Football Continues Big South Action At Liberty
Heading On the Road In League Play: The Coastal Carolina football squad will play two of its final three games on the road, starting today at Liberty. The Chants return home to host Gardner-Webb next weeked before wrapping up the season at Charleston Southern, Nov. 17.
The Coaches:Coastal Carolina Head Coach David Bennett (Presbyterian, '84) is in his fifth season at Coastal with a 37-16 record at CCU and 100-33 overall in his 12th year as a head coach. At Catawba, he led the Indians to three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division II playoffs, including a run into the national semifinal round in 2001. Bennett is 3-1 versus Liberty.
Liberty Head Coach Danny Rocco (Wake Forest, '84) is in his second season as head coach of the Flames, with an 11-8 record at Liberty and as a head coach overall. Rocco lost his only game against CCU last season.
History with Liberty: This will be the fifth time that Coastal and Liberty will meet on the gridiron. Coastal holds a 3-1 advantage, having won the last three meetings. Last year’s meeting was full of drama, as Coastal escaped with a thrilling 28-26 victory at Brooks Stadium. On the road in Lynchburg, Coastal holds a 1-1 mark, having lost during the inaugural meeting in 2003, but getting another nailbiter, a triple overtime 27-21 win in 2005.
Date Game/Location Result
*11/15/2003 at Liberty L, 21-38
*10/23/2004 LIBERTY W, 33-6
*10/22/2005 at Liberty W-3ot, 27-21
*10/28/2006 LIBERTY W, 28-26
Back-To-Back-To-Back: The Chanticleers were the first Big South school to capture three league titles in the brief history of the conference. Gardner-Webb won the first two championships, while Coastal won the 2004 crown, shared the 2005 title with Charleston Southern and won the 2006 title outright with a 4-0 mark. The Chants bring a five-game Big South Conference winning streak into today’s contest and have won 13 of their last 14 league games.
Bennett Hits The Century Mark: Head Coach David Bennett isn’t one to keep an eye on his stats, but he just reached a major coaching milestone. With the 42-35 win against VMI, Bennett picked up his membership in the illustrious career 100-win club. For his 12-year career, he is now 100-33 (.752) as a head coach.
Coastal Picked to Finish Second in Big South: The three-time defending champion Chanticleers were picked to finish second at the Big South's Annual Football Media Day in Concord, N.C., as voted on by the league's coaches, sports information directors and media members. Liberty was picked to win their first Big South title, with Gardner-Webb, Charleston Southern and VMI following CCU in the poll.
The Streak Continues: In its brief history of 53 games, the Chanticleers have yet to be shutout on the scoreboard, the longest current streak in the Big South Conference. In fact, CCU’s lowest single game point total was in 2005 at Appalachian State, with just a lone field goal.
When Its Natural: Coastal has played 46 of its 53 games in its history on natural grass. CCU is 35-11 (.761) on natural grass, with its only games on artificial turf at Liberty in 2003 in a tough loss, the 2004 season opening win at Morehead State, an early 2005 season loss at Appalachian State, last year's playoff loss to the Mountaineers, the triple-overtime win at Liberty in 2005 and the last loss at James Madison, Sept. 22. That makes Coastal just 2-5 on the fake stuff.
Winning at Halftime: CCU is impressive when leading at the half with a 28-4 (.875) mark. Coastal is now 17-1 at home when taking a lead into the intermission, while posting a 11-3 mark when leading at the half on the road. The only losses have occurred in 2003 at Liberty, 2005’s double-overtime thriller at Charleston Southern, this season's losses at Furman and in overtime to Presbyterian.
Newcomers Counted On: Of the 42 players on Coastal’s offensive and defensive two-deep for today’s game against Liberty, 10 of them are sophomores and 11 freshman in terms of athletic eligibility, including six true freshmen.
Winning When Scoring First: Coastal has been a stellar team when scoring first, holding a 25-3 mark in four-plus seasons of play.
