Coastal’s perfect season, comeback bid fall to Bucs

ccufoot-15sweepCoastal Carolina’s comeback bid and undefeated season came to an end Saturday at Charleston Southern, with the No. 3 Chanticleers (10-1) suffering a 31-26 loss for their first defeat of the season to the No. 16 Buccaneers (10-1).

Coastal Carolina scored 20 unanswered points in the second half, but #16/18 Charleston Southern was able to run the final 6:07 off the clock to secure a 31-26 victory over the #3/5 Chanticleers Saturday afternoon before a record crowd of 6,135 at Buccaneer Field. Coastal drops to 9-1 overall and 3-1 in the Big South while the Bucs improve to 10-1, 3-0.

The Chanticleers were without the services of Walter Payton Award candidate Lorenzo Taliaferro for all but a few plays in the second half. The senior did gain 83 yards on 14 first-half carries.

In his absence, Alex Ross completed 13-of-18 passes for 182 yards and a score in the second half while adding a 10-yard rushing score. For the game he was 17-of-29 for 242 yards but was sacked a season-high four times. Matt Hazel was Ross’ top target, hauling in nine passes for 132 yards. The senior is now has 155 career receptions, just five shy of tying Jerome Simpson (161) for the CCU all-time lead.

The Buccaneers ran for 323 yards, the most allowed by a CCU defense this season, and tallied 516 yards of total offense. However, the key to the win, CSU, which entered the game second in the nation in time of possession, held a 40:32 to 19:26 advantage in the category.

Charleston Southern struck early, forcing Coastal to go three-and-out on offense and scoring on its first offensive possession. Mike Holloway had a15-yard run and two plays later Danny Crogan hit Larry Jones for a 20-yard score and 7-0 lead. The Bucs forced a second three-and-out on defense and moved into scoring position before setting for 37-yard Mark Deboy field goal to take a 10-0 advantage.

Taliaferro took over on CCU’s fourth drive with runs of 6, 23, 22 and 6 yards to set-up a 21-yard Alex Catron field goal. De’Angelo Henderson added an 11-yard run in the drive as CCU cut its deficit to seven, 10-3.

Charleston Southern quickly regained the momentum, running a reverse handoff on the ensuing kickoff and gaining 57 yards to the Coastal 40. Six plays later, Kyle Copeland hit Halloway for a 20-yard score to put the Bucs up 17-3.

The Bucs made it 24-3 with 5:32 left in the first half as Christian Reyes capped a nine-play, 66-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run.

Coastal got inside the CUS 10, but two penalties on fourth down conversion try forced Coastal to kick a field goal. Catron set a school record with a 50-yard field goal, which hit the left upright and dropped over the cross bar to make the score 24-6 with just over two minutes to go in the first half.

The Bucs took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 75 yards in seven plays, thanks to a 35-yard Crogan to Kevin Glears pass and capped by Reyes’ three-yard rushing score.

The Chants quickly struck back, driving 76 yards in 1:19. Ross completed passes of 12 and 27 yards and ran for a 10-yard score to make the score 31-13. Then after forcing a punt, the CCU offense only need ed 1:19 and five plays to cover 91 yards, thanks a 42-yard Henderson TD run to make the score 31-19.

Coastal made it 20 unanswered and a five-point game, 31-26, with six minutes to play as Ross engineered an impressive drive, completing 5-of-6 passes for 61 yards. One of the passes converted a fourth down and the last was a nine-yard TD to Thomas Pauciello.

However, CSU converted a key third down and recorded a total of three first downs to run the final 6.07 off the clock and earn the win.

Coastal Carolina will return to Brooks Stadium next Saturday (Nov. 16) to host Presbyterian for final home regular-season game of the season. Prior to the game CCU will honor its senior class.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletcs

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