Football To Wrap Up 2007 Season at Charleston Southern


Football To Wrap Up 2007 Season at Charleston Southern

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The Season Finale: The Coastal Carolina football squad concludes its 2007 schedule on the road, traveling 100 miles south to take on in-state rival Charleston Southern this afternoon. The game will be televised on SportSouth, with Matt Devlin and Rod Smith on the call.

The Coaches: Coastal Carolina Head Coach David Bennett (Presbyterian, '84) is in his fifth season at Coastal with a 38-17 record at CCU and 101-34 overall in his 12th year as a head coach. Bennett picked up his 100th career coaching victory in the previous home game against VMI.

      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. He holds a career record of 8-1 against the Bulldogs in his career, dating back to his days at Catawba.

      Charleston Southern Head Coach Jay Mills (Western Washington, '84) is in his fifth season as head coach of the Buccaneers with a 27-27 record at CSU and a 30-48 record in his eighth season as a head coach overall.

History with Charleston Southern: This will be the fifth time that Coastal and Charleston Southern will meet on the gridiron. Coastal holds a 3-1 advantage. Last year’s meeting, the Chanticleers wrapped up their third straight Big South Conference title and the league's first-ever trip to the NCAA Playoffs with a 31-17 victory. However the last time the two teams met in Charleston in 2005, Coastal was not as fortunate as the game ended up in two overtimes in the favor of the homestanding Bucs, 34-27, earning CSU a share of the Big South crown with Coastal and keeping the Chants out of postseason action.

History with Charleston Southern

  Date              Game/Location   Result
11/22/2003     at CSU   W, 48-14
11/20/2004     at Coastal       W, 56-28
11/19/2005     at CSU   L-2ot, 27-34
11/18/2006     at Coastal       W, 31-17

Coastal Still a Force in the Big South: Coastal is still showing it has to be reckoned with in the Big South Conference. Despite having a losing season, CCU has locked up at least a .500 mark in the league for the fourth straight year and has won  14 of its last 16 league games.

Washington Named Big South Defensive Player of the Week (Yes - Defensive):  Coastal Carolina’s Santini Washington was selected the New Balance Defensive Player of the Week for games played during Week 11 (Nov. 10) of the 2007 season, it was announced by the Conference office.

      Washington, a senior from Jonesboro, Ga., moved from his regular wide receiver spot to cornerback and started at the position in the Chanticleers’ 17-14 win over Gardner-Webb. In his first action at cornerback since high school, Washington recorded four solo tackles, one tackle for loss and an interception. In the first half with GWU leading 7-0, he intercepted a pass at the Coastal 14-yard line and returned it 20 yards to end a threat. Later in the fourth quarter with GWU leading 14-10, Washington tackled Gardner-Webb’s punter on fourth down for an 18-yard loss, setting up Coastal at the Bulldogs’ 18-yard line en route to the Chanticleers’ winning touchdown drive.

The Streak Continues: In its brief history of 55 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 47 of its 56 games in its history on natural grass. CCU is 36-11 (.766) on natural grass, including going 4-4 on it this year.

On The Road: The Chanticleers have been a very competitive team on the road, posting a 15-11 mark in their short history. However this season, CCU has yet to record a road victory in four tries (at Delaware State, Furman, James Madison and Liberty).

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.

Winning When Scoring First: Coastal has been a stellar team when scoring first, holding a 25-3 mark in four-plus seasons of play.

Daytime Can Be the Right Time: Coastal is 18-8 in day games, and the numbers go down on the road, as CCU is 9-7 in day games away from Conway.

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 12-5 in television appearances all-time, including last year's dramatic win over then No. 3 Furman and the Big South Championship win over Charleston Southern.

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 34 percent (45-for-133) of its third-down opportunities, while opponents have capitalized on 38 percent (42-for-112) of their third-down chances.

Defense Stepping Up Against Gardner-Webb: The Coastal Carolina defense made plays in the Big South Conference win over Gardner-Webb, Nov. 10. CCU limited the Bulldogs to just 14 points, 11.7 points below GWU's average coming in and the lowest output by a FCS opponent against the Chants this year. CCU also limited GWU to just 290 yards of total offense, almost 80 yards below their season average entering the game.

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 32-of-42 (76 percent) of its red zone chances, but only has gotten in the end zone on 24 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 38 scoring drives, 28 have been 60 yards or more with 20 of them going seven plays or longer.

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.

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.

