Chants use goal-line stand, long drive to beat Bulldogs

Coastal Carolina All-American linebacker Quinn Backus returned a blocked field goal 56 yards and Lorenzo Taliaferro capped a 99-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown as the #21 Chanticleers scored 15 unanswered points en route to a 27-20 victory at South Carolina State in the teams’ 2013 season opener at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.

Backus, who finished with a team-high 10 tackles, scored his first career touchdown after LaDarius Hawthorne blocked a field goal. Taliaferro finished with 23 rushes for 151 yards and two scores – one on the ground and a three-yard receiving TD. The 23 rushes ties for 4th on the CCU single-game list and the 151 yards ties Mike Tolbert for eighth on the single-game list – the most since Tommy Fraser had 157 yards versus Presbyterian in 2009.

Chanticleer sophomore quarterback Alex Ross was 21-of-33 for 162 yards and a score.

Coastal broke the ice, scoring one its second drive. The Chanticleers took advantage of two pass interference calls and 36 rushing yards by Taliaferro to get inside the Bulldog 10. Facing third and goal from the three, Ross hit Taliaferro in the right flat for a touchdown. The two-point try failed for a 6-0 lead.

After the teams exchanged punts, the Bulldogs got a 28-yard punt return from Stephen Murphy to give his team the ball on Coastal’s 34. SC State converted a 4th-and-1 despite quarterback Richard Cue bobbling the snap. One play later, Cue kept the ball on a read option and scored from 11-yards out. The Bulldogs also failed on a two-point play to tie the game at 6-6.

Coastal responded with a 10-play drive that ended with a 36-yard field goal from Alex Catron to give the Chants a 9-6 advantage. SC State came right back with a 10-play scoring drive, capped by a 25-yard Justin Taylor run for a 13-9 lead.

Late in the second half, Coastal was forced to punt. However, on the play, the ball hit a SC State player and Coastal’s snapper Shane Ballard recovered the ball on the Bulldog 16. The drive stalled but Catron came on to split the uprights from 32 yards to trim the Chanticleer deficit to one, 13-12.

South Carolina State opened the second half with a holding penalty and a short completion. Cue, facing second and 14, found receiver Tyler McDonald on a crossing route which resulted in a 74-yard touchdown pass and a 20-12 lead with just 53 seconds taken off the clock in the third quarter.

South Carolina State continued to move the ball and was attempting a 39-yard field goal to take an apparent 11-point lead. However, Hawthorne blocked the attempt and Backus scooped the ball and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown. Dalton Demos came one to convert the 2-point play to tie the game at 20-20.

Undaunted, the Bulldogs took the ensuing kickoff and marched 68 yards in 13 plays, converting a short 4th-and-1 inside the CCU five. However, the Chanticleer defense stood strong and forced a turnover on downs. First, the Bulldogs tried a trick play, but sixth-year senior Dominique Whiteside sniffed it out and forced an incomplete pass. Two plays later on 4th and goal from the one, Richie Sampson bit Taylor in the backfield and the Bulldogs came up one yard short.

Coastal rode the momentum as Taliaferro burst up the middle for a 14-yard gain. Then, on third down, Tyrell Blanks caught a short pass and broke two tackles to convert a first down. The Chants would go on to score on a 1-yard Taliaferro run to cap a 16-play, 99-yard drive for a 27-20 lead.

The drive marked just the third covering 99-yards in this CCU’s 11th-year of football and Ross has engineered two – duplicating the feta in his lone start last season at Gardner-Webb. Also, the 16-plays marks the second-longest amount of plays in a drive in CCU history.

The CCU defense came up big one final time as Colton Blackburn sacked Cue on a 4th-and-11 with 2:24 left. Coastal ran out the clock to secure the win.

Coastal improves to 3-0 over South Carolina State, 15-1 versus teams from the MEAC and 6-5 in season openers. Also, Coastal improves to 3-4 when opening the season on the road – getting its first win on the road to start the season since defeating Elon 17-10 in 2005.

Coastal will play its 2013 home opener next week, hosting Furman at 6 pm.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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