CCU’s 3 Flags over Conway worse sin than Super Safety

I wasn’t at Coastal Carolina’s late meltdown against Gardner-Webb on Saturday night that sent the homecoming crowd to the exits with a bitter taste in their mouths.

I don’t like to be critical of things I didn’t see with my own two eyes, but facts are facts.  I wasn’t at the infamous Super Safety game at Charleston Southern six year ago either and that didn’t stop me from writing about it.

That was the previous low point in the football program’s short but eventful history, but Saturday night’s shenanigans just might take its place in forgettable moments in Chanticleer football lore. It might have been more costly, but not more embarrassing.

For those who have already forgotten about the season finale of the 2005 campaign, the 9-1 Chants were just seconds away from polishing off a second straight 10-win season and making a strong argument for their first playoff berth.

Current Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver and alleged herbal-remedy distributor Jerome Simpson was instructed to take a punt snap, run around until the clock struck zero and let the celebration begin. The play was called “Super Safety,” although it turned out to be neither safe nor super.

Simpson ran out of bounds on the 1-yard line with 2 seconds left on the clock and Charleston Southern scored the game-tying touchdown on the final play. The Bucs won it 34-27 in double overtime and Coastal’s otherwise outstanding season ended with the Chants on the outside looking in at the postseason.

A dark cloud lingered over the program after that play until the 2007 senior class, the first players to commit to CCU’s upstart football program, went out with a bang by making the playoffs and putting up a solid first-round showing against eventual I-AA national champion Appalachian State. All was forgiven and, for the most part, forgotten.

But as bad as Super Safety seemed at the time, Saturday night’s three – count them, THREE – unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the final 2 minutes that set up G-W’s game-winning field goal as time expired just might be worse.

Super Safety was the result of one mistake by one individual that Coastal had two more overtimes to correct. Three Flags Over Conway, as we shall remember it, was three avoidable errors by multiple individuals that could not be overcome.

Let’s take them play-by-play, or flag-by-flag, as the case may be. First, there was the excessive celebration penalty that took place following Coastal returnman Tre Henderson’s 86-yard kickoff return for the game-tying touchdown.

Even before the go-ahead PAT, even with 1:53 left on the clock, the Chanticleers stormed the end zone like Henderson had just hit a walk-off home run. Players even left the bench to join in the festivities, so that 15 yards was generous.

Then came Coastal kicking off from its own 15, which should have been enough of a wake-up call not to give away any more free yardage. Still, one player grabbed the returnman’s facemask, which can happen in the heat of battle, and yet another hit him after he was out of bounds, which should never happen, to bring two more yellow flags to the field.

When the laundry finally cleared, the Runnin’ Bulldogs got the ball at the CCU 14-yard line with 1:27 remaining, just enough time and distance to run three clock-draining plays and boot the game-winning field goal, which is exactly what they did.

Coastal coach David Bennett was understandably livid after the game, as he should be. Bennett runs a tight ship and preaches to his players about discipline being the cornerstone of his program, then his team has three brain lapses in less than 100 seconds to lose a game.

Bennett will get his team’s attention, and this meltdown will eventually be forgotten in the annals of CCU football history. But for now it’s an embarrassment for a program that has done so many things right to be known for doing three things wrong.

As far as where this incident falls in the low moments of the program, it’s like Super Safety times three.

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One response to “CCU’s 3 Flags over Conway worse sin than Super Safety”

  1. Joe says:

    No it’s not.

    Cmon…Terry…last night doesn’t come close wiping out what happened in Charleston that November day in 2005. You were still covering us, right? Well, if not, with a simple win over CSU, where we led 24-10 under 3 minutes to go, we were in the I-AA playoffs at 10-1 and probably hosting Furman. If not them, or hosting, certainly in the postseason somewhere.

    That 2005 season saw us win 2 overtime games (GWU, Lib 3 OT), beat defending I-AA champ JMU in the last seconds, beat SC State on the road in the last seconds, battling back from double-digits in 4th quarter to win both of those games….only to see everything that team worked for go down the tubes in the final 3 minutes in Charleston.

    Last night was disappointing certainly for the mistakes but last night we didn’t lose what we did with Super Safety.

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