Coastal season ends with win at Western Carolina

Coastal Carolina rushed for a season-high 279 yards and tied a single-game school record with seven sacks as the Chanticleers closed the 2011 season with a 45-21 win over Western Carolina Saturday afternoon at E.J. Whitmire Stadium.

Coastal Carolina, who had 492 yards of total offense compared to 261 by Western, closes the season with three consecutive wins and posting a 7-4 record, its most wins since going 9-3 in 2006.

Travis Small led the Chants with a career-high 109 rushing yards on 18 attempts (6.1 average), while Marcus Whitener chipped in 65 yards on just nine carries (7.2 average). CCU quarterback Aramis Hillary closed the season by completing 15-of-25 passes for 213 and three scores with an interception. Defensively, senior Dexter Holman made several key plays, including a tackle for loss, a half sack, a fumble recovery, a quarterback hurry and a blocked field goal.

Coastal took the opening drive and got into scoring position, but a sack forced the Chants out of field goal range and the team was unable to convert a fourth and 18. Western responded with a drive deep into Coastal territory, but Holman blocked a field goal attempt.

Coastal would take advantage. After Moon Edwards returned the blocked field goal to the Coastal 39, Aramis Hillary hit Chris Presley twice and Mike Limoli once while taking advantage of two Western Carolina offsides penalties to reach the WCU 15. On third and six, senior Jamie Childers got behind the defense and caught a Hillary pass for a 15-yard score.

The Chants increased their lead to 10-0 on their next possession as Grant Clayton capped an 11-play, 69-yard drive with a 26-yard field goal.

Western Carolina answered right back with a three-play, 75-yard drive to make the score 10-7. On the first play, the Catamounts ran a double-reverse as quarterback Brandon Pechloff hit Michael Vaughn for a 43-yard pass. Two plays later, Pechloff found George Richardson in the endzone for a 16-yard score.

The Catamounts would try on onside kick, but Tyler McCarthy recovered the ball. The offense would be forced to punt. However, on WCU’s first play, senior Josh Norman forced a fumble, which Holman recovered. Starting on the WCU 27, Hillary would cap an eight-play drive with a three-yard TD run for a 17-7 CCU lead.

The teams traded punts and Coastal’s Austin Cain has his punt downed inside the one yard line. Two plays later, Jeffery Salley pressured Pechloff in the Catamount endzone, forcing an under-hand pass. Coastal’s Johnnie Houston was there to intercept the pass and he returned it three yards for a pick six for a 24-7 Chanticleer lead.

Western Carolina kept battling as the first half drew to a close. After a first down to get near midfield, Pechloff launched a pass downfield with Nate Harris coming down with it for a 49-yard touchdown, making the score 24-14 at the break.

On Coastal’s first possession of the third quarter, Small starting things with a 13-yard run. After a 15-yard Hillary to Chris Floyd completion, Whitener gashed the Catamounts for a 27-yard run then had a nine yarder to get inside the WCU 10. Two plays later, Small took a sweep to the right and dove into the corner at the pylon for a three-yard score.

Defense would force a three-and-out on WCU’s ensuing drive, but two 15-yard penalties on a Catamount punt allowed Western to retain possession. The Chanticleer defense responded, forcing another three-and-out. After a seven-yard Small rush, Hillary hit Matt Hazel in stride down the left sideline for a 58-yard score. The pass play gave Coastal 38-14 lead and marked a career long for both Hillary and Hazel.

Coastal pushed its advantage to 31, 45-14, early in the fourth quarter. Facing third-and-three from the 24, Hillary lofted a pass to the left corner of the endzone. Hazel was the intended receiver but he would tip the ball and Akeem Wesley came down with the ball in the endzone for the 24-yard score.

Western bounced back to put together an eight-play scoring drive. Pechloff hit Richardson for 24 yards, Gary Green for 14 and Green for a 26-yard score, providing the final score of 45-21.

NOTES: Coastal Carolina improves to 39-4 all-time when rushing for at least 200 yards in a game … Coastal Carolina won for just the fifth time in 20 tries on artificial surface … Coastal’s last win on artificial turf was at Monmouth in 2008, while also getting wins at Morehead State in 2004, South Carolina State in 2005 and Liberty in 2005 … Saturday was the final game for CCU seniors Brooks Barbaree, Jamaul Boswell, Bryan Brooks, Jamie Childers, Dushawn Davis, David Duran (who is looking to apply for a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA), Chris Floyd, Tim Franklin, Derrick Frasier, Brian Harrison, Corey Hawkins, Dexter Holman, B.J. Jennkins, Mike Limoli, Marcs Lott, Chad McField, Josh Norman and Desmond Steward … Coastal improves to 6-3 when playing season finales and this marked the first time in program history Coastal did not close the season versus Charleston Southern …

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