CCU hangs tough against Toledo, 38-28

Courtesy: CCU Media Relations

TOLEDO, OH Coastal Carolina quarterback Aramis Hillary set career highs in completions (30), attempts (47) and yards (356), tying a career high with three touchdown passes, and gave his team a 21-17 lead in the third quarter. CCU also trailed by just three, 31-28, with 8:41 left in the game before Toledo answered with a TD with 4:59 left in the contest to claim a 38-28 decision over the Chanticleers Saturday night at the Glass Bowl.

This marks the fourth consecutive week Hillary has set a career high of some statistic. (He threw for a then career-best 274 yards in week one, threw for a then career-best 292 yards in week two and completed a then career-best 24 passes in week three.)

Toledo took the opening kickoff and quickly moved into scoring position, but the Chanticleer defense stiffened to force a field goal. Rocket kicker Jeremiah Detmer's 36-yard attempt sailed wide left. Coastal's offense road that momentum and never faced a third down en route to an eight-play, 80-yard drive. Jeremy Height had a 20-yard rush and Hillary connected with DeMario Bennett on a 28-yard pass to the UT one yard line. Height capped the drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown for a 7-0 lead.

Toledo's offense bounced back to reach scoring range on its second possession. Like the first time, Coastal forced a field goal. However, this time Detmer split the uprights from 26 yards out to make the score 7-3. After forcing a Chanticleer punt, Toledo quarterback Terrence Owens opened its drive with a 32-yard completion to Alonzo Russell. Four plays later Owens hit Cordale Scott for a six-yard score to give UT a 10-7 lead.

The teams traded punts before Toledo took a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter. One play after a CCU punt, Owens hit Bernard Reedy on a 43-yard post pattern.

Coastal answered right back as Height made an impressive 30-yard kick return. After three runs by Lorenzo Taliaferro gave CCU a first down, Hillary completed an 18-yard pass to Bennett. Two plays later, Hillary faked a handoff and hit a wide-open Thomas Pauciello for a 25-yard touchdown. The play cut Toledo's lead to 17-14 and marked the first score for Pauciello.

With three minutes left in the first half, Coastal faced fourth and one on the Toledo 16 but it could not convert the fourth-down rush. Neither team could advance the ball to close the second quarter as the first half ended with Toledo up three, 17-14.

To open the third quarter, Coastal had a six-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Hillary completed a 33-yard pass to Tyrell Blanks. Then, facing 3rd and eight, Hillary completed a 16-yarder to Pauciello. On the next play, Hillary connected with Bennett for a 19-tard touchdown in the right corner to give CCU a 21-17 lead.

Midway through the third quarter, Toledo took advantage of a 17-yard CCU punt, starting its drive on the CCU 40.After converting a third-and-long, the Rockets regained the lead, 24-21, as Owens rushed for a an eight-yard touchdown. Late in the third quarter, UT took advantage of another special teams play on a CCU punt. After a 40-yard punt, Toledo's Reedy returned the ball 39 yards to the CCU 18. Two plays later, Cassius McDowell found pay dirt from six yards out to give the Rockets a 31-21 lead.

With 10 minutes left in the game, Coastal's sophomore linebacker Quinn Backus stripped and recovered a fumble on the Toledo 49. Backus and Mike McClure, who ranks among the top three in the Big South in tackles, each had 12 stops to lead the CCU defense.

Later in the drive with CCU facing 3rd-and-four, Hillary connected with Blanks for a 17-yard touchdown, the first of the career for Blanks. Alex Catron added the extra point to trim the CCU deficit to three, 31-28.

However, Toledo responded with a 19-yard completion on the first play of its ensuing drive. After six straight rushing plays to move the Rockets to the CCU seven, Owens found Scott for a seven-yard TD, making the score 38-28 with 4:59 left to provide what proved to be the final outcome.

Coastal's touchdown on its opening drive marked the program's second versus an NCAA FBS team. In 2008, Coastal fell 66-10 at #22 Penn State. In four subsequent games versus FBS programs, Coastal had only managed a field goal, which came at Clemson in a 49-3 loss in 2009. Coastal was shutout at Kent State (18-0 in 2009), at #25 West Virginia (31-0 in 2010) and at Georgia (59-0 in 2011).

Coastal scored a touchdown on its opening drive for the third straight game. In the 2012 opener versus North Carolina A&T, Coastal threw an interception on its opening drive before scoring TDs on its following two drives of the game.