CHANTICLEERS vs. MOUNTAINEERS
NCAA Division I Football Championship First Round
Appalachian State's Kidd Brewer Stadium (17,150) ~ Boone, North Carolina
Saturday, November 25, 2006 ~ 3:30 p.m.
The First Time: Today marks the first appearance for Coastal in the Division I Football Championship (formerly known as the I-AA playoffs) in its brief four-year history. This is also 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.
The Coaches: Coastal Carolina Head Coach David Bennett (Presbyterian, '84) is in his fourth season at Coastal with a 34-10 record at CCU and 97-27 overall in his 11th 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.
Appalachian State Head Coach Jerry Moore (Baylor, '61) is in his 18th season as head coach of the Mountaineers, posting a 150-68 record at ASU, while he is 177-115-2 in his 25th season as a head coach overall. Last season, ASU finished 12-3 and captured its first National Championship under Moore.
History with App State: Last year was the only previous meeting between Coastal and ASU, with the Mountaineers handling CCU 30-3 en route to Appalachian State winning the 2005 National Championship.
Last Year at App State: No. 15/17 Coastal Carolina never got on track, as Appalachian State took control of the game early, as the Mountaineers won their 2005 home opener, 30-3, Sept. 17.
The Mountaineers got on the board first midway through the second quarter. On ASUs third possession, running back Kevin Richardson took the ball on the first play, cut back against the defense and scampered 59 yards for a 7-0 Appalachian State lead.
Appalachian struck again, this time on the defensive side. Quarterback Tyler Thigpen overthrew the Coastal receiver and Corey Lynch picked it off at the ASU 25. Lynch then returned it 41 yards, where he fumbled it but Jason Hunter recovered it and took it the final 25 yards for a Mountaineer score. The extra point hit the right upright and Appalachian State led 13-0 with 10 seconds remaining in the first quarter and CCU never recovered.
The Mountaineers dominated on both sides of the ball, outgaining the Chants 582-225. Richardson had 18 rushes for 178 yards and three touchdowns, while Williams was 13-of-25 for 185 yards and had nine carries for 85 yards.
In his first game at full strength, junior Aundres Perkins had eight carries for 53 yards. Another bright spot for the Chants was junior Ren McKinnons 125 yards on five kick returns in his first game at that position. (Full story and stats on page 22).
Against the Southern Conference: There is no doubt that the Southern Conference has been one of the top conferences in I-AA football for the past 10 years. The Chanticleers have played teams from the SoCon six times in the last two years, going 1-1 last year, defeating Elon and losing at eventual national champion Appalachian State, and 2-2 this season, with a win at Wofford and over then No. 3 Furman and losses to Elon and at Georgia Southern.
Back-To-Back-To-Back: The Chanticleers have become 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.
Earning Conference and National Honors This Week: Coastal Carolina quarterback Tyler Thigpen and Chanticleers defensive back Marrio Norman 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 the final week of the regular-season (Nov. 18), it was announced today by the Conference office. Additionally Norman was named The Sports Network National Defensive Player of the Week.
To earn his fourth Big South weekly honor of the year, Thigpen helped the Chanticleers to an outright Big South Conference championship and at-large berth in the Division I Football Championship as he threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns as CCU defeated Charleston Southern, 31-17. His 325 passing yards are a career-high and sixth-most in a game in Big South history. It also was his record fourth 300-yard passing game, and he extended his League record of 300-total offense games to eight. Thigpen was 23-of-36 passing in the air and gained 47 yards on the ground to finish with 372 total yards. He threw the go-ahead score with 6:05 remaining in the third quarter, a five-yard strike to Jerome Simpson. He also had a 57-yard pass to Simpson at 4:03 left in the second quarter. The last touchdown was a 20-yard pass to Santini Washington with 12:59 left in the fourth. Thigpen has thrown a touchdown pass in every game this season, including five games with at least three.
Norman helped the Chanticleers defense limit Charleston Southern to just 111 total yards in the second half and zero points, while recording five tackles (four solo), 0.5 tackles for loss (1 yard), three pass break-ups and a key fourth quarter interception when he picked off Kenny Harpers halfback option pass and returned it 58 yards to set up Coastals decisive touchdown in the win. Two of his pass break-ups ended drives and a third forced a fourth-down attempt in the fourth quarter for CSU that came up short. The four passes defended are a season-high for the Chanticleers.
A Good Road Squad: The Chants have proven to be a good road squad in their first four seasons of play. Overall, Coastal has a 15-6 road mark, including going 4-1 this season.
Senior Impact: Coastal returns more seniors than any program in I-AA football this year. After spending the first season practicing, the Chanticleers start the 2006 season with not one, but two classes of seniors, as the 2002 and 2003 recruiting classes will wrap up their eligibility this year. Among the 36 seniors on the roster, 32 of them are in at least their third year with the program and 14 are starting on offense or defense, along with four starting specialists.
