Record Crowd Witnesses #1 Coastal Carolina Down Western Illinois 34-27
CONWAY - De'Angelo Henderson rushed for 167 yards and two TDs, and #1 Coastal Carolina overcame four deficits to hold off Western Illinois 34-27 before a record crowd of 10,311 at Brooks Stadium Saturday night.
WIU threatened on the final drive of the game, taking the ball at its own 15 yard line with 1:27 remaining and quickly moving into Coastal's end of the field. An offensive pass interference call moved the Leathernecks back to their own 49 yard line before a 16-yard completion put them at Coastal's 35 with two seconds remaining. WIU heaved one final pass into the endzone, but Kerron Johnson was there to knock it away and secure the win for Coastal.
Alex Ross completed 15 of 23 attempts while throwing for 153 yards and finding receiver Chris Jones for a touchdown. Devin Brown totaled 195 yards on five kick returns, one of which finished in the endzone for his fifth career return for a touchdown. Henderson added six catches for 40 yards, bringing his total yardage on the night to 207.
Coastal Carolina got on the scoreboard first as Ryan Granger split the uprights from 21 yards out to give the Chanticleers a 3-0 lead with 5:20 left in the first quarter.
Western Illinois took a 7-3 lead with 7:35 left in the second quarter. Quarterback Trenton Norvell completed a 21-yard pass to Stacy Smith to convert a key third down. Later, he hit J'Vaughn Williams for 38 yards to the CCU two yard line. Two plays later, Nikko Watson scored a one-yard rushing touchdown and Nathan Knuddman added the extra point.
Coastal Carolina, thanks to Henderson, quickly answered. Henderson had runs of 11, four, 13 and 18 yards. Ross then hit Tyrell Blanks for an 11-yard gain before keeping the ball for a 12-yard gain to the WIU one. Henderson then capped the 9-play drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown, his 17th consecutive game scoring a touchdown.
As the first half drew to a close, Coastal Carolina's Anthony Chesley blocked a Western Illinois field goal to preserve the three-point lead.
The Leathernecks regained the momentum to start the second half, taking the opening kickoff of the third quarter and using nine plays to grab a 14-10 lead. Watson set the tone with a 39-yard run and Norvell connected with Joey Borsellino for 24 yards to the Chanticleer one. Watson finished the drive with a one-yard TD.
The lead was short lived as Brown received the ensuing kickoff on the seven yard line and out-raced the Western Illinois coverage down the right sideline 93 yards for his fifth career kickoff return and second of the season. Brown already owned the Big South record for most kick returns for a score and is now just one shy of the NCAA FCS all-time mark of six set by Hampton's Jerome Mathis from 2001-04.
Undaunted, Western Illinois marched 75 yards in 11 plays to regain the advantage, 21-17.Norvell found Borsellino for 18 yards to convert a key 3rd-and-8. The two later hooked up for a 13-yard touchdown.
Henderson began the following drive with a 39-yard run and backed that up with an 11-yard reception. However, the drive stalled and Granger cut the CCU deficit to one, 21-20, with a 45-yard field goal.
As the third quarter wound down and the fourth quarter began, Henderson had a 28-yard run. Then Osharmar Abercrombie's fresh legs took over as he produced consecutive runs of three, five, 10 and eight yards. Ross took to the air and hit Jones, who also had four punt returns for 88 yards, for a 15-yard touchdown. The two-point play failed and Coastal led 26-21 with 12:34 left to play.
The back-and-forth game continued as WIU scored with 9:08 left to take a 27-26 lead. Norvell and Lance Lenoir connected for 32 yards and, two plays later, Watson had a 16-yard rush. Norvell hit Borsellino for 13 yards to the CCU nine and Norvell hit Smith on a post pattern for a five-yard score.
Brown returned the ensuing kick 46 yards to midfield. On the first play from scrimmage, Ross completed a 34-yard pass to Tyrell Blanks. Henderson followed with consecutive rushes of 14, three and three yards to reach pay dirt. Coastal converted the 2-point play as Ross found Bruce Mapp streaking across the back of the end zone for a 34-27 lead.
The Chanticleers are back in action in Brooks Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 26 to host Bryant. Kickoff for the Family Weekend game is set for 6 p.m.