Chants leap to 15th in polls; Taliaferro, Baldwin honored

After a convincing 51-32 win at then #25 Eastern Kentucky and starting 3-0 for the first time in school history, Coastal Carolina moved up six spots to 15th in both The Sports Network poll and the FCS Coaches poll.

This marks Coastal Carolina’s highest ranking in either poll since ending the 2006 season ranked 14th. Coastal’s highest ranking as a program came in the 2005 season when the coaches ranked the Chants eighth twice during the year – after going 7-1 and two weeks later with a 9-1 record. (CCU dropped to ninth in the coaches poll on Nov. 7 despite a win in week nine.) Coastal’s was ranked ninth by The Sports Network in 2005 during those same three weeks (Oct. 31-Nov. 14).

Coastal Carolina senior running back Lorenzo Taliaferro was named the Choice Hotels Big South Offensive Player of the Week, while cornerback Samson Baldwin was named the league’s Crons Brand Freshman of the Week for the second time in three weeks.

Taliaferro (Yorktown, Va./Bruton HS/Lackawanna JC) rushed 17 times for 175 yards – 10.2 yards per carry – and three touchdowns in helping Coastal Carolina defeat #25 Eastern Kentucky, who entered the contest ranked third in the nation in run defense. (EKU only allowed an average of 66.5 yards in its first two games, including just 78 yards by FBS top 10 team Louisville.) The 175 yards ranks fifth on the CCU single-game list and is the 12th-best single-game effort in the NCAA FCS this season. (Taliaferro also has the now seventh-best CCU single-game effort and 23rd-best single-game effort in the NCAA FCS after gaining 157 yards in the season-opening win at South Carolina State.)

Of Taliaferro’s 17 attempts, eight went for either a first down or touchdown and five were 10-plus yards. After opening the game with a 13-yard run, he broke a 45-yard run for a touchdown to give CCU a 7-0 lead. On CCU’s second drive, Taliaferro gave CCU a 14-0 lead, scoring from five yards out. Late in the second half, he converted a key third-and-one before capping the drive with an 11-yard score for a 31-24 lead at halftime. Taliaferro finished the first half with 11 carries for 114 yards and scored three of the Chants’ four touchdowns. His last major contribution came midway through the third quarter as he gashed the Colonel defense for a 44-yard gain on a third-and-14 from the CCU 18. Coastal would go on to score and take a 38-24 lead.

Through three games, Taliaferro ranks sixth in the NCAA FCS in rushing yards per game (129.0) and he is averaging an impressive 7.0 yards per carry (55 attempts for 387 yards). To put Taliaferro’s start in perspective, the senior has 387 yards in three games this year after tallying 357 in 12 games last season.

Baldwin (Greenville, S.C./J.L. Mann HS) not only earned his second Big South The Crons Brand Freshman but a Chanticleer has earned the honor in each of the three weeks of this season as Alex Scearce laid claim to the honor last week. Baldwin only had two tackles, but made a game-changing play in the second quarter and helped CCU set a single-game record for pass break-ups (12). With Coastal trailing 24-14 and having just lost the ball on a fumble, Baldwin intercepted a pass and returned it 22 yards to the EKU nine. Two plays later, the Chanticleers scored to start a run of 37 unanswered points en route to the win. He added two pass break-ups, one in the first quarter and one in the fourth. The one in the fourth gave Coastal 11 on the night to tie the record while Pernell Williams followed with a PBU to set the record.

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