Chants fall to Gamecocks, host B-C in playoff opener

uscfoot-ccuOne day after suffering a 70-10 defeat at FBS power South Carolina, Coastal Carolina got some good news concerning the FCS playoffs.

Coastal Carolina football team will face a familiar foe in the first round of the FCS Playoffs, albeit in a new location. The Chanticleers (10-2), who clinched the Big South Conference’s automatic bid, will welcome Bethune-Cookman (10-2), champions of the MEAC, to Brooks Stadium for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Saturday.

The Chants defeated B-C in the first round of last year’s FCS playoffs, scoring a 24-14 victory over the Wildcats in their home stadium. This time the Chants will get home-field advantage in the opener. The winner faces a long road trip for the second round at Montana (10-2). Playoff tickets will go on sale Monday at the CCU ticket office.

Coastal Carolina committed three first half turnovers, including on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter, and could not recover as the #7/11 (FCS) Chanticleers fell 70-10 at #11/12 (FBS) South Carolina (8-3) Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The 10-2 Chanticleers were playing their last regular-season game of the season, but their season will continue as recipients of the Big South’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Coastal will learn its postseason fate tomorrow (Sunday, Nov. 24) at 11:30 am with the NCAA Selection Show being shown nationally on ESPNU. The Chanticleers will watch the show as a team in the Adkins Field House Team Room (third floor) and the public is welcome but space will be limited.

Coastal was led by Matt Hazel, who had six receptions for 83 yards. His 817 yards this season to date ranks second on the CCU single-season list. Alex Ross completed 15-of-25 passes for 168 yards with a touchdown and just his seventh interception of the season. Walter Payton Award candidate Lorenzo Taliaferro only managed 21 yards on 10 carries, but he caught a season –high four passes for 11 yards, including CCU’s lone touchdown of the contest. Taliaferro now has 25 scores on the season.

Coastal opened the game with a 25-yard Alex Ross to Hazel completion, but later would be forced to punt. The Gamecocks used 10 plays to cover 85 yards to take an early 7-0 lead. Connor Shaw, who scrambled to convert a fourth down at midfield, improvised again in the backfield to cap the drive with 35-yard touchdown pass to Shaq Roland.

South Carolina made it 14-0 on its second drive as Jamari Smith scored from three yards out. On Coastal’s ensuing drive, the Chanticleers lost a fumble – just the fourth by CCU this season – and the Gamecocks only needed four plays to cover 23 yards and take a 21-0 lead. Shaw called his own number to score from one yard out.

South Carolina took advantage of another CCU turnover. After coming up an inch short on fourth and one on Coastal’s own 34, Dylan Thompson needed just one play to hit Nick Jones for a touchdown and give USC a 28-0 lead. South Carolina then took advantage of a CCU defensive holding en route to an 80-yard, six-play drive with Thompson hitting Pharoh Cooper for an 18-yard score and 35-0 cushion.

The Gamecocks made it six drives and six touchdowns with 7:53 left in the second quarter as Brandon Wilds had runs of 27 yards, 13 yards and one yard, the last being a score.

The Chanticleers got on the scoreboard with minutes left before the break. Ross was 6-of-7 passing on the drive, including completions of 12, 6, 11, 34, 1 and 1. The last, after escaping two tackles on a scramble, was a touchdown to Taliaferro, marking his 25th score of the season.

Coastal looked to add another score with under 10 seconds to play, but an interception in the end zone kept the score 42-7.

The Gamecocks took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 72 yards in nine plays with Thompson keeping the ball for a nine-yard score. Cooper, lining up in the “wildcat,” took the snap, hit a seam and raced 79 yards to make the score 55-7. Shon Carson put USC over the 60-point barrier with a one-yard run. A 52-yard run by Smith would lead to a four-yard touchdown run by Wilds to give USC 70 points – the most allowed by CCU and the most scored by USC in the Steve Spurrier era.

Alex Catron capped the scoring with a 46-yard field goal to provide the 70-10 final.

Photo by Joel Beachum, Carolina Clicks Photos

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