This group, comprised of the first two football recruiting classes at CCU, has led CCU to a 34-10 mark so far in four years, along with at least a share of three consecutive Big South Conference titles.
Coastal Football On TV: Coastal Carolina's football team is making its league-record fifth appearance on television this season in today's game versus Charleston Southern. The game is being broadcast on SportSouth.
CCU has played two other televised home games (South Carolina State and Furman), as well as two on the road (Georgia Southern and Gardner-Webb). In its brief history, CCU is a stellar 12-2 in television appearances all-time, including this year's dramatic win over then No. 3 Furman and last weeks Big South Championship win over Charleston Southern.
Chanticleers In The Rankings: The Chanticleers moved to 9-2 with their Big South Championship win over Charleston Southern, Nov. 18, and are now ranked 13th in the College Sporting News Coaches' Poll and in The Sports Network poll. Coastal also is rated sixth by Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette.
Daylight Hours: Out of 44 games in its history, Coastal Carolina has played 23 in the day light hours. Coastal is 18-5 in day games, and the numbers are good on the road, as CCU is 9-4 in day games away from Conway
Winning at Halftime: CCU is impressive when leading at the half with a 25-2 mark. Coastal is a perfect 14-0 at home when taking a lead into the intermission, while posting a 11-2 mark when leading at the half on the road. The only losses have occurred at Liberty in 2003 and last year's double-overtime thriller at Charleston Southern.
Running Game Revved Up In League Play: Coastals ground attack has stepped up in Big South Conference play. In three league contests, CCU has averaged 236.5 rushing yards per game, while adding a solid 278.2 passing yards per contest. Fullback Mike Tolbert leads the way at 79.8 yards per game and six touchdowns, while Tyler Thigpen and Aundres Perkins have added 71.0 yards and one score and 51.0 yards and four touchdowns, respectively.
Winning When Scoring First: Coastal has been a stellar team when scoring first, holding an 22-1 mark in three-plus seasons of play. Last season, Coastal was 4-0 when lighting the scoreboard first. The Chants were 8-0 in 2004 when scoring first, including a perfect 6-0 when scoring first on the road.
When Its Natural: Coastal has played 40 of its 44 games in its history on natural grass. CCU is 32-8 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 and the triple-overtime win at Liberty last season.
Putting a Winning Streak Together: After starting the season 1-2, Coastal has turned things around and won its last eight games, including the dramatic home win over then No. 3 Furman, Oct. 7 and the most recent road win at Gardner-Webb. The eight-game winning streak is the fifth-longest current streak in I-AA football and is the second-longest win streak in Coastal history.
Second Half Surge: Coastal Carolina has proven that it makes quality adjustments out of the halftime locker room in 2006. In the first half, CCU has outscored opponents just 172-128, but in the second, the Chanticleers hold a dominating 218-117 advantage, winning both the third and fourth quarters by at least 49 points each. Averaging that out over 11 games, that is a 9.2 point per game advantage after the break.
Last Time Out Against Charleston Southern: No. 12 Coastal Carolina scored 28 unanswered points to come back and defeat Charleston Southern, 31-17, to capture the outright 2006 Big South Conference football championship with a perfect 4-0 record. The Chanticleers have won or shared a League-record three consecutive Big South championships.
Charleston Southern jumped out to a 17-3 lead mid-way through the second quarter. On the games first play, Bucs QB Collin Drafts scrambled 59 yards to the Coastal Carolina 11-yard-line to set-up Kenny Harpers 1-yard rush to make it 7-0 Charleston just 2:36 into the ballgame. CSU scored twice more in the first half, including a a nine-play, 64-yard drive that ended with Robert Adams scoring from a yard out, giving CSU a 17-3 lead.
That would be all of Charleston Southerns scoring, as Coastal scored the next 28 points of the game, including a pair of touhdown passes from Tyler Thigpen to Jerome Simpson, as well a rushing touchdown by Aundres Perkins and another TD pass from Thigpen to Santini Washington for the final score of the game.
Coastal put together 444 yards of total offense in the win, including 325 through the air, while Charleston Southern had 364 yards of offense. However in the second half, the CCU defense limited the Bucs to just 111 yards of total offense while picking off three CSU passes.
Thigpen finished the game with 325 passing yards and 372 total yards, extending his Big South record to eight 300-yard total offense games. He was 23-of-36 with three touchdowns and two interceptions, along with 47 yards of rushing. Simpson led Coastal with six catches for 107 yards and two scores, while Washington added five catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. (Complete game recap and stats on Page 23.)
