Eastern Michigan spoils Coastal’s season opener

The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers opened their season the same way they ended their last four games of 2018 – with a loss.

Coastal battled the Eastern Michigan Eagles until the very end, but ultimately fell 30-23 on Saturday at Brooks Stadium.

“Disappointed with the loss but I am pleased with the effort we put out there tonight,” head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “There are a lot of things we can build off of based on the effort we showed out there and we can work with that.”

The Chanticleers opened the game with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that elapsed nearly four-and-a-half minutes and was capped off with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Fred Payton to Shadell Bell.

Massimo Biscardi would tack on a field goal late in the first quarter to put the Chants up by 10. Coastal would allow a touchdown from the Eagles early in the second quarter, but a 53-yard field goal by Biscardi before the first half clock expired put the Chants in the driver’s seat going into the break with a 13-7 lead.

The Chants had over 200 all-purpose yards going into the halftime break and no turnovers. That all would change immediately at the start of the second half as the Eagles marched 75 yards down the field to take the lead with a two-yard touchdown run by Mike Glass.

Following the ensuing kickoff, Fred Payton would throw his first of four interceptions on the first play of the drive.

In less than four minutes, the Eagles had turned things around and managed to have a 23-13 lead in going into the final quarter of play.

“Their third quarter was the difference maker tonight,” Chadwell said. “They converted two third downs on us, get a touchdown and then we throw an interception on the very first play. We go from being up six to down by four in a matter of two minutes. I’m disappointed in that and how we executed certain things.”

The Chants did manage to come to life in the second half of the fourth quarter as Fred Payton found CJ Marable for a 22-yard touchdown strike to pull the Chants within three.

Marable finished with seven catches for 84 yards and a touchdown to go with 52 yards on the ground on 18 carries.

However, the Eagles would bounce back and score a touchdown on the following drive to regain their 10-point lead.

The Chanticleers did not give up. They nearly cut the lead to three again, but after back-to-back plays where the Chants believed there to be pass interference on the Eagles on both occasions weren’t called, the Chants had to settle for a field goal.

“If I could comment on that, I would say something bad, but I can’t,” Chadwell said. “It is what is in that situation. We had opportunities besides that, and we didn’t get help there either.”

Biscardi would ultimately miss the 36-yard field goal following the controversial back-to-back no calls and the Chants still trailed by 10.

“It’s obviously upsetting,” Biscardi said. “It was a short field goal, but it should have been an easy one. You have to learn from it though. You can’t let it get the best of you.”

Despite their frustration, the Coastal defense stood tall on the following drive and forced the Eagles to go three-and-out.

While they wouldn’t find the end zone, Biscardi did shake off the earlier miss and knock one in from 38 yards to cut the lead to seven.

Still, the Chants would not go away as linebacker Teddy Gallagher would recover the ensuing onside kick, giving Coastal a shot tying, or even winning, the game.

However, Payton would throw his fourth interception of the game – and the half – and thus would seal defeat for the Chanticleers.

The loss means that this the first time since 2010 that the Chanticleers have dropped a home opener.

The Chants travel to Lawrence, Kansas, next week to take on the Kansas Jayhawks.

“We are going to focus on us going into the game against Kansas next Saturday,” Chadwell said. “We need to look at what we can correct and bottle that energy, that fight that we had and just overall get better as a team.”

The Chanticleers have never beaten a Power Five conference opponent in their 17-year history. The closest Coastal came was in 2017 when the Chanticleers fell to Arkansas 39-38 in Fayetteville.

Kickoff between the Chants and the Jayhawks is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be viewed on ESPN+.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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