Coastal’s magical season comes to a close in Fargo

ccufoot-ndsuCoastal Carolina (12-3) saw its magical season come to an end as the two-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State Bison (13-0) cruised to a 48-14 victory Saturday in the quarterfinal round of the FCS playoffs.

The game was played before 18,219 at the Fargodome and before a national television audience on ESPN. The loss capped a record-setting season for the Chanticleers, who have won Big South Championships in both years of Coach Joe Moglia’s time on the CCU sideline. After winning the program’s first playoff game last season, Coastal reached the quarterfinals for the first time.

Alex Ross paced the CCU offense, completing 13-of-26 passes for 185 yards and a score. Matt Hazel was his top target, catching eight passes for 91 yards and a 20-yard TD. All-American candidate Lorenzo Taliaferro only gained 58 yards, but averaged 4.8 per attempt, while catching two passes for 39 yards. Defensively, senior Mike McClure closed his career by tallying a career-high 15 tackles, while Imir Sanders had 11 stops and Quinn Backus added eight.

Coastal’s defense started strong, as senior Dominique Whiteside recorded a sack on the second play of North Dakota State’s opening drive. However, quarterback Brock Jensen broke off a 39-run to the CCU 14. The Chanticleer defense buckled down to force a 26 field goal, made by Bison kicker Adam Keller for an early 3-0 lead. The Bison quickly made it 10-0 on their next possession as Sam Ojuri scored a 73-yard rushing touchdown.

North Dakota State made three scores on three possessions. Jensen completed 19-yard pass to Ryan Smith and a 25-yard pass to Ojuri then kept the ball on a bootleg for a 10-yard score for a 17-0 lead.

The Bison opened the second quarter with a touchdown, taking advantage of a CCU person foul and a 23-yard run by John Crockett to the Chanticleer one. Two plays later, Jensen dove in for a one-yard score and 24-0 lead. With 2:26 left in the first half, NDSU made the score 31-0 after a four-yard Ojuri run.

Coastal’s offense got on track as the first half came to a close. John Israel made a short catch and turned it into a 46-yard gain to the Bison three. Two plays later, Taliaferro scored from three yards out to make the score 31-7 with 30 seconds left in the first half.

However, NDSU got a 37-yard kick return from Crockett and a 29-yard Jensen to Zach Vraa completion to the CCU 31. With three seconds left in the half, Keller split the uprights from 48 yards out as time expired to give the Bison a 34-7 lead at halftime.

To open the second half, Coastal’s defense forced a three-and-out and the offense responded with a seven-play, 89-yard scoring drive. Taliaferro made a nice one-handed grab and turned it into a 37-yard gain to the NDSU 25. Three plays later, Matt Hazel made an impressive catch from Ross for a 20-yard TD to make the score 34-14.

Photo courtesy of NDSU Athletics

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