The Magic Number is 200: The magic answer to the question for Coastal is 200, as the Chanticleers are now 25-4 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 losses to Georgia Southern, against Presbyterian and at Liberty. Coastal went over the 200-yard mark in rushing five times in 2006, winning all five games.

Among the National Leaders: After the first 10 games of the season, Coastal Carolina ranks in the top 50 in NCAA Divsion I Football Championship Subdivision in eight  categories. The  high ranking areas include pass defense (4th, 149.00 ypg), kickoff returns (14th, 23.65 ypr), sacks (2.70 spg), turnover margin (17th, +1.00), tackles for loss (t-20th, 7.60 tpg), rushing offense (26th, 202.5 ypg), punt returns (42nd, 10.26 ypr) and scoring offense (50th, 27.5 ppg).

      Individually, several Chanticleers rank in the top 50 in the country in various statistics. Defensive back Marrio Norman is fifth in interceptions (0.63 int/g) and is 42nd in punt returns at 9.10 ypr. Arthur Sitton is 16th on kickoff returns (27.78 ypr), while Eric O’Neal ranks 26th (26.36 ypr). Kicker Justin Durham is tied for 29th in field goals (1.20 pg).

Simpson Makes History: Senior wide receiver Jerome Simpson continues to make history in his final season at Coastal. He started the accolades against Presbyterian, Oct. 20, becoming the Big South Conference’s all-time leading receiver, a record that currently stands at 2,636 yards, surpassing Maurice Price of Charleston Southern 2,429. The Big South’s career leader and current FCS active career leader in touchdown receptions, he became the first receiver in league history with more than 40 career touchdown receptions with a pair at Liberty, Nov. 3, pushing his total to 43. He became the first Big South player ever to record 10 touchdown receptions in two separate seasons (16-2006, 10-2007) with his two touchdown catches against Gardner-Webb.

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 43 (ahead of second by nine touchdowns), while also ranking sixrth in receiving yards per catch (16.8), eighth in yards (2,636) and 17th in receptions (157), as well as ninth in touchdowns overall and 15th in total points (258). Defensive back Marrio Norman is 10th in interceptions per game (0.4) and 15th in total interceptions (10). Arthur Sitton ranks 12th in kickoff return average (25.04 ypr) and 15th in touchdowns (1).

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 102-34 (.750) as a head coach.

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 12th-best single game mark this year, while his 86-yard game-winning touchdown dash is the 11th longest this year and longest run in Big South annals. Kick returner Arthur Sitton is also on the list, as his 85-yard kickoff return touchdown is tied for the 36th longest return this year.

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 258. 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 1,610 career yards. He is just the fourth rusher in CCU history to reach the historic plateau.

      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 688 yards of rushing to go with six touchdowns.

Closing In on the Century Mark: Coastal has two players looking to crack the 1,000-yard mark at their respective positions. Wide receiver Santini Washington is just 34 yards shy of the 1,000-yard receiving mark, entering tonight's game with 964, while running back Jamie Fordham is currently at 906 career rushing yards, just 94 away from the benchmark.

O'Neal Earns Big South Freshman of the Week Award: Coastal Carolina running back Eric O’Neal garnered Big South Conference Freshman of the Week honors for games played during Week 10 (Nov. 3) of the 2007 season, it was announced by the Conference office.

      O’Neal, a freshman from Kathleen, Ga., tallied 117 all-purpose yards for the Chanticleers at Liberty. O’Neal returned three kickoffs for 95 yards (31.7 average), including a long of 49 to open the second-half that led to a Chanticleer field goal to cut the margin to 23-10. O’Neal also rushed for 15 yards and caught a seven-yard pass against the Flames.

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.

      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.

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 72-22 (76.6 percent) in his last 94 games as a head coach.

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 60 total tackles on the year, including a team-high 43 solo tackles. He also added 4.5 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 sixth for CCU with 52 tackles and leads with 8.0 tackles for loss and third with 3.0 sacks.

This Week's Injury Report: On this week's injury report for the game at Charleston Southern, Jamie Fordham (left knee), Adrain Grady (right ankle), Marrio Norman (ankle) and Josh Stevenson (left shoulder) are probable. Brandon Autry (chest) is doubtful, while Louie Brock (foot) out for the game. Antonio Bellamy (toe), Corey Hawkins (right knee), Jon Greene (left wrist), B.J. Jenkins (left knee), Trent Kilian (right hip) 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.

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.

      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.

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.

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.

Last Year's Senior Impact 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 six home games of 2007, Coastal ranks 13th in attendance based on capacity at 102.6 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 23-6 (.793) 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.

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.



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