Coastal Has Big South Offensive Player of the Year, 13 Players Honored Overall: The Coastal Carolina football team had 12 players named to the Big South All-Conference squads, with nine on the First Team including Offensive Player of the Year honors going to senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen as announced by the Big South Conference today (Nov. 21).
Joining Thigpen on the First Team is junior wide receiver Jerome Simpson, senior tight end Rodney Burgess , and the senior offensive lineman duo of Brad Poston and Brian Kepple. Senior defensive lineman Sam Harper, senior linebacker Jamar Leath and senior defensive back Quinton Teal all landed spots on the Defensive First Team. Senior long snapper James Coble was also honored on the First Team.
Thigpen, who received 17 of 19 first-place votes, is currently ranked second in the Football Championship Subdivision with 325.3 ypg of total offense, while being fourth nationally with 267.7 passing yards per game and leading Coastal to its third consecutive Big South title and first-ever berth in the NCAA Division I Football Championships. Thigpen is also a Walter Payton Award finalist for this year, a first ever for the Big South. He set nine Conference season records in 2006 in total offense (3,578), total offense per game (325.3), passing yards (2,945), touchdown passes (26), passing yards per game (267.7), passing efficiency (169.86), 300-yard passing games (4), 300-total yard games (8) and rushing yards by a quarterback (633). He has been named Player of the Week four times this season and became the first quarterback to rush for more than 600 yards in a season, with his 633 ranking fourth overall in Big South rushing, while adding four touchdowns. He currently ranks third all-time in total offense with 7,862 yards.
Simpson, the lone Chanticleer junior to earn First Team honors, has set the school records in receptions, yards and touchdowns with 54 catches for 945 yards and 14 touchdowns. He currently ranks 11th in the nation in yards per game (85.7) and 26th in scoring (7.64) as well as setting the league record for touchdown receptions in a season (14). Simpson was named Offensive Player of the Week twice this season and has scored at least one touchdown in 10 out of 11 contests this year, including five touchdowns in Big South play and a streak of seven consecutive games. He also isCoastal's career leader in receptions (113), yards (1,891) and touchdown receptions (31).
Burgess has played in all 11 games this season and has hauled in a total of 18 receptions for 300 yards. He had four catches in the home opener against Elon for 89 yards, including a career-best 44-yard reception. He also had four key receptions for 85 yards and one touchdown in the win at Wofford and found the end zone against Savannah State, along with having three catches for 46 yards. This is Burgess' first All-Conference honor.
Poston gets his second First Team honor in as many years, starting all 11 games for the Coastal offensive line that blocked for an offense that set a new Big South record for passing yards and passing touchdowns. He has graded out at least 70 percent in all 11 games this year and has been the only player in Coastal history to start all 44 games since the program's inception in 2003.
Kepple, another familiar face on the Coastal offensive line, has also started in all 11 games this season, helping the team earn its third consecutive Big South title and the league's first-ever spot in the Division I Football Championship. He had a 70 percent or better grade in each game this season and has started all but one game in his career as a Chanticleer. Kepple was named to the Second Team All-Conference last year.
Harper has played in all 11 games on the defensive line for the Chants, starting in eight of them, including six of the last seven. He recorded a career-best 53 tackles on the year, 13 of them being solo. He also added 4.5 tackles for a loss of 21 yards, five sacks for 16 yards and four quarterback hurries. In the win against Liberty, he had a season-high nine tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss of five yards and one sack.
Leath has started all 11 games for the Big South champs, becoming the conference's all-time leading tackler with 356 career tackles. He posted his second consecutive 100-tackle season, tying the school record with 108 tackles and currently ranks 27th in the nation at 9.82 tackles per game. He has recorded four games with 10-plus tackles this year and had at least eight stops in 10 games. In the win against Liberty, Leath posted a career-best 15 tackles with one sack. He also posted a then career-best 14 tackles, five of them solo, along with one tackle for a loss and one forced fumble in the win over No. 3 Furman, earning him Player of the Week honors.
Teal has been a familiar face on the First Team, getting his second straight honor this season. Teal is the league's all-time interception leader with 17 and leads the conference in single-season picks, this time tying with four, which also ties him for 28th in the nation. He has led the league with 12 passes defended and had 71 tackles, ranking second for Coastal and 12th overall in the league. He posted a career-best 13 tackles in the win over Liberty, including one tackle for loss and an interception that ended an LU scoring drive. He also added seven tackles, two pass breakups and a blocked kick that led to a two-point PAT conversion that was the difference in the win over Furman.
Coble has played in all 11 games as long snapper for Coastal on the year, serving as the snapper on every field goal and point-after attempts, totaling 65 times this year. He took over last year and has been the short snapper for the last 18 games of his career after transferring to Coastal from Winston-Salem State.
