Coastal cruises past B-C; packs bags for Montana

ccufoot-10tdAlex Ross threw a career-high four touchdowns – two to Matt Hazel – and Walter Payton Award candidate Lorenzo Taliaferro added one on the ground to lead No. 11 Coastal Carolina to a 48-24 victory over No. 12 Bethune-Cookman in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Division I Football Championship Saturday afternoon at Brooks Stadium.

The Chanticleers set a program record with 11 wins, improving to 11-2, while the Wildcats drop to 10-3. Coastal Carolina will now travel west to face #8 seed and fourth-ranked Montana for the second round, Dec. 7 in Missoula.

Defensively for CCU, Buck Buchanan Award candidate Quinn Backus led the Chanticleers with 15 tackles, including three for losses, while fellow linebacker Mike McClure had eight stops, three for losses, and a 59-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Sophomore Richie Sampson added nine tackles, including three for losses and two sacks, and forced the fumble McClure returned for a score.

Coastal got on the board first. Taliaferro converted two third downs and accounted for 37 of the 62 yards on five carries. Ross capped the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Tyrell Blanks. Alex Catron added the point after for a 7-0 lead with 9:55 left in the first quarter.

On the ensuing Bethune-Cookman drive, Richie Sampson knocked the ball out of the hand of Wildcat quarterback Quentin Williams. Chanticleer linebacker Mike McClure grabbed the ball in midair and returned it 39 yards for his first career touchdown.

The Wildcats bounced back to get inside the CCU 25. The big play was Williams turning a busted play into a 23-yard gain. A penalty backed the Wildcats up on third down and they went for it on fourth-and-four. Williams once again made a play with his feet, escaping a near sack and getting to the CCU 12. However, the Chanticleer defense stiffened and Jonathan Cagle came on to make a 23-yard field goal cutting the B-CU deficit to 14-3 with 3:05 left in the opening frame.

The Chants responded by taking to the air, covering 82 yards in just seven plays. Ross hit DeMario Bennett for 12 yards, Niccolo Mastromatteo for 22 and capped the drive with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Hazel as CCU led 21-3 at the end of the first quarter.

To open the second quarter, Williams had a run of 10 yards then completed passes of 12 and 40 yards to Eddie Poole, the second getting the Wildcats down to the four. Two plays later, Williams found paydirt from four yards out to make the score 21-10.

After the teams traded punts, Coastal struck quick with a 50-yard Ross to Tyrell Blanks completion to the B-CU seven yard line. On third down, Taliaferro scored from eight yards out to give Coastal a 27-10 cushion.

Bethune-Cookman attempted to get on the board late in the second quarter, kicking a 33-yard field goal. Coastal blocked the kick, but was offside on the play. The Wildcats then spread the field with their field goal personnel on the field. The pass was complete, but Sampson tackled Jordan Murphy on the CCU three to force a turnover on downs.

The Chants pushed their advantage to 34-10 with 4:39 left in the third quarter with a pair of 23-yard completions. First, Ross hit Mastromatteo then John Israel to cap a four-play, 53-yard drive. On CCU’s next drive, Ross hit Israel for 25 yards and the next play Hazel made a highlight-reel, one-hand catch for a 21-yard touchdown and 41-10 lead.

Bethune-Cookman scored and the two-point try with 8:29 left to make the score 41-18. The drive covered 14-plays and 84 yards and ended with Bethune-Cookman facing fourth-and four as Brodrick Waters hit Poole for a 16-yard touchdown pass.

The Wildcats forced a three-and-out and only need two plays to make the score 41-24. Waters found Cary White down the right sideline for a 32-yard gain then he scrambled and scored from 27-yards out.

With just over five minutes to play, Bethune-Cookman  tried an on-side side, which Taliaferro recovered on the B-CU 46. On the Chants’ first play from scrimmage, Travis Small had a 29-yard run to the 17, marking his second-longest run of his career. On the next play, he finished the drive with a 17-yard touchdown run, his fourth of the season.

Coastal, hosting its second playoff game, wins its first home playoff game – falling 17-10 to Western Illinois in 2010 at home.  Coastal, who is making its fourth NCAA playoff appearance (2006, 2010, 2012 and 2013), wins its second playoff game, defeating Bethune-Cookman, 24-14, last season in Daytona Beach, Fla. Also, Coastal improves t o 7-0 at home this season, tying the CCU record as the 2004 Chanticleers (the second year of CCU football) also went 7-0 in Brooks Stadium.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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