Sept. 14, 2013
RICHMOND, Ky. - #21 Coastal Carolina scored the first 14 points of the game, #25 Eastern Kentucky scored the next 24, then the Chanticleers (3-0) scored 37 unanswered en route to a 51-32 victory Saturday at EKU's Roy Kidd Stadium.
Lorenzo Taliaferro scored three rushing touchdowns and piled up 174 rushing yards, which ranks fifth on the CCU single-game list, on 17 carries for an average of 10.2 per carry. Alex Ross threw for 292 yards, which ties for 15th on the CCU single-game list, and three scores while DeMario Bennett had six catches for 131 yards, which ranks 10th on the CCU single-game list.
This marks the first time in now 11 years of football Coastal has started 3-0.
In the game, Coastal piled up 631 yards of total offense, second-best in school history and seven yards shy of the record of 638 set at Gardner-Webb in 2006. (NOTE: CCU had 596 yards of offense in a win at Gardner-Webb last season in Ross' first career start.) The team also had scoring drives of 91 and 94 yards, ranking 15th and 10th in school history. (CCU had a 99-yard scoring drive earlier this season and has four scoring drives of over 90 yards in Ross' four career starts.)
The game was a back-and-forth affair at halftime with the score being 31-24 in CCU's favor. Also, the total yards were similar through two quarters with the Chants posting 328 yards and the Colonels having 277. However, the Chanticleer defense made some adjustments at halftime and Eastern Kentucky only had 200 total yards in the second half, nearly half of which came on its final drive - an 85-yarder that ended with a score with 40 seconds left in the game.
Also, after struggling to run the ball last week versus Furman - gaingin just 130 versus the Paladins, Coastal had 339 yards on the ground - including 138 over its first two drive, which is impressive considering EKU only allowed 66.5 yards per game to start the season - including a week two meeting with FBS top-10 team Louisville. Mike McClure led the CCU defense with 10 tackles while fellow linebacker Brett Johnson had three tackles for losses.
Coastal wasted no time in taking a 7-0 lead, although the seventh point was a bit of an adventure. Taliaferro had a 13-yard run on the first play from scrimmage and three plays later ripped off a 45-yard rushing touchdown. Coastal was penalized three times on the ensuing extra point but Alex Catron eventually split the uprights from 35 yards out for the 7-0 lead.
Undaunted, Eastern's offense nearly scored on one play on a half back pass but the throw was just long. On the next play EKU quarterback Jared McClain had a 35-yard run to the 45. The Colonels would get to the CCU 30 before the drive stalled and their field goal sailed wide left.
Two plays after the missed field goal, Taliaferro had a 13-yard rush, followed by a 54-yard run by De'Angelo Henderson to the EKU five. Two plays later, Taliaferro found paydirt with a five-yard TD run and a 14-0 lead.
The Colonels, similar to last year, used a big play to score a touchdown. Last year, EKU used a 77-yard pass play to take a 21-7 lead at halftime. On this day, facing third-and-eight from its own 30, Eastern's McClain hit tight end Nathan Watts for a 70-yard touchdown to trim its deficit to seven, 14-7.
After forced a three-and-out by the CCU offense, Eastern Kentucky put together a nice drive, steadily marching 44 yards over 12 plays. However, on third-and-seven from the CCU 12, McClain's pass was incomplete, forcing the Colonels to settle for a 30-yard field goal, making the score 14-10.
Eastern, which forced a second straight three-and-out for CCU's offense, made it 17 unanswered with a 10-play, 76-yard drive. The big play came when McClain was nearly sacked on a play, but he escaped and gained 40 yards. McClain would eventually cap the drive, on third-and goal, with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Devin Borders.
Three plays after the EKU touchdown, Coastal completed a pass, but Tyrell Blanks was stripped on the play. Christian Albertson recovered the ball in midair and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown and 24-14 lead.
On a strange series of plays, Ross completed a 44-yard pass to DeMario Bennett, who fumbled to give EKU the ball on the Colonel 20. Three plays later, Samson Baldwin intercepted a pass and returned it 22 yards to the EKU nine. Two plays later, Travis Small took the pitch and out-ran the defense down the left sideline to trim the CCU deficit to three, 24-21.
On the ensuing kickoff, Coastal's LaDarius Hawthorne forced a fumble, which Catron recovered, to give CCU the ball on the EKU 32. The Chants got to the EKU seven before the drive stalled and Catron hit a 22-yard field goal to tie the game, 24-24. This marks the third time in as many weeks Hawthorne has made a big play on special teams. In week one, he blocked a field goal, which CCU would return for a touchdown. Last week, he recovered a fumble on a kickoff return.
After EKU had scored 17 unanswered, Coastal matched the feat to end the first half. With 2:28 left before the break, Taliaferro started the nine-play drive with a 13-yard. Ross then hit Matt Hazel on back-to-back passes, one for six yards and one for 28. Taliaferro would convert a short first down then cap the drive with an 11-yard touchdown to give the Chants a 31-24 lead at the break.
The Chants opened the second half with a pair of scores to take a 44-24 lead. First, Taliaferro had a 44-yard run on third-and-14. Ross finished the drive with three completions - a 18-yarder to Matt Hazel, a nine-yarder to Bennett and a 10-yard TD strike to Bennett. Then CCU scored with 1:16 left in the third quarter. After a pass interference call on EKU, Niccolo Mastromatteo laid out to make a 23-yard reception. Three plays later, John Israel out-jumped a Colonel defender and walked into the endzone for a 39-yard score.
After forcing an EKU punt, Coastal was backed up on its nine and facing third-and-seven, Ross connected with Bennett for a 45-yard completion. Following a 15-yard facemask penalty on EKU, Ross kept the ball for a 29-yard gain to the EKU two. Bruce Mapp gave CCU a 51-24 lead with a two-yard reception - the redshirt freshman's first score - from Ross.
With 3:04 left in the game, Eastern Kentucky began its final drive on the CCU 15. The Colonels drove inside the CCU five and, on fourth-and-goal from the one, scored with 40 seconds left and tacked on a two-point conversion to provide the 51-32 final.
Coastal Carolina returns to action next Saturday, hosting Hampton for Family Weekend. Kickoff is set for 6 pm.