Coastal’s Hillary, teammates earn league, national honors

After throwing five touchdowns in a 65-7 win at Presbyterian College this past Saturday, Coastal Carolina senior Aramis Hillary was named the Big South Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week as well as the National Performer of the Week and National Quarterback of the Week by CollegeFootballPerformance.com.

Niccolo Mastromatteo was selected the CollegeFootballPerformance.com National Punt Returner of the Week. Other honors bestowed include Hillary being named Big South Offensive Player of the Week by CollegeSportsMadness.com and CollegeFootballPerformance.com naming Marcus Whitener honorable mention running back of the week and David Duran honorable mention tight end of the week.

Aramis Hillary, who receives the Big South weekly award for the third time this season, completed 19-of-22 passes for 261 yards, tied the CCU and Big South record with five passing touchdowns, rushed seven times for 81 yards (11.6 per carry) and accounted for 342 yards of total offense. Those number are more impressive considering most of those statistics came in the first half as Hillary only played one series, handing the ball off seven times and rushing once for eight yards, in the third quarter before taking the rest of the game off.

After missing the previous week to rest an injury, Hillary returned to the lineup to throw a TD in 11 straight games – one shy of the CCU record. His 261 passing yards ranks 23rd on the CCU single-game chart and his 342 yards of total offense helped CCU roll up 625 for the game – the second-best single-game total in CCU history. Hillary started the game completing 9 of his first 10 passes for 74 yards, including a 7-yard TD to Kenny Jones and a 23-yard TD to Matt Hazel.

On the first play of the second quarter, he did throw an interception, but it was his first in a CCU record 190 consecutive attempts that spanned 23 quarters (5.75 games) dating back to the last drive of the first quarter versus Eastern Kentucky (Sept. 15). From that point, Hillary completed 10 of his last 11 for 187 yards with TD passes of 43 yards to David Duran, 50 yards to DeMario Bennett and 11 yards to Hazel.

The 81 rushing yards was Hillary’s third-best single-game effort of his career, six yards shy of his season-best 87-yard effort in his last start before leaving the Liberty game with his injury. He averaged 11.6 yards per carry against the Blue Hose, thanks to runs of 11, 28, 19, 8, 6, 1 and 8 yards. In the first half alone, CCU had 410 yards of total offense in 43 plays with Hillary accounting for 334 of those yards in 28 plays. Coastal was additionally 7-of-7 on third downs with Hillary in the game.

Niccolo Mastromatteo had three punt returns for 93 yards, including 87-yard punt return for a touchdown versus the Blue Hose. The junior gave Coastal a 15-0 lead with 10:03 to play in the first quarter after returning a punt 87 yards for a touchdown. The return ties for the third-longest return in Big South history and ties for second in the CCU record book. (NOTE: Mastromatteo owns the Big South and CCU record with a 91-yard punt return during the 2010 season). The 87-yard return also ties for third on the CCU list for longest scoring plays in CCU history.

Already the Big South career leader in returns, now with 60, Mastromatteo became the Big South career leader in punt return yards at PC, now with 536, passing Liberty’s Wynton Jackson 52 from 2003-07. Over the past two weeks, Mastromatteo has scored an 81-yard touchdown via pass reception – the longest pass play in CCU history – and scored an 87-yard TD via punt return.

Marcus Whitener, a senior running back from Jonesville, S.C. (Union County HS), has been a force since his return from injury. He had 13 carries for 143 yards with two touchdowns in the win at Presbyterian despite playing in just four offensive series. The 143 rushing yards is the best by a CCU back this season and ninth-best in CCU history. He only had three rushes for six yards late in the second quarter before exploding for 137 rushing yard in the second half on 10 carries.

With CCU up 44-7 to start the third, Coastal went to a ground attack in the second half. On CCU’s first drive of the third quarter, Whitener carried the ball six times for 65 yards during the 8-play, 80-yard TD drive. He had a 44-yard rush to start the drive and a 4-yard TD to cap it. On CCU’s second drive of the third quarter, Whitener carried the ball all four times during the 4-play, 72-yard TD drive, including runs of 4, 6, 1 and 61 yards.

Whitener was to contend for the starting job, but he suffered an injury in his only series in the season opener forcing him to miss the next five games. After seeing mop-up duty at VMI, with 7 carries for 45 yards (6.4 avg.) and sitting out the Liberty win, Whitener took over the Gardner-Webb game in fourth quarter, gaining a team-best 79 yards on six carries (13.2 avg) with two TDs. Over his last two games, Whitener has gained 222 on 19 carries with 4 TDs and an average of 11.7 yards per carry.

David Duran, who has showcased his blocking skills to play a key role in the Chants gaining at least 200 rushing yards in each of the last four games, reminded everyone why he is the Big South all-time leader in receptions (64) and receiving yards (901) by a tight end. The sixth-year senior hauled in a pass and made some nifty moves to keep his balance to score a 43-yard touchdown, giving Coastal a 30-7 lead.

Coastal Carolina, which can win its fifth Big South Football Championship with a victory Saturday, will honor its 2012 senior class this weekend prior to the 3:30 pm kickoff with Charleston Southern, a game that will be televised on MASN. This year’s class includes Akeem Wesley, Aramis Hillary, Dontavais Johnson, Tre Henderson, Kenny Jones, Jamel Davis, David Duran, Jeremy Height, Marcus Whitener, Andrae Jacobs, Chris Thomas, Pat Williams, Chris Presley, Adrian Sullivan, Dominique Whiteside, Johnny Hartsfield and Quinton Davis.

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