Back-To-Back-To-Back: The Chanticleers were the first Big South school to capture three league titles in the brief history of the conference. Gardner-Webb won the first two championships, while Coastal won the 2004 crown, shared the 2005 title with Charleston Southern and won the 2006 title outright with a 4-0 mark.
Daytime Can Be the Right Time: Coastal is 18-7 in day games, and the numbers are good on the road, as CCU is 9-6 in day games away from Conway.
On The Road: The Chanticleers have been a very competitive team on the road, posting a 15-10 mark in their short history. However this season, CCU has yet to record a road victory in three tries (at Delaware State, Furman and James Madison).
Coastal Football On TV:Coastal Carolina's football team will make three appearances on television this year. CCU had its only televised home game Sept. 15 when it hosted Georgia Southern, while road games at Liberty (Nov. 3) and at Charleston Southern (Nov. 10) are also slated for the tube. In its brief history, CCU is a stellar 12-4 in television appearances all-time, including last year's dramatic win over then No. 3 Furman and Big South Championship win over Charleston Southern.
Not Prone to Slides: And we aren't talking about a playground either. Coastal Carolina lost three consecutive games for just the first time in school history after the squad lost at Furman, but snapped that streak with the 51-0 win over Chowan, Oct. 13.
Leading the Nation: After the first eight games of the season, Coastal Carolina leads all of Division I-FCS in pass defense, giving up just 132.88 yards per game. CCU also ranks in the top 40 in seven other categories -- sacks (10th, 3.00 spg), turnover margin (15th, +1.13), kickoff returns (19th, 23.71 ypr), rushing offense (24th, 201.88 ypg), tackles for loss (28th, 7.13 tpg), punt returns (31st, 10.83 ypr) and scoring offense (38th, 29.25 ppg).
Additionally, defensive back Marrio Norman is tied for 11th interceptions (0.57 int/g) and is 43rd in punt returns at 9.10 ypr. Kicker Justin Durham is tied for 26th in field goals (1.25 pg), Arthur Sitton is tied for 11th on kickoff returns (29.29 ypr), while Eric O'Neal ranks 39th (24.91 ypr). Defensive end Ro-Derick Middleton is tied for 49th in sacks at 0.57 sacks per game.
Making A Career Mark in FCS: Three players are among the top-20 active career national rankings for the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision. Wide receiver Jerome Simpson is the current career leader in touchdown receptions with 39, while also ranking fourth in receiving yards per catch (17.1), ninth in yards (2,491) and 18th in receptions (146), as well as ninth in touchdowns overall and 16th in total points (234). Defensive back Marrio Norman is 14th in interceptions per game (0.4) and 17th in total interceptions (9). Arthur Sitton ranks fifth in kickoff return average (25.5 ypr) and 13th in touchdowns (1).
Third Down Conversions Are Always Key: And look at the success Coastal has had on third down to see why the Chanticleers were 9-3 last season. For the year, CCU converted on 49 percent (75-for-153) of its third down opportunities, while limiting opponents to just 39 percent (60-for-153) of their chances.
However, the Chants were just 1-for-16 in the season opening loss at Delaware State, but improved greatly in the win over Winston-Salem State, going 7-for-16, including converting a 3rd-and-30 for a 36-yard gain from quarterback William Richardson to wide receiver Trent Usher. For the season, Coastal has converted on just 32 percent (38-for-120) of its third-down opportunities, while opponents have capitalized on 36 percent (37-for-104) of their third-down chances.
Three Chants Garner Big South Weekly Awards: Coastal Carolina fullback Mike Tolbert and Chanticleer safety Brandon Autry have been named the Big South football Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week and New Balance Defensive Player of the Week, respectively, for games played during Week 9 (Oct. 27) of the 2007 season, it was announced today by the Conference office. In addition, Coastal Carolina kick returner Arthur Sitton was selected as Special Teams Player of the Week.
