Day 3: Chants win, an inside look with Wayne White

0000Local sports writer, broadcaster, and all around CCU supporter Wayne White is traveling to Missoula, Montana this weekend for the Chanticleers 2nd round playoff matchup against #4 ranked Montana. He’s agreed to document his journey for Grand Strand Sports Report. What follows is his day by day account.

DAY 3- Game Day

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7th, GAMETIME !! – POST GAME
CHANTS WIN!!  CHANTS WIN!!  Coastal Carolina’s Alex Ross got a huge first down that sealed the fate of the homestanding Montana Grizzlies and gave the Chanticleers a 42-35 victory.  Next up for the Chants is the winner of the top-seeded North Dakota State and Furman match-up.  What a game and what a way to seal the trip!  As of now, Furman trails NDS 17-7 with nearly 10 minutes to play in the third quarter.  A Furman upset may mean a home game for the Chants next week.  If not, it will be back on a plane for the quarterfinal round of the FCS Playoffs.  To answer the questions that I am already getting via texts, you can bet your last dollar that I will try my best to be making another trip next weekend!  In fact, I started working on that behind the scenes last night…just in case.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7th, GAMETIME !! – SECOND HALF
Montana open the second half with a touchdown after converting two fourth downs in the drive.  The first one came on a booth review of a called incomplete pass which was overturned.  The second conversion came on a fourth and goal from the five yard line and resulted in the score.  The Grizzlies are now down 14 points at 35-21.

Lorenzo Taliaferro blasted up the middle and shook off a tackle for a 51-yard TD run to answer the Montana score.  For Taliafero, that is his career-long run and his eighth multi-TD game, tying the Big South record.  Coastal now doubling up Montana 42-21.  The Chanticleers’ Bruce Mapp and then Alex Ross convert huge third down conversions to keep possession and run the clock out on the third quarter.  We go to the fourth quarter here in Missoula with the Chants leading Montana 42-21.

Montana scores midway through the fourth quarter to make it 42-28 and then Alex Ross fumbles the ball to give the ball back to the Grizzlies.  Coastal’s Quinn Backus answers with an interception to give the Chants the ball again with just under seven minutes to play.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7th, GAMETIME !! – FIRST HALF

Cramped quarters here in the CCU radio booth and so much for the nearly 70 degrees inside.  The windows had to come open because of the frost on the windows and the cold air is attacking!  Quick update on the game.  The Chants went three and out then the Grizzlies come down and stick it in the endzone for a 7-0 lead.  I can tell you one thing.  For a stadium that is missing about 8,000 people…this place is LOUD.

HEY, scratch that!!  Demario Bennett just shut up the same 17,000 screaming Grizzly fans with the longest pass play in CCU history.  That 86-yard TD pass makes it 7-7.

A 74-yard drive gives Montana the lead at 14-7 with 5:16 to play in the first quarter.  Just over three minutes later, Lorenzo Taliaferro scores from five yards out after a roughing the passer call against Montana.  Score now tied at 14-14.  What a GREAT crowd.  With all of the concrete in the stadium and the surrounding mountains, this place is LOUD!  And, with a big third down coming up, Montana lets the clock run out to head to the second quarter tied at 14-14.

The Chanticleer defense holds on a 4th and six play but the offense can not do anything with it.  After a punt, Montana takes over on their own 33 with 14:12 to play in the opening half.  On back to back possessions, the Chanticleer defense holds on fourth down as Montana goes for it.  Great pressure by the defense, putting tons of pressure on the QB for the Grizzlies.

TOUCHDOWN Chanticleers to take a 21-14 lead with 6:06 to play in the second quarter.  Niccolo Mastrimatteo takes a 14-yard pass from Alex Ross to quiet the crowd once again.  Ross is coming up huge so far as he has completed 10-of-12 for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Following another great defensive stand by the Chants, Ross hits Mastrimatteo again to take a 28-14 lead with 3:08 remaining in the first half.  The speed of this Coastal squad is really taking control!  Coastal Carolina’s D’Angelo Henderson with an incredible one-on-one effort tostick it in the endzone again from nine yards out to give the Chants a 35-14 advantage.  Coastal is shocking the home crowd and I am quite sure opening some eyes around the nation so far against the #5 ranked team in FCS. And….that’s the half.  Coastal Carolina leads 35-14!

