Coastal’s magical season keeps rolling against G-W

Lorenzo Taliaferro rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns, Quinn Backus had a 73-yard interception return for a touchdown and Alex Ross completed 12-of-21 pass attempts for 157 yards and a touchdown to lead No. 6-ranked Coastal Carolina to a 42-7 win over Gardner-Webb Saturday at Brooks Stadium.

By winning their 2013 Big South opener, the Chanticleers improve to 6-0 overall and 1-0 in the league while the Runnin’ Bulldogs fall to 4-3, 0-1.

Taliaferro rushed for three touchdowns for the third time this season and the third time in the last four games while scoring 11 TDs over the last four. Also, he ties a Big South single-season record, joining four others that have scored three rushing TDs in a season.

Coastal was forced to punt on its first three drives. However, on that third punt, Gardner-Webb’s J.J. Hubbard called for a fair catch but dropped the ball and CCU’s LaDarius Hawthorne recovered on the GWU five. Two plays later, Taliaferro found pay dirt from four yards out to give Coastal a 7-0 lead.

On Gardner-Webb’s ensuing drive, Coastal Carolina All-American linebacker picked off a pass a and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown. It marked the junior’s second interception this season, his second touchdown this season – scoring on a 56-yard blocked field goal, and the longest interception return school history for a touchdown. (Quinton Teal owns the CCU record for longest interception return, a 74-yarder in 2005 versus South Carolina State, but he did not score on the play.)

The Runnin’ Bulldogs responded with a 14-play drive that consumed 7:04 on the clock. On the drive, GWU was facing third-and-31. Lucas Beatty completed a 29-yard pass then converted the following fourth down. Then, on fourth-and-goal from the CCU two, Coastal intercepted a pass at the goal line but a penalty on the Chanticleers on the play gave new life to Gardner-Webb. Two plays later, Juanne Blount scored from three yards out to cut the GWU deficit in half, 14-7.

Late in the second quarter, Coastal extended its lead to 21-7. Ross gained 15 yards to the GWU 28 then completed a 26-yard pass to DeMario Bennett. Taliaferro capped the drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown.

Gardner-Webb came back with a 10-play drive, highlighted by a 40-yard Beatty to Mike Estes to the CCU seven. Two incompletions and a sack by Mike McClure forced Gardner-Webb to settle for a field goal but he kick sailed wide right to keep the score 21-7 at the break.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs opened the second half with an impressive drive that covered 7:01 but it ended with Coastal’s Denzel Rice getting an interception on the CCU 22 yard line. Coastal then drove 78 yards in seven plays with Taliaferro scoring a 13-yard rushing TD to give CCU a 28-7 lead. During the drive, Ross hit Bennett for 22 yards and Niccolo Mastomatteo for 18, the last setting the 13-yard score.

Coastal opened the fourth quarter with a nine-play drive with Ross connecting with Matt Hazel for a one-yard score and a 35-7 Chanticleer lead. Ross hit Bennett for 11 yards and Hazel for 22 before De’Angelo Henderson raced 25 yards to the GWU one.

With two minutes to play, Coastal pushed its advantage to 42-7 after an eight-play, 88-yard drive. Taliaferro played a key role with a 31-yard gain then Ross found John Israel for a 12-yard gain. Travis Small capped the drive with a 12-yard rushing touchdown.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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