleigh
Isaac “Ike” Lassiter was the first St. Augustine’s graduate to play in the NFL. Born in Wilson, Lassiter received a football scholarship to St. Augustine’s, where he played as a defensive lineman. When he graduated in 1962, the Los Angeles Rams drafted Lassiter in the 9th round. He went on the play for the Denver Broncos, the Oakland Raiders, and the New England Patriots. In 1967, he played starting left defensive end for the Raiders in Super Bowl II.

Johnson C. Smith University • Golden Bulls • Charlotte
When Pettis Norman received a football scholarship to Johnson C. Smith University, then-coach Eddie McGirt had never seen him play but, in Norman’s first year with the Golden Bulls, he was named MVP. In 1962, he joined the NFL Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent, playing tight end for the Cowboys for nearly a decade before moving on to the San Diego Chargers and eventually retiring. Today, Johnson C. Smith University’s outstanding student-athlete award is named the Pettis Norman Award.

Elizabeth City State University • Vikings • Elizabeth City
The ECSU Vikings have sent no less than eight of their players to the NFL. The first to play more than one season was Jethro Pugh, Jr. of Windsor. He enrolled at ECSU at just 16 and played both offense and defense for the Vikings, becoming a two-time All-CIAA defensive end in 1963 and 1964. He went on the play for the Dallas Cowboys for 14 years, the fourth-longest tenure in franchise history. He won two of four Super Bowl games he played in, before retiring in 1978.

Mars Hill University • Mountain Lions • Mars Hill
In 2011, Mars Hill football player Jonas Randolph became the first from North Carolina to win the prestigious Harlon Hill Trophy, which is given annually to the most valuable player in NCAA Division II and is often considered the Division II equivalent of the Heisman. In 2012, Randolph signed with the Bloomington Edge of the Indoor Football League.

Shaw University • Bears • Raleigh
Two former Bears went on to play in the NFL. The first, Van Green, was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1973 and played five seasons with the Browns and the Buffalo Bills. The second, Edawn Coughman, did a stint with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League and later played for six different NFL teams: the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins and Houston Texans.

Brevard College • Tornados • Brevard
The Tornados football program was restarted in 2006, when the Brevard football team played for the first time since the 1950s. Two years later, the team became a full member of the NCAA Division II. However, in 2015, Brevard decided to reclassify its athletic teams to Division III. This fall season will be Brevard’s last as a Division II team, with the hope of entering the membership process in the 2017-2018 academic year.

Division III

Guilford College • Quakers • Greensboro
It’s a Guilford College custom to ring a cowbell to cheer on the Quakers football team. Some say the tradition comes from the college’s dairy barn. Others claim that the bell-ringing started with a prank: In 1949, men from the football team sneaked a dairy cow into the women’s residence hall. From then on, Guilford women rang cowbells to support the team.

North Carolina Wesleyan College • Battling Bishops • Rocky Mount
Just two years after NC Wesleyan’s football program began in 2005, the Battling Bishops saw their best season yet. They were the 2007 USA South Champions and made it to the NCAA Division III football tournament, where they defeated top-seed Washington & Jefferson. This was the first time in NCAA history that a No. 8 seed beat the No. 1 seed.

Methodist University • Monarchs • Fayetteville
The football stadium for the Methodist Monarchs had only lawn seating from 1989, the year of the team’s inception, to 1999, when 800 seats were added. The Monarchs’ stadium doesn’t have a visitors’ side, however. Be careful not to get heated up about a Methodist University game, because Monarch fans and rival fans sit together in a section that is always known as home.

Greensboro College • Pride • Greensboro
Each year since 1997, when Greensboro College first created its intercollegiate football program, the Pride has faced off with their neighbors, the Guilford College Quakers, in the annual Soup Bowl. Attendants can watch the game for free with a donation of at least two non-perishable food items. In the past 19 years, the series has produced 80,000 cans of food, which are donated to regional charities.

This story was published on

DeLaney McGuire interned for Our State, and is a student at UNC Chapel Hill.