Plays And Games Are Ranked: Coastal has a couple of its efforts among the best in FCS this season. Fullback Mike Tolbert's 244 yards of rushing against VMI is tied for the ninth-best single game mark this year, while his 86-yard game-winning touchdown dash is the 11th longest this year. Kick returner Arthur Sitton is also on the list, as his 85-yard kickoff return touchdown is tied for the 28th longest return this year.
Tolbert, a senior from Douglasville, Ga., was a standout for the Chanticleers in a dramatic, come-from-behind win in their Big South opener against VMI, posting a CCU record 244 rushing yards on just 13 carries for a Big South-record 18.8 yards per carry and two touchdowns. In the first quarter, he had a 39-yard scamper to set up Coastal’s first score, as well as a 29-yard run that set up the second CCU touchdown. He had a 57-yard run that put Coastal at VMI’s 5-yard line and set up his first score of the night that tied the game at 28. Then with 3:08 remaining and the game tied at 35, Tolbert busted three VMI tackles in the first five yards, picked up a key block at the VMI 25 and rumbled home with a Big South-record 86-yard touchdown run to lead the Chanticleers to the win. His 244 rushing yards missed the Conference single-game record by one yard, and his 266 all-purpose yards vs. the Keydets was four shy of the League record.
Autry, a redshirt-sophomore from Charlotte, N.C., recorded a career-best 12 tackles, including 10 solo shots, against VMI. Autry, who posted his second-straight game with 10-plus tackles, also had an interception, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and added one pass break-up. The interception sealed the win for the Chants, as VMI had moved to the CCU 37-yard line, but Autry picked off Kyle Hughes with less than a minute remaining to end the final threat.
Sitton, a junior from Greer, S.C., was a key piece in Coastal’s win over VMI. He had two kickoff returns for 132 yards (66.0 average), with his first return going for 47 yards in the second quarter. After VMI took a 35-28 lead with just under seven minutes left in the game, Sitton returned the ensuing kickoff a school-record 85 yards for a game-tying touchdown. It was the first-ever kickoff return for a touchdown in Coastal history and tied for the eighth-longest in Big South history.
Simpson Makes History: Senior wide receiver Jerome Simpson made history against Presbyterian, Oct. 20, becoming the Big South Conference’s all-time leading receiver at 2,491 yards, surpassing Maurice Price of Charleston Southern 2,429. The Big South’s career leader and current FCS active career leader with 39 touchdown receptions, Simpson also ranks fourth all-time in the Big South in receptions with 146.
Simpson Surpasses Another Milestone: WIth his touchdown catch at Delaware State, Sept. 1, senior wide receiver Jerome Simpson became just the fourth player in Big South history to surpass the 200-point scoring mark, now with 234. Of those three others, two were teammates of Simpson -- recently graudate kicker Josh Hoke (297) and running back Aundres Perkins (286).
Tolbert Makes It A Cool Grand: Senior fullback Mike Tolbert isn’t getting close on money but moved up the career rushing yard chart. Tolbert’s 26 yards in the win over Winston-Salem State put him over the 1,000-yard mark, a total that now stands at 1,428 career yards. He is just the fourth rusher in CCU history to reach the historic plateau.
The Leader of the Pack: CCU Head Coach David Bennett has continued where he left off at Catawba with his winning ways now at Coastal. Bennett had gone 34-5 his final three seasons at Catawba, making him now 71-20 (78.0 percent) in his last 91 games as a head coach.
Red Zone Making Opponents See Red: Or see more lights for Coastal on the scoreboard in this case. Coaches often say that red zone execution is a key to success for a football team, and Coastal Carolina follows that philosophy. In 2006, Coastal was 45-for-56 (80 percent) in the red zone, 35 of which were touchdowns, while opponents were 37-for-47 (79 percent) inside the 20 with just 28 touchdowns.
This season, Coastal has converted on 29-of-37 (78 percent) of its red zone chances, but only has gotten in the end zone on 21 of those occasions (57 percent).
Going Long and Far: Coastal is not afraid to chew up the yardage en route to putting points on the scoreboard this season. Of the 31 scoring drives, 23 have been 60 yards or more with 15 of them going seven plays or longer.
