Hillary throws five TDs as Chants earn playoff shot

After missing last week’s game with an injury, Coastal Carolina quarterback Aramis Hillary tied a school and Big South record with five touchdown passes – all in the first half and two to Matt Hazel – and finished with 261 yards passing, while Marcus Whitener added 143 rushing yards and two scores, in the Chanticleers’ 65-7 win at Presbyterian (2-8, 0-5 Big South).

Coastal (6-4, 4-1 Big South)also earned a shot at the Big South’s automatic berth to the FCS playoffs after Liberty upset Stony Brook 28-14 to create a three-way tie atop the league. If the Chants win next week against Charleston Southern and Liberty wins its game against VMI, Coastal will win the tiebreaker and the Big South regular-season title.

Coastal established a school record with 44 points in the first half, the most since scoring 42 in the first half versus Savannah State in 2006. The 65 total points would finish fourth on the CCU school list. Coastal also posted single-game top 10 performances in total offense (second with 625), most all-purpose yards (second with 752), nine touchdowns (third-tied with 9), rushing yards (fourth with 365) and average yards per play in total offense fourth-tied with 8.8).

Over the last two weeks, Coastal has amassed 1,221 yards of total offense. Including the 625 today, Coastal had 596 last week at Gardner-Webb with back-up quarterback Alex Ross at the reigns, which now ranks third on the CCU’s single-game list.

Hillary, who played only the opening series of the second half without a pass attempt, completed his first nine passes of the game and finished the contest by completing 19-of-22 passes for his 261 yards – 23rd on the CCU single-game list – and five scores with his first interception in 190 attempts. He added 81 rushing yards came on seven carries for an average of 11.6 per attempt.

Whitener, who had three carries for six yards in the first half, turned in the ninth-best single-game rushing total with his 143 yards. He averaged 11.0 yards on his 13 carries with TDs of four and 61 yards. He helped Coastal rush for over 200 yards for the fifth straight week, tying a CCU record set in 2004. Hazel led all receivers with six catches for 78 yards.

Coastal took the opening kickoff and scored in nine plays. Hillary had an 11-yard rush early and was 6-of-6 passing on the drive, including a 10-yard shuttle pass to senior Kenny Jones. It marked Jones’ second career TD and his first since his freshman season. Coastal followed with a successful two-point play as holder Austin Cain completed a jump pass to Thomas Pauciello.

On the Blue Hose’s first drive, Coastal forced a three-and-out. On the punt, Coastal would have had the ball on the 41. However, PC elected to punt again after a running into the kicker penalty on Coastal. The second Presbyterian punt was a booming 50-yard effort. Niccolo Mastromatteo caught the ball on his own 13 yard line, escaped four tacklers and out-ran the coverage for an 87-yard touchdown. The return tied for the second-longest punt return in CCU history (as Mastromatteo owns the record for longest punt return with a 91-yarder in 2010) and ties for the third-longest scoring play in CCU history.

Presbyterian began to move the ball midway through the first quarter, reaching the CCU 24, but the Blue Hose missed a 41-yard field goal. The Chants wasted no time putting their third score on the board. Hillary had a 28-yard run and, three plays later, hit Hazel for a 23-yard score to give the Chants a 22-0 lead.

After an interception to start the second quarter, Presbyterian got on the board for its lone score, trimming its deficit to 22-7, with a 56-yard Kaleb Griffin pass to Jordan Hallums.

The Chants answered right back, putting eight points on the board in five plays and just over two minutes. Hillary hit David Duran down the left sideline for a 43-yard score. The TD was Duran’s second of the season and fifth of his career. Cain then took the direct snap and ran the ball in for a two-point conversion for a 30-7.

On PC’s ensuing drive, Dontavais Johnson forced and Jamel Davis recovered a fumble. Two plays later, Hillary went down the left sideline again to throw a 50-yard score to DeMario Bennett to put Coastal on top 37-7.

Coastal ended the half with Hillary hitting Hazel for an 11-yard touchdown, the fifth score through the air in the half for a 44-7 advantage at the break.

Coastal forced a punt to open the third quarter and were fortunate not to have a safety after muffing the punt and the ball going out-of-bounds in the end zone. Undeterred, Coastal turned to Whitener as he carried the ball six times for 65 yards, including a 44 yarder to start the drive and a four-yard touchdown to end the drive.

The Blue Hose were driving on the following possession until Mike McClure picked off a pass on the PC 11. This offensive series for CCU, Whitener accounted for all four plays and all 72 yards vie the run, including a 61-yard touchdown. Grant Clayton’s point after made the score 58-7.

In the fourth quarter, Alex Ross milked the game clock each snap and capped 13-play, 55-yard drive with 10-yard touchdown. The drive consumed 8:06, which is the second-longest in terms of time in school history. (CCU had a drive take 8:28 off the clock at Clemson in 2009.)

Coastal Carolina will return home for the 2012 regular-season finale, hosting Charleston Southern. Kickoff is set for 3:30 pm and the game will be telecast on MASN. Prior to the game, Coastal will honor is 2012 season class.

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