From Coastal Carolina University
CONWAY, SC – Matt Barr's five-yard touchdown run with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter broke a 10-10 tie and propelled Western Illinois to a 17-10 win over Coastal Carolina Saturday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Division I Championship playoffs from Brooks Stadium.
The Leathernecks started the game-winning drive on their own 19-yard line and threw two incomplete passes on the first two plays, but Barr kept the drive alive on third down by scampering for 11 yards and a Western Illinois first down. Running back Caulton Ray followed with a 24-yard run and a one-yard run before Bryce Flowers ripped off a 38-yard run to put the Leathernecks at the Coastal seven-yard line. Three plays later, Barr raced into the endzone for his second rushing touchdown of the game.
Coastal Carolina had one final opportunity to send the game into overtime and ultimately put together what appeared to be the game-tying drive. Quarterback Zach MacDowell drove the Chanticleers down the field in nine plays, highlighted by a 17-yard run to the WIU four-yard line. On the ensuing play, however, Kieron James intercepted MacDowell on the goal line to preserve the win for the Leathernecks.
MacDowell finished the game 21-for-39 for 292 yards, while Barr threw for 233 yards and completed 13-of-29 passes. MacDowell and Eric O'Neal paced the Chants with 71 yards rushing apiece, while Ray led the way for Western Illinois with 89 yards on the ground.
The teams moved the ball in the first quarter with some success, but Coastal had two turnovers – a fumble and interception, while the Leathernecks had a two punts and an interception. However, as the first quarter drew to a close, Coastal's Tre Henderson just missed an interception on a short out-route which resulted in an 83-yard completion to Terrium Crump. Coastal's Josh Norman made the tackle inside the 10, but Western Illinois was able to score three plays later on a one-yard Barr touchdown run. Pat Smith tackled on the extra point for a 7-0 Leatherneck five seconds into the second quarter.
Western Illinois got in scoring range on its next drive thanks to a 43-yard Barr to Lito Senatus. Smith capped the eight-play drive with a career-long 38-yard field goal and 10-0 Leatherneck lead.
With less than three minutes to play in the second quarter, Coastal's defense came through with two sacks, forcing a punt. MacDowall converted a third down with a completion to Matt Hazel and Marquel Willis picked up 19 yards on completion. O'Neal got the Chants to the 14 before an interception in the endzone by Tyler West ended the first half with the score 10-0.
After a punt to pin Western Illinois on its two, the Leathernecks were able to get one first down before Coastal's Dominique Davenport picked off a pass, his sixth interception of the season, at the WIU 17 and returned it for a touchdown. The Justin Durham point after made the score 10-7. The pick six for Davenport was his second of the season, tying a Big South season mark, while Coastal now has four interception returns for scores to set a Big South mark. (Davenport ranks second-tied on the CCU and Big South season list with six interceptions this season.)
Coastal Carolina forced a punt on the ensuing drive and would eventually reach the red zone after a season-long, 25-yard run by MacDowall to start the fourth quarter. However, the drive stalled after a bad exchange on the snap and a 29-yard field goal missed.
The Chants defense answered with another stop and Coastal would once again return to the red zone after a 31-yard MacDowall to Jeremy Height completion. Like the last time, the drive would stall, but the outcome was different with Durham splitting the uprights for a 34-yard field goal, tying the game at 10-10 with 4:38 left in the fourth.
Western Illinois will travel to Boone, N.C., next Saturday (Dec. 4) to face the top-seeded Appalachian State Mountaineers.