The Magic Number is 200: The magic answer to the question for Coastal is 200, as the Chanticleers are now 25-3 lifetime when rushing for 200 yards or more in a game. The only losses came in 2005's finale at Charleston Southern, this year's loss to Georgia Southern and last week's overtime defeat to Presbyterian. Coastal went over the 200-yard mark in rushing five times in 2006, winning all five games.
Autry Stepping Up And Knocking Down: Safety Brandon Autry has been making the stops defensively, but especially in the last two games. After having just five tackles in his freshman season, Autry leads Coastal with 50 total tackles on the year, including 36 solo tackles. He also added 4.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Against Presbyterian, Autry posted a then career-best 10 tackles, but followed it up with a new career-best 12 tackles (10 of them solo), one interception, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one pass breakup in the win over VMI.
Oh My, Oboh: Defensive end Phillip Oboh has been making his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball for Coastal. In the win over Winston-Salem State, he posted a then career-high nine tackles (five solos), including 3.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. He followed it up with a career-high 12 tackles (with a career-best nine solos), along with 2.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks against Georgia Southern. He is currently tied for sixth for CCU with 43 tackles and leads with 6.5 tackles for loss and tied for second with 3.0 sacks.
This Week's Injury Report: On this week's injury report for the game against Liberty, Adrain Grady (right ankle) and Britt Leggett (right shoulder) are probable, with Jamie Fordham (left knee) questionable and Josh Stevenson (left shoulder) doubtful. Louie Brock (right foot), B.J. Jenkins (left knee) and Trent Usher (concussion) are out for the game, while Antonio Bellamy (toe), Corey Hawkins (right knee), Jon Greene (left wrist) and Ren McKinnon (right hip) are out for the season.
He Can Run Like A Ford-ham: And running back Jamie Fordham has done that twice this year at Brooks Stadium. Against Georgia Southern, Sept. 15., on the first play of Coastal's third drive starting at the CCU 39, Fordham took off through the middle and out ran the Eagles' defense for a 61-yard touchdown, the longest of his career. Fordham finished the night with nine carries for 96 yards and the touchdown. Most recently, Fordham posted a career-best 133 yards on just 13 carries (10.2 yards per carry), including a career-best 62 yards. He already has a career-best 423 yards on the season and is closing in on the 1,000-yard rushing mark in his career, entering today's game with 906 yards.
Two Big South And School Records For the Defense: Coastal Carolina's defense set one new Big South Conference and two CCU records, while tying on other league mark against Presbyterian, Oct. 20. The Chanticleers set a new conference mark with six interceptions in the game, while defensive back Marrio Norman tied the league mark and set a new school record with three individual interceptions.
Tolbert posted a career game in the home win over VMI, rushing for a school-record 244 yards on just 13 carries and scoring twice. He broke his own Big South record with the game-winning 86-yard touchdown run, while finishing just one yard off the league record for total rushing yards and four yards behind the all-purpose yards record of 270. He now has a career single-season best 506 yards of rushing to go with six touchdowns.
Some Records Fell In The Chowan Win: Against Chowan, Coastal had several team records fall. The Chanticleers rolled up a school-record 490 yards of total rushing offense. Seven different players scored touchdowns for CCU, four of them getting their first collegiate scores. On the defensive side, the squad posted school records for fewest rushing yards, as well as fewest total yards in a contest. The defense also tied a school record with six sacks, all coming in the first half and posted just the second shutout in school history.
Cunningham Named Big South Freshman of the Week: Coastal Carolina defensive back Keon Cunningham was named Big South Conference Freshman of the Week for games played during Week 8 (Oct. 20) of the 2007 season, it was announced today by the Conference office.
Linebacker Frasier Earns Big South Freshman Honors: Freshman linebacker Derrick Frasier was named Big South Conference Freshman of the Week for his play last week at Furman. In his first collegiate start, the Orangeburg, S.C. native recorded a career-high and team-high 12 tackles in the game, including two on the first FU drive that forced a failed fourth-down conversion, as well as another drive-ending tackle. He is the second Chanticleer to earn Freshman of the Week honors this season, as running back Eric O'Neal garnered it previously.
