Coastal captures program’s first No. 1 national ranking

Coastal Carolina North Dakota St FootballFor the first time in both Big South and Coastal Carolina histories, an athletics program has ascended to the top spot in a national poll as the Chanticleer football program is ranked #1 in this week’s FCS Coaches poll, receiving 20 of a possible 26 first-place votes.

The Chanticleers also moved up one spot to #2 in The Sports Network national media poll, receiving 55 of a possible 157 first-place votes. Overall, Coastal received the second-most, first-place votes in the media poll and tallied 3,747 total points. The nation’s new #1 – New Hampshire – received 70 first-place votes and a total of 3,800 points. Also receiving first-place votes were #3 Jacksonville State (13 first-place votes) and #4 North Dakota State (19 first-place votes).

While this is the first time Coastal Carolina has reached #1, it is not the first time the Chanticleers have received consideration for the top spot. In week two of the 2005 season, the Chanticleers upset then #1 and defending national champion James Madison. Coastal received one first-place vote in The Sports Network poll after that win and ultimately came in at #17 by the media and #15 by the coaches.

Coastal Carolina has been ranked among the nation’s top five in each week of the regular season this year – starting at #7 in the preseason. Coastal moved to a previous program-best #2 in the Coaches poll after a 43-22 win over Charleston Southern. The Chants have held the #3 spot in the media poll for five of the last seven weeks.

Ross, Abercrombie honored

For the second consecutive week and third time in a six-game span, Coastal Carolina quarterback Alex Ross (Alpharetta, Ga./Buford HS) was selected as the Choice Hotels Big South Football Offensive Player of the Week.

The league also announced Monday that Chanticleer running back Osharmar Abercrombie (Greenwood, S.C./Emerald HS) was named The Crons Brand Big South Football Freshman of the Week.

Playing just three quarters in a 59-34 win at Charlotte, Ross tied his own CCU single-game record with 426 yards of total offense while, for the second consecutive week, established a career high with 370 passing yards. (Note, Ross also had 426 yards of total offense Sept. 27 in a win versus Elon and he threw for a then career-best 351 yards Nov. 1 at Gardner-Webb.) Also, Coastal Carolina rolled up a school-record 690 yards of total offense – the fourth-best total in league history and just five yards shy of the league record – as the Chants set or tied seven school single-game records.

Ross was 27-of-37 passing and rushed nine times for 56 yards with two scores. He led scoring drives of 99 and 94 yards. On CCU’s first drive, Ross converted two 3rd-and-long situations – one with CCU on its own one-yard line – that eventually resulted in a 7-0 lead. On Coastal’s third scoring drive, he had three rushes for 27 yards, followed by 3-of-3 passing for 47 yards on Coastal’s fourth scoring drive.  Ross started the third quarter with completions of 11 and 20 yards before running a career-long, 41-yard touchdown.  He was 6-of-6 passing for 75 yards in his final scoring drive of the day.

Over the last six games, Ross is completing 68.2 percent of his passes and averaging 299.7 passing yards per game with 12 touchdowns and one interception while averaging 354.7 yards of total offense per game. He has tallied at least 300 yard of total offense four times in the six-game span and six times this season.

In just 25 starts and 31 career games, Ross is third on the CCU career lists for passing yards (6,115), attempts (707) and completions (462). He needs just 246 yards to pass Zach MacDowall for second in the CCU career passing list and 484 to pass Tyler Thigpen for first. Ross is on pace to shatter the CCU career records for completion percentage (65.3, 2nd is 64.2) and efficiency (155.2, 2nd is 142.2).

Abercrombie had his best game as a Chanticleer, rushing 13 times for 62 yards – with no negative yards – for an average of 4.8 yards per carry. He added rushing touchdowns of one yard and four yards, which helped CCU tie a school record with seven rushing TDs in a game. In addition, six of his 13 rushes went for a first down or touchdown.

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