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7th, 12:40 p.m.
T-1:20 until kickoff here on the frozen tundra known as Washington-Grizzly Stadium.  I have seen some firsts in the past hour.  One was the fact that the K-9 dog that came through had boots on.  You can check out the photo of him on our Facebook page.  Second is that I have become the ice scraper for the INSIDE of the press box windows of the CCU Radio Network’s boot.  I will do anything to stay in the heat!1463939_694330390606724_728792431_n

Great breakfast with Joe Cashion, Mike Cawood, and CCU AD Hunter Yurachek.  Learned a few things from the NCAA meetings last night.  To emphasis that this weather is not NORMAL for Missoula, they are hoping to be able to open half of the concession stands today but may not be able to open any because everything is frozen.  As of last night, there are no restrooms in the stadium because the water lines are frozen.  The weather is also negating two advantages that Montana had a week ago.  The fact that the weather is so bitter cold counters their advantage in that area as none of the players on the field are use to playing in anything like they will today.  Second, the expected crowd of over 25,000 is now thought to be at best 13,000.  Many here think that number could be less than 10,000.  We met a few people in the restaurant last night that said they never miss games.  Well, they will not say that after today because they all said that they could not sit through this weather.  OK, to the field for some pictures.  Back for more in a few.

DAY 2

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6th, 6:45 a.m.
I decided that I may as well go ahead and post a little something since I have been laying here wide awake for almost a hour.  I stayed up until nearly 3:00 a.m. EST because I did not want to be up at 3:00 a.m. PST.  Well, that was a plan that went wrong as it only means now that I have gotten about three hours of sleep.

OK, enough whining about my traveling sleep issues.  The flight from Phoenix to Spokane flew by last night (pun intended) as US Air’s wireless internet kept me connected to the world.  I listened to the Chanticleers men’s hoops team walk to its second straight win and carried on conversations on Facebook with six different people.  The nearly hour dialog with friend and GSSR guru Tyler Watkins helped the time fly by as we discussed..uhhh…nothing!  That is about the same thing that I say every Friday night during football season when Tyler and I are doing NMB Chiefs’ football on the radio.  I know that we talked a lot about something, but can’t remember exactly what was said.

Then, I got a wake up call of sorts when I stepped off of the plane at almost 8:00 p.m. West Coast time and got slapped in the face by 15 degrees!  I know that I have been talking about the cold, but reality will get you!  After picking up my luggage, which by the way is a huge, almost lime green suitcase that you can not miss at baggage claim, it was off to the Ramada Spokane Airport.  Great shuttle ride over as they met me right at the baggage claim and then an easy check-in.  Room is very nice and the food in the restaurant hit the spot with a big bowl of $10 potato soup.  I am not one that normally likes to eat food in a restaurant hotel but paying for the convenience not to have to step outside seemed a great idea!  So, that catches you up with me and I am going to try to sleep for another hour or so before it is time to head over and get the rental car and start the drive to Missoula!  Everyone here has confirmed what I had been told by many back home that I should prepare myself for one of the most breathtaking drives ever.  I’ll let you know about that later and try to post a photo or two on the Grand Strand Sports Report’s Facebook page.  Goodnight!

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6th, 4:00 p.m.
I had heard from many about how pretty the drive would be and it surpassed the hype.  Not much adventure to talk about on the drive so let’s get on with the arrival in Missoula.  After finding the stadium, I stepped out into frigid cold.  I had no idea how cold until I made it to the press box and Matt Hogue, the Voice of the Chanticleers, informed me that the wind chill is 18 degrees below zero.  Yep, that’s right -18…as in negative 18…as in 98 degrees colder than the 78 that some of my lovely friends have let me know that it is back in the Myrtle Beach area.

But, what a view from the stadium.  First, the stadium is awesome and then there are the mountains hovering in the background that makes the setting perfect for the second round FCS playoff game!  While talking to Matt, I found out that the team had about a 45-minute walk through and, as you can imagine, there were a lot of sprints involved.  That would be the sprints from the field to the heaters on the sidelines!

Now, don’t get any ideas that Montana has any big advantage because of the weather.  They have never played a playoff game in anywhere near these temperatures and, according to some of the Grizzlies, it has not been this cold in these parts for a football game in over 40 years.  So, both teams are on level playing fields when it comes to playing in temps like the ones that will be experienced tomorrow.  OK, more to come.  For now, down with sideline reporter Joe Cashion to grab some grub!

