Coastal weathers storm, Cajuns in Sun Belt debut

On the road for 12-straight days, which included a 10-day break in between games, Coastal Carolina overcame an early 7-0 deficit to run off 23-straight points in a 30-28 road win at Louisiana in the two teams’ Sun Belt Conference opener on Saturday night at Cajun Field in Lafayette, La.

The Chants have now won three-straight games, and improve to 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in Sun Belt action. The loss drops the Ragin Cajuns to 1-2 on the year and 0-1 in league play.

The victory is the first-ever for the Chants over Louisiana (1-0) and is the fifth win in the last six games for Coastal Carolina. The three-game winning streak is the longest for CCU since posting eight-straight wins from the end of 2016 (last seven games) to the start of 2017 (the season opener).

Coastal has now matched its win total for all of last season (3-9).

The Chants put up 497 yards of total offense and held Louisiana to just 381 yards, 50 yards below their season average of a 433.0 yards per game on the season.

A trio of Chanticleers rushed for over 68 yards on the game in senior running back Marcus Outlow (20 carries, 96 yards, 2 TDs), sophomore running back Torrance Marable (14 carries, 89 yards) and senior quarterback Kilton Anderson (6 carries, 68 yards), as the team rushed for 311 yards on the night.

Anderson, who had a career-high 59-yard scamper in the third quarter, left the game due to an injury, but not before going 7-for-11 for 104 yards and a touchdown through the air. Fellow quarterback Bryce Carpenter was solid after Anderson’s exit, connecting on all five of his pass attempts (5-for-5) for 82 yards and a touchdown.

Six different Chants recorded a reception for the contest led by senior wideout Malcolm Williams’ team-high four grabs for 37 yards. Williams has now posted a reception in nine-straight games dating back to last season. Wideout Ky’Jon Tyler (2 receptions, 50 yards) and freshman tight end Isaiah Likely (1 reception, 29 yards) each had a touchdown catch in the win.

Sophomore middle linebacker Silas Kelly led the defensive charge on Saturday night, as the preseason Sun Belt all-conference selection registered a game-high seven tackles (five solo) and a tackle for loss. Safety Brayden Matts (6 tackles, 1.0 sacks, forced fumbled), linebacker Laqavious Paul (5 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 2.0 tackles for loss), and defensive linemen Jeffrey Gunter (6 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss) and Tarron Jackson (5 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss) all recorded a sack and at least one tackle for loss in the win.

Freshman kicker Massimo Biscardi connected on a 50-yard field goal in the first quarter, the longest field goal by a CCU kicker since Evan Rabon’s 52-yard kick in the win at Idaho last season.

Louisiana quarterback Andre Nunez, who entered the game ranked second nationally in completion percentage at 78.4, was just 7-for-14 (50 percent) for 133 yards and a touchdown on the night. Backup quarterback Levi Lewis was 3-for-4 for 10 yards.

The Cajuns did most of their damage on the ground, as both Raymond Calais (5 carries, 108 yards, TD) and Trey Ragas (15 carries, 103 yards, TD) each had over 100 rushing yards and a touchdown in the loss. The duo combined for 211 yards out of the Cajuns’ 238 rushing yards on the night.

After the Chants defense forced a punt on its opening series to start the game, the first time all season, the Ragin’ Cajuns scored on its next offensive possession, capping off an eight-play, 79-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run by Ragas to give the home team a 7-0 lead with 6:13 to go in the first quarter of play.

Accustomed to playing from behind, the CCU offense used a 50-yard field goal from Biscardi to end a nine-play, 44-yard drive and cut the Cajuns’ lead to four at 7-3 with 2:31 to play in the opening quarter.

Following a defensive three-and-out, in which the Chants sent the Cajuns back seven yards for the three-play series, the Coastal offense went 76-yards on 13 plays, including converting on a fourth-and-two from the Louisiana seven-yard line, to take the lead on a two-yard plunge up the middle by Outlow at 10-7 early in the second quarter.

With time running out on the first half, the Chants took the ball on their own 32-yard line with 28 seconds to go in the half. CCU picked up a 23-yard run from Outlow, were set back five-yards on a false start, and then used a 19-yard pass from Anderson to Tyler before a spike at the line by Anderson stopped the clock with 10 seconds left on the Cajuns’ 31-yard line.

Deciding to run one more play rather than attempt the field goal, Anderson found a wide open Tyler in the left side of the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown pass. The point after attempt was no good, which sent the Chants to the halftime break up nine at 16-7.

The Chants opened up the second half where they left off in the first, as CCU’s offense used just four plays, highlighted by a career-long 59-yard run by Anderson, to tack on to its lead with an Outlow one-yard touchdown. A Biscardi PAT pushed the Chants’ lead to 23-7 with just over 13 minutes to go in the third quarter.

However, the Cajuns answered with back-to-back scoring drives of its own, a Elijah Mitchell 30-yard touchdown run and a 61-yard rushing score from Calais, to cut the Coastal Carolina lead to two at 23-21 midway through the third quarter.

The scoring continued in the fourth quarter, as the Chanticleers used a freshman-to-freshman connection from Carpenter to Likely on a flea-flicker for a 29-yard pass and catch to push its lead back out to nine at 30-21 with 9:08 left in the contest.

However, the Cajuns refused to throw in the towel and instead drove 85 yards down the field in 3:48 to close the gap to two points at 30-28 on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Andre Nunez to Keenan Barnes with 5:20 to play on the game clock.

That would be the last time that the Cajuns would get the ball for the game, as the Chants ran out the final 5:20 on the clock aided by a 15-yard pass on third-and-10 from Carpenter to Jeremiah Miller, a huge fumble recovery by Jaivon Heiligh on a second-and-21 rush and an offsides call on the Cajuns on a third-and-one.

Coastal Carolina will wrap up a three-game road swing, its longest of the season, next Saturday night, Sept. 29, at Troy at 3:30 p.m.

– Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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