Getting Some Weekly Honors: Coastal Carolina quarterback William Richardson has been named the Big South football Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week for games played during Week 2 (Sept. 8) of the 2007 season, it was announced today by the Conference office. In addition, running back Eric O’Neal garnered Freshman of the Week honors.
Richardson, a redshirt-junior from Sumter, S.C., passed for a career-high 301 yards on 16-of-24 passing (66.7 percent) and one touchdown in leading the Chanticleers in its 28-21 come-from-behind win over Winston-Salem State. In just his second career start, Richardson led four scoring drives of 60 yards-or-more, including the final two scoring drives (69 and 60) that led to the game-winning points. He also led Coastal in coverting 7-of-16 third down opportunities, including a 36-yard pass on 3rd-and-30 that eventually turned into Coastal’s first points of the game. Of Richardson’s 16 pass completions, 13 went for at least 10 yards, including six greater than 25 yards, as he became just the eighth different player in Big South history to pass for 300 yards in a game. This is the first Big South honor of his career.
O’Neal, a freshman from Kathleen, Ga., recorded 152 all-purpose yards in Saturday’s win over Winston-Salem State. He led the Chanticleers with 77 rushing yards on 17 carries (4.5 per rush) and caught two passes for 44 yards, including a 28-yard reception on 3rd-and-8 that kept alive a drive that led to CCU’s second touchdown of the night. O’Neal also returned a kickoff 31 yards.
Returning This Season: The Chanticleers returned just 36 letterwinners and 10 starters on the current depth chart (four offense, six defense, no special teams) to the squad this year.
Richardson Reaches 300: Junior quarterback William Richardson put his name in the record books, becoming just the second Coastal quarterback ever to post a 300-yard passing game, throwing for 301 in the win over Winston-Salem State, Sept. 8. His total ranks as the sixth-best passing game in CCU history and he is just the eighth player in Big South Conference history to reach that plateau.
Senior Impact Still Being Felt: Coastal Carolina graduated more players than any Division I football program in the country last year, losing 36 seniors, including 31 letterwinners. Among the 36 seniors on the roster, 32 of them were in at least their third year with the program. This group, comprised of the first two football recruiting classes at CCU, has led CCU to a 34-11 mark in four years, along with at least a share of three consecutive Big South Conference titles and the program's first-ever berth in the NCAA Division I Football Championships.
Among The National Leaders in Attendance: Coastal has been one of the standouts in Division I-FCS in attendance based on capacity in its first four seasons. Ranking in the top seven in the nation in each of the first four years, the Chanticleers set a new Brooks Stadium record in the home opening win over No. 1 James Madison, packing 8,533 fans into a stadium that seats 6,408. Coastal finished the season as the top I-FCS team in attendance based on capacity at 114.3 percent.
Coastal continued that tradition in 2006, including setting a new Brooks Stadium record with 9,287 fans in the home win over South Carolina State, Sept. 23. The Chanticleers then surpassed it with 10,013 fans in the home win over then No. 3 Furman. The Chanticleers had 8,169 fans in the first contest at Elon and ranked fourth in I-FCS in attendance based on percentage of capacity at 112.52 percent.
After the first five home games of 2007, Coastal ranks 12th in attendance based on capacity at 103.6 percent.
It Was The First (But Not the Last) Time: Coastal made its first appearance in the Division I Football Championship (formerly known as the I-AA playoffs) in its brief four-year history when it took on eventual two-time National Champion Appalachian State in the opening round. This was the first time that a Big South Conference school has earned a berth in the postseason and only the second school from a non-automatic bid conference to earn a berth (Cal Poly - 2005) in the last 10 years.
