Moglia BSC coach of year; 12 Chants make all-league list

Coastal Carolina sophomore linebacker Quinn Backus was selected the 2012 Big South Defensive Player of the Year and, in his first year, Joe Moglia was named the 2012 Big South Football Coach of the Year, as voted upon by the league’s head coaches and selected media.

Backus was joined on the league’s first team all-conference by Aramis Hillary (QB), Matt Hazel (WR), Pat Williams (C), Johnny Hartsfield (DL), Quinton Davis (DL), Dontavais Johnson (DB) and Niccolo Mastromatteo (PR). Mastromatteo was additionally named to the Academic All-Big South squad and was honored for his play as a wide receiver, earning second team All-Big South along with teammates Jeremy Height (RB), David Duran (TE), Chad Hamilton (OL) and Mike McClure (LB).

Backus was a five-time Big South Defensive Player of the Week selection and a two-time National Defensive Player of the Week honoree. Backus is the second Chanticleer to earn the league’s Defensive Player of the Year honor, joining teammate Andrae Jacobs (2010). He set the school record with 123 tackles through 11 games, smashing the mark of 116 set by Jamar Leath in a 12-game 2006 season. Backus ranks 10th in the nation and second in the league with 11.2 tackles per game. He is also 20th in the nation in forced fumbles, In fact, Backus is the only player in the Big South to rank among the league’s top 10 in tackles (2nd, 123), sacks (9th, 2.5), tackles for losses (5th, 8.0), fumbles forced (1st, 3/0.27 avg.), fumbles received (3rd, 2/0.18 avg.) and interceptions (5th, 2). In league play, he led the conference with 69 stops (11.5 avg.). One of his National Player of the Week honors came at Toledo when he had 13 tackles as CCU held the FBS fourth-leading rusher (David Fluellen) to just 25 yards. His second national weekly honor came as he tallied 15 tackles versus Liberty – as CCU held the Flames to just 86 yards rushing – with an interception, 1.5 TFL, a sack and a forced fumble. Backus ended season with a career-high 16 tackles versus Charleston Southern with two TFL, a forced fumble and an interception.

Moglia, one of 20 finalists for the Eddie Robinson FCS National Coach of the Year Award, led Coastal Carolina to a share of the Big South Championship, along with Stony Brook and Liberty, and the Chanticleers earned the Big South Conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. Coastal finished with 7-4 record despite playing of the nation’s most difficult non-conference schedules that included consecutive games versus #21 Eastern Kentucky, an 8-3 and formerly #23-ranked in the FBS Toledo and #7 Appalachian State as well as opening league play versus #10 Stony Brook. Coastal ranks among the nation’s top 25 in rushing offense, passing offense and scoring offense. The Chants set a Big South record by winning five consecutive games by 20-plus points and set a CCU record by rushing for over 200 yards in six straight contests. Following up on a promise to make Coastal’s special teams a game-changing unit, Coastal ranks  19th nationally in punt returns, 30th in kickoff returns and has converted 6-of-6 two-point attempts as well as blocking three kicks and returning two interceptions 100 yards for defensive two-point plays, which ties an NCAA Record.

Hillary was a three-time Big South Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week and National Performer of the Week once. He led the Big South and ranked 23rd in the nation in total offense (261.7 avg.) and ranks second in the Big South, 22nd in the nation, in pass efficiency (142.31). Hillary now owns the CCU top two spots on the season completion percentage list as his 64.4 this year is second to his 65.5 last season. He is the CCU career leader in both completion percentage (64.3) and pass efficiency (141.8). In addition to his passing, Hillary finished the regular season second on the team and ninth in the league in rushing (48.40). He set a CCU record with a streak of 190 pass attempts without an interception and threw a touchdown pass in 11 straight games, missing Tyler Thigpen’s record by one game. Hillary threw for 356 yards, completing 30-of-47 passes to set CCU records in both categories, at Toledo in a 10-point loss. He tied a CCU and Big South record by throwing five touchdown passes in a game, playing just one half and one series in the third quarter at Presbyterian. He ended season rushing for a career-high 115 yards to secure Coastal’s Big South title. Hillary threw for 200-plus yards six times and completed 20-plus passes to five different receivers, including two with at least 40.

Hazel, after earning second team honors as a sophomore last season, improved on his numbers this season. His 49 receptions ranks second on the CCU season top 10, while his 615 yards is third (trails Jerome Simpson in both categories). He ranks third in the league and 88th in the nation in receptions per game (4.45), whole ranking fourth in the league and 100th in the nation in receiving yards (55.91). Hazel recorded seven catches for 128 yards in a win at Furman, six catches for 98 yards versus Stony Brook and caught a pair of touchdown passes at Presbyterian. Hazel caught at least six passes in a game five times and ranks third on the CCU career lists for receptions (101) and receiving yards (1,379) while ranking second in receiving touchdowns (16).

Williams started all 11 games this season, has started 25 straight and 32 of his 40 games played over his career. The anchor and leader for Coastal’s front five, he is the team’s lone senior offensive lineman. Williams had a grade of 91% for the season, the highest by a CCU lineman over the last three years, thanks to a team-best 57 knock-down blocks and allowing just one sack this season. He helped Coastal have the second and third-best single-game outputs for total offense, coming on consecutive weeks at Gardner-Webb (596) and at Presbyterian (625). With Williams as the starting center, CCU has ranked among the nation’s top 30 in fewest sacks allowed three times (3rd in 2010 with 0.58 avg., 13th in 2011 with 1.0 avg. and 30th in 2012 with 1.55 avg.).

