Coastal works comeback magic to down Panthers

Coastal Carolina football scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and 17 of the last 24 points in the game, as freshman place kicker Massimo Biscardi kicked a 23-yard field goal with 2:54 left in the contest to lead the Chanticleers to a 37-34 come from behind win over the Georgia State Panthers in Sun Belt Conference East Divisional play on Saturday at Petit Field at Georgia State Stadium.

The Chants got a three-yard touchdown run by sophomore back Alex James with 9:46 to go in the fourth quarter to tie the game up at 34-34. After a diving pass breakup by senior corner back Mallory Claybourne on a third-and-12 forced the Panthers to punt the football back to the Chants, the Coastal offense drove 76 yards and took 3:56 off the clock to set up Biscardi’s game-winning field goal.

The Panthers had a chance to tie or take the lead over the last 2:54 of the game, however, the CCU defense came up big with a 10-yard sack from linebacker Teddy Gallagher and a pass breakup by corner back Preston Carey on a third-and-six to force the home team to go for it on fourth down.

On the fourth-and-six on the CCU 36-yard line, the Panthers went for it as Dan Ellington’s pass was just off the fingertips and out of reach of wide receiver Penny Hart and fell to the ground to turn the ball over on downs and seal the three-point win for the Chants.

The win pushes Coastal Carolina to 5-3 overall on the season, 4-2 in road contests and 2-2 in Sun Belt play. Saturday’s victory was the second-straight for the Chants, the seventh win over their last 10 games and puts CCU just one game away from becoming bowl eligible in its first year of eligibility.

The Coastal offense again just missed 500 total yards for the game, as the Chants totaled 476 yards, including 251 yards on the ground. However, Georgia State put up 521 yards of total offense on just 59 plays, including 290 yards in the rushing game.

Sophomore running back CJ Marable led the Chants with 128 rushing yards and a score on just 12 carries, his first-career 100-yard rushing game as a member of the CCU football team. Marable, who had 103 yards on the ground in the first half, also added a 48-yard reception in the fourth quarter to help set up the game-winning field goal.

Getting his first career start and becoming just the third true freshman quarterback to make a start in the shotgun in CCU history, Fred Payton was 12-for-17 for 222 yards, a touchdown, and also rushed a career-high 17 times for 71 yards.

Six different receivers hauled in at least one catch for the Chanticleers for the game, headlined by Malcolm Williams’ four catches for 90 yards and a touchdown and Ky’Jon Tyler with three catches for 30 yards and two rushes for 28 yards and a rushing score, the first of his career.

Defensively, playing in place of an injured Silas Kelly, Gallagher led the Chants with a team-high eight tackles, all solo stops, 3.0 tackles for loss and a 10-yard sack on the last Panthers’ drive.

Safety Fitz Wattley also added eight stops for the game, while defensive end Jeffrey Gunter totaled six tackles and 1.0 tackle for loss.

Punter Charles Ouverson recorded punts of 55 and 46 yards for the game in helping switch the field for the Chanticleers, an average of 50.5 yards per punt, while Biscardi was a perfect 3-for-3 in field goals with makes of 32, 22 and 23 yards in the win.

For the Panthers offensively, Ellington threw for 231 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-25 pass attempts and rushed for 70 yards and a scored. Running backs Tra Barnett (11 carries, 161 yards, two touchdowns) and Seth Paige (12 carries on 59 yards and a touchdown) combined to run for 220 yards, while preseason all-American Perry Hart caught six passes for 118 yards and a touchdown in the loss.

After the two teams traded fumbles, the Panthers jumped back out in front late in the quarter as Barnett capped off an 85-yard drive, started by a CCU fumble on the GSU 15-yard line, with a 42-yard scramble and score to retake the lead at 34-27.

With a third-and-1 on the GSU 45-yard line to start the fourth quarter, the Chants went back to the legs of Marable who ran off the left side for a five-yard gain and a first down at the Panthers’ 40-yard line.

After a 22-yard pass to Williams on a second-and-10 and a 14-yard pass across the middle to Tyler, the Chants moved inside the GSU 10-yard line. A six-yard rush by Payton set up a three-yard dive up the middle by James to knot the game back up at 34-34 with just under 10 minutes in the game.

A defensive stop and a 10-play 76 yard drive set up Biscardi for what proved to be a 23-yard game-winning field goal with 2:54 to go in the game.

The Chants return home to host Appalachian State as part of Homecoming Week on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 5 p.m. ET in Brooks Stadium.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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