Defensive Puts Together Solid Outing: The Coastal Carolina defense had one of its best games of the season at Furman, Oct. 6. The Chanticleers gave up then season lows of 201 yards on the ground, 43 yards in the air and 244 yards of total offense. While Furman scored 27 points, 13 could be directly attributed to special teams miscues.
Friendly Confines Describes Brooks Stadium: In the brief history of the program, the Chanticleers are 22-6 (.786) in the friendly confines of Brooks Stadium. CCU is playing six home games again this year. Coastal has won 20 of its last 23 games at Brooks Stadium/Benton Field. Coastal also has won its last seven Big South games at home, dating back to the 2003 season.
Stadium Expansion: Sept. 2, 2006 marked the first game with the new seating capacity of CCU's Brooks Stadium. The school added 914 seats to the facility to bring seating capacity up to 7,322 for the 2006 season. Now Coastal has started moving some ground in preparation for full construction to start right after Christmas on the new Adkins Fieldhouse which will add approximately 2,000 seats to the facility.
Simpson Named Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Senior wide receiver Jerome Simpson was named the Big South Conference's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, by a vote of the league's coaches, sports information directors and media members. Simpson, who received 11 first-place votes and 26 total points, was a Second-Team All-America last season by the Associated Press and Weekly Football Gazette, and a third-team honoree from The Sports Network. Simpson set a Big South single-season record in 2006 with 1,077 receiving yards and 16 touchdown receptions, helping the Chanticleers to their third consecutive League title and the school’s and Conference’s first-ever berth in the national playoffs. He has been selected as a preseason All-American by Lindy’s College Football Preview and Street & Smith’s, and is Lindy’s choice as the Big South’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Rated No. 2 among all FCS wide receivers entering 2007 by The Sports Network, Simpson holds all of Coastal's single-game, season and career receiving records. He caught a touchdown pass in his final eight games (12 total) last year and caught a TD in all but one contest.
Grady Earns Preseason All-Big South Honors: Senior defensive lineman Adrain Grady was honored on the Preseason All-Big South team after a vote of the league's coaches, sports information directors and media members. A three-time Second Team All-Big South selection, Grady enters his senior season as Coastal's all-time sack leader with 17 and ranks fourth in career tackles with 129. He played in just three games in 2006 before an injury ended his season, giving him a medical redshirt. His junior year, he started all 11 games and recorded a career-best 48 tackles, including a career-best 10 tackles at Liberty to help CCU get a triple-overtime victory.
Working Overtime in 2005: After playing its first-ever overtime game in the Big South opener against Gardner-Webb, Oct. 15, Coastal Carolina came back the next week for a second, even larger helping with a triple-overtime win at Liberty, Oct. 22. The team then played its third extra-period game at Charleston Southern, going double overtime in that one. The amazing part about it is that the Chanticleers held their opponents to just 10 points in the six overtimes, forcing three turnovers and one missed 42-yard field goal. Coastal played more overtime games (3) and more overtime periods (6) than any team in I-A or I-AA football in 2005.
Since then, Coastal has played in just one overtime game, losing in a single extra period to Presbyterian, 41-34, earlier this season. CCU is now 2-2 in overtime games in its history.
Weekly Big South Teleconference: Each Tuesday during the 2007 season, all six Big South head coaches will participate in a one-hour teleconference call, beginning at 10:30am ET. CCU Head Coach David Bennett is on from 11:20-11:30 a.m. each Tuesday. Each call will be recorded and available for playback beginning Tuesday afternoons on the Conference’s website, www.Big SouthSports.com. THIS CALL IS OPEN TO MEDIA ONLY. If you would like information to tune in live and ask questions, please contact either John Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mark Simpson (email@example.com) for the dial-in phone number and code.
Cunningham, a freshman from Edgefield, S.C., had a stellar game in his second collegiate start, posting five tackles (all solo), including two tackles for loss (minus-15 yards) and one sack (minus-13), as well as his second career interception, which he returned 57 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter against Presbyterian. Cunningham also recorded a pass break-up and was part of a secondary that intercepted a Big South single-game record six passes versus the Blue Hose.