Hartsfield has a career-high 26 tackles this season, including 2.5 tackles for losses and 2.0 sacks, with two pass break-up and a forced fumble. He was named Big South Special Teams Player of the Week for blocking an extra point at Gardner-Webb. More importantly, he did his job up front, allowing CCU linebackers to run to the ball and rank second and sixth in the league in tackles. Hartsfield had sacks at Furman and VMI, adding a season-high five tackles in the Furman win.

Davis, who was a preseason all-conference pick in 2010 before suffering a season-ending injury, has worked his way back to be one of the top defensive linemen in the league. His 7.0 tackles for loss was third on the team (second-best total) and he ranked 11th in the league in the category. His 37 tackles is seventh-best on the team and was the best among team’s d-linemen. Davis’ 3.5 sacks in league games was third-best in the conference. He had two key sacks at Gardner-Webb to help turn the tide in CCU’s favor in the second half, added a sack at Presbyterian and Toledo and a half sack in the season finale versus Charleston Southern.

Johnson leads the Big South and ranks 23rd nationally in interceptions. He was the consensus National Defensive Player of the Week in the season opener, picking off three passes with a pass break-up in the end zone versus North Carolina A&T. He added a 32-yard interception return in the win over Liberty. Although not officially credited with a pick, Johnson had a 100-yard interception return for a 2-point defensive conversion versus Charleston Southern. Another big play on special team came when he blocked a PAT in the fourth quarter at Furman, which helped CCU only need a field goal as time expired to eventually win in triple overtime. Johnson ranks second in the league with nine passes defended, had eight tackles versus Furman and Stony Brook and ended the season with a seven-tackle performance, including a TFL, versus Charleston Southern.

Mastromatteo, who owns a perfect 4.0 in philosophy to make the Big South All-Academic team, was additionally named first team all-conference as a punt returner and second team all-conference as a wide receiver. Despite missing two games (at Appalachian State and at Toledo) due to an injury, Mastromatteo leads the Big South and ranks 10th in the nation in punt returns (12.1). He had an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown at Presbyterian to set the Big South all-time record for punt return yards (536). He also owns the league record for career punt returns with 60. Mastromatteo recorded three returns for 26 yards versus Liberty and had  one return of 20 yards to set the stage for a big fourth quarter in the win at Gardner-Webb. He finished GWU game with 171 all-purpose yards (adding 151 receiving yards) to rank eighth on the CCU single-game list. As a receiver, Mastromatteo ranks second on the team in receptions and third in receiving yards, ranking  fourth and fifth  in the league, respectively. His 40 receptions is fourth on the CCU single-season list, trailing Hazel’s 49 this year and Jerome Simpson’s 61 and 41. He was named CollegeSportsMadness.com Big South Offensive Player of the Week after catching four passes for 151 yards and two TDs at Gardner-Webb. The 151 yards is third on the CCU single-game list. Of the four receptions, one was a 22-yard touchdown and the other was an 81-yard TD to mark the longest pass play in CCU history. Mastromatteo tied a CCU record with 10 receptions versus Eastern Kentucky and, after catching one pass for four yards in his first two years combined, caught seven passes for 114 yards in the season opener.

Height had a breakout year in 2012 as he shattered the CCU single-season record with 1,398 all-purpose yards, breaking the mark of 1,166 set by Patrick Hall when he was named conference Player of the Year in 2004. Height ranks 35th in the nation and second in the league in all-purpose yards, while ranking fifth in the league and 75th in the nation in rushing and ranking third in the league and 68th in the nation in kick returns. He ranks fifth in the league in scoring. In league play, Height scored seven of his 10 touchdowns, averaged 80.0 yards per game and ranked third by averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Had piled up 217 all-purpose yards at Toledo, which is second on the CCU single-game list. His offensive number could have been more, but in three big wins, Height basically played just the first half – had 12 rushes for 97 yards at VMI, had 12 rushes for 99 yards versus Liberty and 9 rushes for 65 yards at Presbyterian.

Duran turned in an excellent season despite catching just seven passes for 90 yards. He is the Big South career leader among tight ends with 65 receptions and 910 receiving yards, averaging and impressive of 14.0 yards per catch for his career, He missed two-plus games this season due to injury. In his first game back, Duran caught a two-yard touchdown pass at Appalachian State and caught a 16-yard pass and a 17-yard pass versus Stony Brook and at VMI, respectively. At Presbyterian Duran hauled in a 43-yard TD in his lone catch then caught one pass for nine yards in the season finale before exiting with an injury. Duran has provided numerous lead blocks as a tight end in motion for CCU running backs as the Chants rank 24th in the nation in rushing.

Hamilton made the move from left guard to left tackle – switching places with two-time All-Big South selection Jamey Cheatwood – and was charged with protecting Aramis Hillary’s blind side. He started all 11 games and has a streak of 15 consecutive starts. Hamilton helped Coastal rush for over 200 yards in a school-record six straight games, all in conference play. He graded out at an impressive 87% for the season thanks to 44 knock-down blocks and allowing just 3.5 sacks in Coastal’s 338 pass attempts. Hamilton had standout games at Presbyterian, grading out at 94% as CCU tallied a season-high 625 yards of total offense and in the win over Liberty, grading out at 90%.

McClure ranks second on the team and sixth in the league in tackles (6.73). He tied teammate Quinn Backus for fifth in the league in tackles for losses (8 for minus 30 yards). While he is credited with one interception officially by the NCAA – a 17-yard return at Presbyterian, McClure had a 100-yard interception return for a defensive 2-point conversion at Furman, which proved critical down the stretch as CCU was able to force OT with a field goal as regulation expired. The junior tied a CCU record with 3.5 TFL in the season opener and he led the team with three quarterback hurries for the season. McClure had double-digit tackles three times, including 12 versus North Carolina A&T, 10 versus Eastern Kentucky and 11 versus Toledo.

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