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6th, 11:30 p.m.
This afternoon, I joined Joe Cashion at the team lunch and got my first look at CCU Head Coach Joe Moglia in action.  Folks, I will not go into detail of the discussions but I can tell you that there is nothing left to chance by Coach Moglia.  It was interesting to listen in as the players openly discussed things that worked and things that did not work over the past two days in helping them stay warm.  It was a very in-depth and lengthy discussion that I found both interesting but also very telling as to why the Chants have seen a resurgence under Coach Moglia.  The attention to detail was far more than I have ever seen by any coach and the involvement by so many players and staff shows that there is an open policy in discussions.  All in all, very interesting.

It was then off on a personal tour of Missoula as I drove around for a while, mostly just wasting time and seeing the downtown area.  Interesting downtown area but the -18 degree wind chill had the sidewalks pretty bare.  It was then back to the motel and off to dinner with Matt and Joe.  Great steak dinner topped off with some entertainment before returning to the room.  The entertainment was provided by a student trainer and some of the football players as she played the piano in the motel lobby and the players sang along.  A couple of things were very apparent.  One, these guys are loose and ready to play.  Two, they are very focused on the task at hand.  There were a few jokes about the weather but they all seem to know that they are as prepared to deal with that aspect of Saturdays game as they can possible be.  Now time for a good night’s sleep because tomorrow is GAMEDAY!!

DAY 1

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5th, 11:30 a.m.
My wife has long said that I don’t take vacations…I take adventures.  Well, I am here at Myrtle Beach International starting leg one of this adventure and disaster number one has already been averted.  My original flight was delayed due to weather issues so making the connection in Charlotte and Phoenix on the way to Spokane looked to be impossible.  Luckily, a delayed earlier flight had not yet left and US Air helped rush me through so away I will go momentarily!  So, this first post will start with a “thank you” to the desk folks at US Air and also a tip of the cap to the TSA agents (sure they do not hear that often).  Best thing is that there was a lot of CCU support all the way through.  Great to see and hear.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5th, 1:32 p.m.
Landed in plenty of time in Charlotte, so I grabbed a bite while watching the foot race around the Charlotte Speedway.  Then I remembered I was at the airport and these people racing up and down the concourses are victims of late arrivals.  The best comment I heard was a young girl complaining that her mom was going to fast.  Her mom told her to just think of it as cardio and looked at me with a smile as I laughed.  The only one that was not laughing was the little girl as her little legs hoofed it about as fast as she could go!

After having a little laugh at the expense of some of these airport athletes, it was off to Concourse C’s gate 13.  After sitting there for about 10 minutes, it was off to gate C-4 as we were moving gates.  So, my fellow herd of Phoenix bound travelers packed up and walked back up the ramp.  After about 20 minutes there, we were told that the music would start again and the musical gates would land us at C-14.  So, that is where I sit awaiting to board the plane.  Best news right now…plane is here and we are on time!  Second best news while sitting here…I read on GSSR that 10 former Chanticleers have made the Big South Conference’s All-Decade Team!  As an Assistant AD at Coastal, I was at Coastal when some of these guys were recruited and served on the committee to hire Coach David Bennett.  Proud of these men that put Coastal on the map in the early days and laid the foundation that has me sitting here heading to Montana!

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5th, 7:48 p.m.
Trip continues with plane change #2. I just got payback for laughing at all of the people running in Charlotte. Just did some sprinting of my own and slid in just before they closed the door in Phoenix. On to Spokane!!

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5th, 8:25 p.m.
I am trying to keep these times posted as EST but man is it tough!  I will be in three time zones today so I am not sure what time it is where.  For that matter, I have no idea where I am.  I can tell you that right now I am several thousand feet above land somewhere between Phoenix and Spokane.  I can also let you know that I am LOVING the wireless internet on the plane as I am updating my trip while listening to the Chanticleers take care of business against NC Wesleyan.

OK, more on that running thing through the Phoenix airport.  I am out of shape and need to get back at it!  We landed late so it was off to the races and, as would be my luck, I landed in the furthest concourse from the one that I was departing from.  But, made it with about three minutes to spare as they were preparing to close the doors when I arrived at the gate.  YEAH ME!!  Winded but finished that race in time!  The bad news was reported when the pilot let us know that it is 15 degrees in Spokane.  OK, more later after I get settled in and find some food!

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