Coastal Carolina holds off Southern Miss for 26-23 home win

Coastal Carolina holds off Southern Miss for 26-23 home win
Coastal Carolina holds off Southern Miss for 26-23 home win(Tiffany Henry/Coastal Football)
Published: Nov. 13, 2022 at 9:42 AM EST
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CONWAY, S.C. – For the second time in the last three years, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers clinched a spot in the Sun Belt Football Championship game, as the Chants moved to 9-1 on the season and 6-1 in Sun Belt Conference play with a 26-23 win over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on Saturday night at Brooks Stadium.

MORE COVERAGE | Coastal Carolina clinches Sun Belt East, will play in conference title game

The Chanticleers were outgained 365-361 in total offense, yet had a balanced offensive attack as the home team passed for 191 yards and rushed for 170 yards on the ground in the win.

Seven different Chants recorded a rush on the night led by a team-high 12 carries by senior running back Reese White, who finished with 42 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt sophomore CJ Beasley totaled a game-high 68 rushing yards, while redshirt sophomore Braydon Bennett made his season debut with five carries for 17 yards.

The quarterback duo of Jarrett Guest (7-for-14, 163 yards, 2 INTs) and Bryce Carpenter (1-for-1, 28 yards) combined to go 8-for-15 for 191 yards through the air and rushed 15 times for 19 yards in leading the offense.

CCU’s Sam Pinckney had four catches for 106 yards, marking his fourth 100-yard receiving game this season, while Bennett finished with two catches for 69 yards.

For the Golden Eagles offensively, quarterback Trey Lowe III had a career day, as he went 19-for-36 with 295 yards and a touchdown pass through the air as he connected with five players, highlighted by six catches for 123 yards by Jason Brownlee.

Running back Frank Gore, Jr. was bottled up by the Coastal defense all game long, as he rushed 13 times for 46 yards, while Kenyon Clay scored the lone rushing touchdown for the Golden Eagles.

For the third-straight game, the “Black Swarm” defense held one of the top rushing teams in the conference to under 100 rushing yards, as USM ran for just 52 yards for the game.

Linebackers JT Killen and Shane Bruce led the way with 11 and seven tackles each, while Charles Arnold Jr., Josaiah Stewart, and Adrian Hope all finished with five tackles apiece in the win. Stewart was in the backfield all game long, as he had a team-high 3.0 tackles-for-loss and 2.0 sacks in the win.

Southern Miss’s defense was able to pick off two interceptions and had 11.0 tackles-for-loss led by a trio of Golden Eagles with seven tackles apiece in Santrell Latham, Daylen Gill, and Kristin Booth.

Each team’s respective placekickers made good when they were called upon, as CCU’s Kade Hensley was 2-for-2 on his field goal attempts, while USM’s Briggs Bourgeious was 3-for-3 on his field goal attempts on the night.

Coastal struck first in the contest, as “Teal Team 6″ used just four plays to go 75 yards on their opening possession. Guest connected with Bennett for a 41-yard pass on a third-and-six one play before Bedgood took the ball up the middle for a 30-yard touchdown run to put the home team on top 7-0 with 13:03 to play in the first quarter.

After the “Black Swarm” defense got a stop with the help of a sack by Stewart on a third-and-eight, the Chants’ offense took over on the CCU 30-yard line.

The offense stayed hot, as Bennett opened up the second drive with a 21-yard rush to push the Chants across midfield. Two plays later, Guest hit a streaking Pinckney down the left sideline with an over-the-shoulder catch for 48 yards to put the home on the USM two-yard line.

Four plays later, after a holding penalty on the Golden Eagles’ defense, White ran in untouched from one yard out to push the lead to double digits at 14-0 with 7:50 left in the opening quarter.

A three-and-out by the USM offense gave the ball right back to the Men in Teal. The Chants offense nickeled-and-dimed its way down the field, using nine plays to go 32 yards down to the Southern Miss 26-yard line. Hensley made good on a 43-yard field goal attempt to add to the lead at 17-0 with 2:13 remaining in the opening frame.

However, the second quarter belonged to the visiting Golden Eagles, as USM answered CCU’s 17-0 run in the first quarter with a 17-0 run of its own in the second quarter.

