Coastal Carolina defeats Jacksonville State for first win of the season

Published: Sep. 10, 2023 at 1:14 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2023 at 9:26 AM EDT
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CONWAY, SC – Tim Beck captured his first victory as Coastal Carolina University’s head football coach as the Chanticleers defeated Jacksonville State University 30-16 on Saturday, Sept. 9. The game marked CCU’s 2023 home opener in Brooks Stadium.

The Chanticleers (1-1 overall) held a 10-9 lead at halftime before exploding for 20 points in the second half while holding the Gamecocks (2-1 overall) to a late fourth-quarter touchdown. CCU held a 399 to 393 advantage in total yards for the game. CCU quarterback Grayson McCall finished 21 of 29 for 268 yards with one touchdown. His lone TD pass came late in the third quarter as he hit Jared Brown, who scored from 48 yards out.

The defense was headed by Shane Bruce, who led the Chants with 11 total tackles, which tied a career-high. JT Killen and Micheal Mason were close behind with 10 and eight tackles, respectively. Liam Gray was perfect on all six of his kicks – three field goals and three extra points.

CCU scored on the game’s opening possession as it moved the ball 76 yards on nine plays in 4:08. Braydon Bennett put the Chants on the board first with his eight-yard touchdown run. McCall led the Chants down the field as he completed all three of his pass attempts for 63 yards, connecting with Jameson Tucker (15 yards), Sam Pinckney (33 yards), and Reese White (15 yards).

JSU responded with a 40-yard field goal by Alen Karajic. CCU’s next drive ended when its rush attempt was stopped on fourth and two on the JSU 38-yard line.

On its next drive, JSU added another field goal as Karjic connected from 39 yards out to make the score 7-6 with 52 seconds left in the first quarter. At the 42-second mark, a threat of inclement weather delayed the game for 44 minutes. After a CCU punt, JSU took the lead when Karjic hit his third straight field goal (28 yards) of the game. During the drive, Zion Webb threw a 35-yard pass to Perry Carter to help set up the score. The Chants lost eight yards on their next drive. Evan Crenshaw punted the ball 51 yards to the JSU 32-yard line. On third and 10, CCU’s Bruce stopped Malik Jackson after a seven-yard reception, which forced the Gamecocks to punt the ball.

CCU closed out the second quarter with a 16-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a 28-yard field goal by Gray. The Chants picked up five first downs during the possession, including a McCall to Kendall Karr 12-yard reception and a 10-yard run by White.

At halftime, the Chants led 10-9, held a 179 to 177 advantage in total yards, and controlled the ball for 19:13. McCall was 14 of 17 for 145 yards. The defense was paced by Bruce’s six total tackles followed by Mason with four stops. CCU also recorded five tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

On the second play of the second half, Webb found Carter for a 42-yard reception. Two players later, Mason sacked Webb for a loss of nine yards. JSU was unable to convert on fourth and 17. CCU then took the next possession. On third and long, McCall and Brown worked together for a 32-yard reception at the JSU nine-yard line. A few plays later, Gray kicked a 25-yard field goal to increase CCU’s lead to 13-9.

On the ensuing kickoff, CCU attempted an onside kick, which was recovered by the Chants’ Tray Brown. Four plays later, Gray kicked a 43-yard field goal to put the Chants up 16-9. CCU’s defense held strong on the Gamecocks’ next drive, forcing a three-and-out. The Chants used a big play during its next drive, as McCall found Brown along the visitor’s sideline for a 48-yard TD reception. The four-play drive went 70 yards in 1:44. McCall’s 80th career TD toss put the Chants up 23-9 with 2:36 left in the third quarter.

JSU’s next series ended when Carlos Hatcher hit JSU’s quarterback Logan Smothers, whose fumble was recovered by the Chants’ Clinton Anokwuru at the JSU 49. CCU was unable to take advantage of the turnover.

With 12:16 left in the final quarter, Brown erupted for a 77-yard TD run while evading several defenders on his way to the endzone. JSU’s next drive, which took seven plays and covered 75 yards in 2:16, ended when Smothers ran 19 yards for the game’s final score that cut CCU’s lead to 30-16 with 10 minutes left in the contest.

The Chants will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 16, when they host Duquesne at 7 p.m. in Brooks Stadium.