CCU cruises past rival Liberty in sloppy conditions

Courtesy: CCU Media Relations

CONWAY – For the third straight game, Coastal Carolina (4-4, 2-1) rushed for over 200 yards, including 99 by senior Jeremy Height, to down Liberty (3-5, 2-1) for CCU's Homecoming at Brooks Stadium.

Height averaged 8.2 yards per carry as he scored a pair of touchdowns.

Senior quarterback Aramis Hillary was carted off the field due to an injury with 7:51 left in the fourth quarter after a five-yard gain. He accounted for 200 yards of total offense (87 rushing and 113 passing). He completed 13-of-21 passes with a score. He also extended his school record to 180 consecutive pass attempts without an interception.

Sophomore Quinn Backus recorded his sixth double-digit tackle game as he finished with a season-high 15 stops including seven solo tackles and a sack. The sophomore also added an interception on the Flames' final drive to cement the Chants' victory. Junior LaDarius Hawthorne finished the game with nine tackles, including seven solo stops, and picked off a pass on the Flames opening drive, returning it 66 yards for the Chants first score of the game.

The Flames were led by senior receiver Pat Kelly who made 16 grabs for 122 yards and a touchdown. His 16 receptions broke the Liberty record for catches in a game. LU quarterback Josh Woodrum was 25-of-42 passing for 179 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. Aldreakis Allen led the Flames on the ground as he gained 50 yards on 16 carries.

The Chants out-gained the Flames 342 yards to 265, held Liberty to just 86 rushing yards and won the turnover battle 3-0.

Coastal Carolina, despite having a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, took an early 8-0 lead. After punting on the first possession, Liberty got one first down then went for it on fourth-and three from the CCU 39. Josh Woodrum's pass in the flat was picked off by Coastal's Hawthorne, who returned the ball 66 yards for a touchdown. Austin Cain took a direct snap on the point-after try and scored for two points.

The 66-yard interception return by Hawthorne was his first career pick, the second-longest interception return in CCU history and the first CCU interception return for a touchdown since Dominique Davenport's 17-yards return versus Western Illinois in the 2010 NCAA Playoffs.

Liberty answered with a five-play drive, capped by a 44-yard John Lunsford field goal. The key play in the drive was a 20-yard rush by Allen with a 10-yard penalty on CCU tacked on to the end of the run.

Neither team was very productive until the end of the second quarter due to the wet conditions from the outer bands of Hurricane Sandy. Coastal managed just 156 yards of total offense and Liberty 98. However, 87 of those 156 yards came on Coastal's final drive of the half, which marked CCU's longest drive of the season. The Chants, starting on its 13, chipped away to get two first downs. Then, facing 3rd-and-1 on the Liberty 46, Height took a handoff for a simple dive up the middle, but was untouched at the line and he out-ran the Liberty defense for a 46-yard score.

Coastal opened up a 22-3 lead with just under six minutes to play in the third. Height had a 12-yard run and a 15-yard personal foul on Liberty gave the Chants the ball on the LU 28. Height followed with a 26-yard run to the two and finished the drive with a two-yard score.

Liberty answered with another field goal drive to make the score 22-6. Lunsford drilled a 50-yard field goal, marking the third longest field goal in Brooks Stadium history.

The Chants were backed up on their own 10 and faced 3rd-and-14 when Hillary scrambled and gained 19 yards. Two plays later Hillary hit DeMario Bennett for a 41-yard gain. Hillary then gained 14 yards and, three plays later, hit Chris Presley for a three-yard touchdown, marking Presley's first reception of the season and giving CCU a 29-6 advantage.

The Flames were able to answer again, marching 75 yards in 12 plays to make the score 29-12. Woodrum hit Kelly six times for 50 yards in the drive, including a 19-yard score. The two-point conversion pass fell incomplete.

The next Coastal drive saw Hillary carry the ball on the very first play for five yards but he was unable to return to play as he was carted off the field. Redshirt freshman Alex Ross took over and led the offense for a first down at the Coastal 37 yard line but the drive would stall as Cain punted the ball to the Liberty 22 with 4:34 left in the game.

Two quick passes by Woodrum opened up the drive for the Flames as he moved the ball to the 35 for a first down. Just three plays later Woodrum looked to complete his fourth pass of the drive but Dontavais Johnson had other plans as he stepped in front of the receiver and picked off the throw. Johnson was able to return the interception 32 yards before being pulled down by Woodrum at the Liberty 11 yard line.

Three plays later Ross found junior Travis Small with a three yard pass for his first receiving touchdown of the season that put the Chants ahead 35-12. The pass also was Ross' second touchdown pass of the season. A Catron extra point put the Chants up 36-12 with less than two minutes to play.

The Flames final drive started at their 34 with just 1:46 to play. After a pair of completions including the 16th to Kelly which broke the Liberty record for completions in a game, Woodrum was once again picked off this time by Backus who sealed the victory with a a pick at the Coastal 40 yard line. Ross ran out the final 57 seconds with a pair of kneel downs.

Coastal Carolina will return to play at Gardner-Webb next Saturday (Nov. 3). Kickoff in Boiling Springs, N.C., is set for 1:30 pm. Liberty will return home to face Charleston Southern next Saturday with kickoff set for 3:30 pm.