Coastal pulls out another close victory over Furman

ccufoot-De'Angelo Henderson at Furman 2 (Gasque)De’Angelo Henderson accounted for 224 yards (a career-high 129 receiving and 95 rushing), Alex Ross threw for 328 yards and two scores while Devin Brown set a Big South record for most kick returns for a touchdown to lead #5 Coastal Carolina to a 38-35 season-opening win at Furman Saturday night at Paladin Stadium.

With the win, Coastal improves to 6-1 all-time versus Furman, including a five-game win streak. However, the average margin of victory in the wins is just 4.5 points and no win has been by more than seven points. Also, the Chanticleers have won each of their last five season openers and are 8-5 overall in this CCU’s 13th season of football.

Henderson’s 224 all-purpose yards is the second-best, single-game effort in Coastal Carolina history, trailing only Mike Tolbert’s 266 yards in a win versus VMI in 2007. Henderson was also just five yards shy of becoming the first player in Big South history to have 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving. Overall, Henderson caught a career-high seven passes for 129 yards – including a career-long 60-yard reception – while adding 15 rushes for 95 yards and a score.

Ross was 27-for-36 for 328 yards to mark his 14th career game with at least 250 passing yards. He added 34 rushing yards to tally 362 yards of total offense, marking his 13th such game to rank. With his two touchdown passes, Ross tied Tyler Thigpen for the CCU all-time record, now with 53 career scores through the air.

Brown returned his fourth career kickoff for a touchdown, setting a Big South record for most kick returns for a score.

On the opening drive of the game, Ross completed 5-of-7 passes for 62 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown to Bruce Mapp, who finished with seven receptions for 77 yards and two scores. The drive started with a 17-yard completion to Henderson. Later, facing 3rd-and-6 near midfield, Ross scrambled and found Henderson, who gained 23 yards. During the drive, Ross, already the CCU all-time leader in completions, moved to second on the school’s all-time list for completions, trailing only Thigpen.

The Paladins answered on their first drive to tie the game, 7-7. Early in the drive, Furman was facing 2nd-and-20 before Reese Hannon connected with Antonio Wilcox for 21 yards. Ernie Cain broke off a 17-yard run to the Coastal 40 and, three plays later, Hannon and Wilcox once again turned a short pass into a long gain, covering 17 yards. Cain capped the drive with a one-yard run and Jo Croft Holingsworth added the point after.

On the ensuing kickoff, Brown received the ball two yards deep in the end zone and raced 100-yards down the left sideline for his fourth career kickoff return. He set a Big South record with his fourth career kickoff return for a TD and ties the Big South record for longest kick return in league history as David Montgomery (Gardner-Webb at Liberty 2009) and Gerald Stevenson (Charleston Southern at Liberty 2010) each had kick returns for 100 yards. CCU sophomore holder Tyler Keane ran the ball in to make the score 15-7.

A defensive stop by Coastal led to a Furman punt. The Chanticleers were backed up to their own 10 after a punt and penalty. On the first play of the second quarter, Ross converted a 4th-and-2 with a 3-yard gain. (Note: CCU led the NCAA FCS in fourth down conversions in 2014, being successful on 12-of-15 attempts.) Six plays later, Henderson scored from two yards out. The fake PAT attempt failed and CCU led 21-7.

The teams traded punts until late in the second quarter as Cain bolted 35 yards up the middle to cut the Paladin deficit to seven, 21-14. Hannon started the scoring drive with an 11-yard completion to Logan McCarter. On the next play, Trsitan Luke had an 11-yard run and the Paladins scored two plays later.

With 1:27 left on the clock before halftime, Furman used a 57-yard Hannon-to-McCarter completion to get in scoring range then Hannon dumped the ball to Wilcox, who gained 19 yards to the CCU two-yard line. Cain capped the drive with a two-yard rushing TD to knot the game at 21-21.

To start the second half, Coastal forced a quick three-and-out. Then, on CCU’s first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Henderson caught a swing pass and covered a career-high 60 yard to put him over the 100-yard barrier receiving for the first time in his career. Three plays later, Osharmar Abercrombie bulled his way into the end zone from two yards out for a 28-21 lead.

Early in the fourth quarter, Coastal attempted a fake field goal but the run came up short. Furman then engineered a 6-play, 93-yard scoring drive with Hannon hitting Andrej Suttles for a 33-yard score. The Paladins fumbled the snap on the extra point to keep Coastal ahead by one point, 28-27.

Coastal answered with a 9-play, 75-yard drive. Henderson had a 10-yard reception, Mapp had a pair of 9-yard catches and Brown caught a key 12-yard pass. Ross finished off the drive with a 12-yard pass to Mapp. he TD pass was the 53rd of Ross’ career, tying him with Tyler Thigpen atop the CCU all-time list and second on the Big South career list.

Two plays later, senior defensive tackle Leroy Cummings brought down a deflected pass for his first career interception. Coastal’s drive stalled but Ryan Granger split the uprights from 29 yards out to put the Chants on top 38-27.

Undaunted, the Paladins drove 81 yards in 11 plays to trim their deficit to three, 38-35. Hannon completed 6-of-8 passes, including a 13-yarder, 15-yarder, a 19-yarder and a nine-yard score to Jordan Snellings. Hannon then hit Snellings for the two-point conversion and provide the final margin, 38-35.

Coastal recovered the ensuing on-side kick and was able to run out the clock to preserve the victory.

Photo courtesy of Furman Athletics

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