The visitors in white took the ball at the end of the first quarter and drove 61 yards on 11 plays into the second quarter to get down to the Coastal two-yard line. On a third-and-two, the Chants’ Stewart and Amadou Fofana came up with a tackle-for-loss to keep USM out of the end zone and forced them to settle for a 21-yard field goal from Bourgeois with 11:41 to play in the second quarter.

The USM offense then took advantage of a Coastal interception on the home team’s ensuing offense drive, as Lakevias Daniel stepped in front of a CCU wide receiver and returned the ball to the CCU 39-yard line to set up a one-yard touchdown run up the middle by Clay with 7:36 left in the first half. Following the extra point, the Chants’ lead was cut to seven at 17-10.

The momentum stayed with the Golden Eagles, as a three-and-out by the Coastal offense put the ball back in the hands of the USM offense following a 38-yard punt by Evan Crenshaw and a CCU 15-yard penalty on a kick-catch interference call.

USM converted on a second-and-10 with a 23-yard pass from Lowe III to Gore Jr. and then scored three plays later on a third-and-11 play on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Lowe III to Tiaquelin Mims to tie the game up at 17-17.

With 4:14 left in the opening half, the Chants looked to get back on track as the offense converted three first downs, including on a fourth-and-one, to drive down to the Southern Miss 44-yard line. However, an incomplete pass and a loss of two yards on a rush ended the first half all square.

USM extended its scoring streak to 20 consecutive points on the opening drive of the third quarter, as Bourgeois capped off a nine-play, 70-yard drive, with a 23-yard field goal to give the visitors in white their first lead of the game at 20-17 with 11:14 to go in the third quarter.

After the Coastal offense’s first drive of the second half was quickly halted on back-to-back penalties, the Golden Eagles took over at the 50-yard line looking to score on their fifth consecutive offensive series.

The “Black Swarm” defense bowed its neck, as a combined sack by Kennedy Roberts and Bruce on first down set the tone for the series and forced USM to punt on a fourth-and-nine.

Starting at their own nine-yard, the Chants’ offense converted on a third-and-five on a 15-yard pass from Guest to Tyson Mobley. Two plays later, a 28-yard pass and catch from Carpenter to Bennett, coupled with a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty, put the Chants up to the Southern Miss 26-yard line.

The drive continued with an 11-yard rush up the middle by White before stalling at the USM 10-yard line to force the home team to settle for a 28-yard field goal on the 10-play, 81-yard scoring drive, to tie the game up at 20-20 with 1:51 left before the start of the fourth quarter.

Just like in the transition from the first to the second quarter, the Golden Eagles did the same from the third quarter to the start of the fourth, using a 13-play, 73-yard drive to get to the Coastal five-yard line.

The defense came up with a big pass breakup by Lance Boykin on the third down play to hold the Golden Eagles out of the end zone and once again forced them to settle for a 23-yard field goal, Bourgeious’ third of the game.

Down 23-20, the Chants went to the ground game on the ensuing offensive drive, as Beasley broke through the line for a 56-yard scamper to flip the field and put the ball at the USM 19-yard line. White would do the rest, as he would take the ball 17 yards on the first-and-10 and then punch the ball into the end zone on the first-and-goal from the two-yard line to put the home team on top for the first time since the second quarter at 26-23.

However, the point-after attempt was blocked by the Golden Eagles’ Josh Ratcliff to keep the visitors within a field goal at 26-23 with 9:20 to go in the contest.

Both teams would come up empty on their next offensive possessions, as the Chants’ defense forced the Golden Eagles to punt before the USM defense picked up its second interception of the game on the Chants’ offensive possession.

With 2:54 left in the contest, the Golden Eagles started on their own 10-yard line following the interception. Lowe III started the drive with back-to-back pass completions for a total of 14 yards and moved the Golden Eagles to the 24-yard line.

After a 24-yard pass to Gore Jr. picked up another first down and moved the Golden Eagles to the USM 48-yard line, the Coastal defense made three big plays – a pass breakup up by Arnold Jr., a second pass breakup by Tavyn Jackson, and then a strip-sack by Stewart – to end the Golden Eagles final chance.

Two kneel downs by Carpenter and the Coastal offense sealed the three-point win for the Chanticleers on Senior Night in the regular-season home finale.

The Chanticleers (9-1, 6-1 Sun Belt) will stop out of conference play to take on Virginia (3-7) next Saturday, Nov. 19, at 3:30 p.m. at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va.