CONWAY, S.C. – The No. 15/16 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers held South Alabama to just two field goals en route to a 23-6 win over the Jaguars on Homecoming Weekend, Saturday, Nov. 7, at Brooks Stadium.
Coastal is 7-0 for the fourth time in program history and the first time since 2015, and 5-0 in Sun Belt Conference play for the first time.
The 7-0 start has tied App State (2019) for the best start in Sun Belt history.
The seven overall wins and the five conference victories this season are the most in a single season for the Chants since joining the FBS level and Sun Belt as full-time members in 2017.
The defense was the story in the win, as the “Black Swarm” allowed just six points and 336 total yards while totaling five sacks, eight tackles-for-loss, and forced two fumbles in the home win.
CCU’s defense, which has not allowed a touchdown over the last 10 quarters, two-plus games, was linebacker Silas Kelly with 12 total tackles, including none bigger than on the fourth-and-one goal line stand in the third quarter.
Fellow redshirt senior Tarron Jackson finished with 10 tackles, including 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and two quarterback hurries, while linebacker Enock Makonzo added nine tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, and also forced a fumble in the win.
The offense, which scored below their average of 40.3 points per game, still registered 445 yards of total offense on 58 plays, averaging 7.7 yards per play, with 236 yards on the ground and 209 yards through the air.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Grayson McCall was 17-of-24 for 209 yards and one touchdown, as he connected with nine different receivers led by junior Jaivon Heiligh and his five catches for 95 yards.
The ground game was by committee, as sophomore Reese White led the way with nine carries for 81 yards, followed by McCall with eight rushes for 72 yards, and junior Shermari Jones with 10 attempts for 60 yards and a score.
USA quarterback Desmond Trotter was 23-of-31 for 243 yards, while wideouts Jalen Tolbert caught seven passes for 78 yards and Jalen Wayne hauled in five grabs for 91 yards.
On the ground, Carlos Davis carried the ball 17 times for 73 yards to lead the Jaguars.
However, most of the scoring from both teams came from the placekickers, as CCU’s Massimo Biscardi made good on all three of his field goal attempts, the fourth time in his career he has made three field goals in the same game, while USA’s Diego Guajardo was 2-for-2 on the night.
The Chanticleers came out of the opening kickoff clicking on all cylinders, as the defense forced USA to a three-and-out on their opening possession and then drove 72 yards on seven plays, highlighted by a 46-yard run from White and capped by a one-yard plunge by Jones to put the home team on top 7-0 with 10:24 to go in the opening quarter.
South Alabama answered with three points of its own on the ensuing drive, as the visitors in white drove 62 yards on 11 plays before being halted at the Coastal 13-yard line. After trying to draw the Chants offsides on a fourth-and-four, Guajardo hit a line drive kick through the uprights from 31-yards out to put the score at 7-3 with 5:06 left in the first quarter.
Coastal continued with the scoring trend on its next offensive drive as McCall completed three-straight passes – 10 yards to Sam Denmark, seven yards to Heiligh, and 42 yards to Heiligh – to put the ball on the Jaguars' 21-yard line.
After an offsides penalty on USA, senior running back CJ Marable ran for seven yards and then caught a flip pass from McCall in the backfield and ran in from nine yards out to put the Chants on top again by two scores at 14-3 in the first quarter.
Following a six-play drive and punt from each team, the Jaguars took the ball on its one-yard line and with the help of a CCU face mask penalty on a third-and-eight drove to the Coastal 16-yard line before a sack by the duo of Jeffrey Gunter and C.J. Brewer ended the drive at the 25-yard and forced a 43-yard field goal from Guajardo to cut the Chants' lead to eight at 14-6 with just over five minutes left to play in the first half.
CCU’s defense forced a turnover on downs to get the ball back to the offense with 2:29 left on the game clock which allowed the offense to drive 61 yards in 2:11 to set up a 26-yard field goal from Biscardi with 18 seconds left to give the home team a 17-6 halftime lead.
The defenses controlled the start of the second half as the first three series saw a turnover on downs, and back-to-back fumbles before the Jaguars converted three fourth-down conversions on their second drive of the third quarter to drive past the 50-yard line and into Coastal territory.
The 17-play, 68-yard drive, which took 7:23 off the game clock, was stopped on a fourth-and-goal on the one-yard line by nose tackle Jerrod Clark and Kelly to keep the Jaguars' Kawaan Backer out of the end zone and turn the ball over on downs.
Backed up to their own goal line, the offense got two first downs on passes from McCall and moved the ball out to the 34-yard line before another fumble, this time from Marable, gave the ball back to the USA offense at the CCU 43-yard line with 1:13 to go in the third quarter.
However, the defense stood its ground and came up with another big defensive stop, holding USA to just two yards on four plays and forcing another turnover on downs to start the fourth quarter.
Looking to put the game away, the Chants' offense got a 20-yard run from Jones on the first play of the drive and a 13-yard scramble by McCall three plays later to put the ball on the South Alabama 20-yard line.
The Chants would get seven more yards before a fourth-and-three from the 13-yard line gave way to a Biscardi 30-yard field goal to extend the home team’s lead to 14 at 20-6 with 10:47 left in the contest.
South Alabama took to the air on its next drive, connecting on a 38-yard pass and catch from Trotter to Wayne to move the ball down to the CCU 37-yard line.
On the next play, Trotter found an open Tolbert on the right sideline where a streaking Makonzo chased down the USA receiver and knocked the ball loose which was recovered by Teddy Gallagher at the CCU 19-yard line.
Biscardi rewarded the defense with a 27-yard field goal, his third of the game, to cap the 23-6 home win.
Coastal (7-0, 5-0 Sun Belt) will hit the road to take on the Troy Trojans (4-3, 2-2 Sun Belt) next Saturday, Nov. 14, at Noon ET. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
· Coastal improved to 7-0 for the first time since 2015 and only the fourth time in program history.
· The seven wins this season are the most in a single season for the Chants since joining the FBS level in 2017.
· The win extends their winning streak to seven-straight games this season, the longest in the program’s FBS history, and eighth-straight dating back to last year.
· CCU is 5-0 in the Sun Belt for the first time in the program’s young Sun Belt history.
· The Chants improved to 12-6 all-time in Homecoming contests.
· Coastal has now won six-straight Sun Belt Conference games dating back to last season.
· The victory is the first-ever over South Alabama (1-1 all-time).
· Reese White’s 46-yard run in the first quarter was the longest of his career.
· The 15-yard catch by Michael McFarlane was the longest pass reception of his career.
· With his first catch of the contest, Jaivon Heiligh extended his streak to 22-straight games with at least one pass reception.
· CJ Marable’s touchdown catch in the first quarter gives him 27-straight games.
· Sophomore defensive lineman Kennedy Roberts picked up his first sack (0.5) of his career.
· Bryce Carpenter recorded his first career catch in the second quarter of the contest.
· The 81 rushing yards from Reese White was a career-high.
· The 60 rushing yards by Shermari Jones were a career-high.