Three Chanticleers were named to the Second-Team All-Big South, as senior running back Aundres Perkins earned offensive honors with sophomore Ronnie Mason and senior Dewitt Myers named on the defensive squad.
Perkins has played in all 11 games this season, finishing with 545 yards and eight touchdowns on 111 carries (4.9 avg). He has also added a career-best 21 receptions for 274 yards and one score while helping CCU to its third consecutive Big South title. He currently leads the league in career touchdowns with 47 (46 rushing, one receiving) and is Coastal's all-time leading rusher with 2,289 yards, which is third in the conference record books. In the win at VMI, he ran for a season-high 90 yards on just seven carries, while pulling down three catches for 49 yards. Perkins has scored in four conference games this year, inclduing a season-high three times (two rushing, one receiving) in the win at Gardner-Webb.
Myers has played in 10 games for Coastal, starting six of the last seven before an injury sidelined him for the season finale. He had a career-best 33 tackles, 17 solo, this season as well as a career-high four interceptions which tied the league lead and ranks him 21st nationally. He had a season-best six tackles on three separate occasions, at Georgia Southern, against South Carolina State and at VMI. He also posted five tackles against Elon and Liberty as well has having picks in four separate games and two pass breakups on the season.
Senior kicker Josh Hoke was named the League's Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year as well as to the Academic All-Conference team. Carrying a 3.98 grade-point-average in communications, Hoke has been a two-time First Team All-Big South kicker as well as two-time All-Region honoree in his career. He was named ESPN The Magazine First Team Academic All-American last year and is a two-time Academic All-District and I-AA Academic All-Star selection. He is the all-time leader in scoring in the Big South with 295 points (175 PAT's, 40 field goals). He has hit 47-of-48 point after attempts and 10-of-17 field goal attempts this year. He earned Special Teams Player of the Week after hitting all nine PAT's and one field goal in the Savannah State win for 12 points, his season high. Hoke had a streak of 85 consecutive PAT's which extended into this season.
Thigpen On The Walter Payton Award Finalist List: Senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen has been named to the final Walter Payton Award List, The Sports Network announced his addition to the list Oct. 11 and is on the final ballot that came out Nov. 20. The list consists of 16 players who are voted on for I-AA football's version of the Heisman Trophy as the top player in I-AA football and will be presented Thu., Dec. 14 in Chattanooga, Tenn. as part of the I-AA Championship festivities.
The first ever Big South Conference player on the list, Thigpen set a new school record for passing yards in just eight games and now a new Big South mark that currently stands at 2,945 yards, an average of 267.7 yards per game, ranking fourth in I-AA. He also became the fastest passer to 1,000 and 2,000 yards in a season in Big South history this year. On the season, Thigpen ranks second I-AA in total offense at 325.3 yards per game, even while playing just a quarter and a half in the dominating win over Savannah State, Nov. 4. He also ranks fourth nationally in passing efficiency at 169.86.
He surpassed the 4,000-yard passing career mark in the game at No. 24 Georgia Southern, and just passed the 6,000-yard passing mark against Charleston Southern, a total currently at 6,247 career passing yards. He also surpassed the career total offense 7,000-yard total in the win over Savannah State, Nov. 4, with the total now at 7,862 yards.
Bennett Named Finalist for Eddie Robinson Award: Head Coach David Bennett has been named a Finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, announced by The Sports Network Nov. 20. He is the only coach the Coastal Carolina football program has had in its brief five-year history. This year in just the fourth year of play, Bennett led Coastal to a 9-2 mark, including a 4-0 record in the Big South to earn its third consecutive Big South crown and the program's first-ever berth in the NCAA Division I Football Championship. He has amassed a 34-10 record in four years as the leader of the Chants and has never had a losing season in his coaching career.
The Sports Network established the the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award in 1987, and it has been presented annually to the top coach in Division I-AA. The winner is chosen by the division's sports information directors and selected sports writers who cover the division. Robinson is college football's all-time winningest coach with a record of 408-164-15. He surpassed the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant for most victories on October 5, 1985 when Grambling State defeated Prairie View A&M. He won his unprecedented 400th game on October 7, 1995 against Mississippi Valley State.
Going Long and Far: Coastal has not been afraid to chew up the yardage en route to putting points on the scoreboard. This season, 48 of 60 scoring drives have been at least 47 yards, with 41 of them going 60 yards or more. For the season, Coastal's 49 touchdown drives have averaged 68.6 yards on 6.6 plays in just 2:40 per drive. On its 10 field goal drives, CCU has taken slightly longer, going 8.2 plays and 49.9 yards over 3:10.
Also, CCU has had 26 of 60 scoring drives go seven plays or more. In the home victory over then No. 3 Furman, all four scoring drives were at least 65 yards, with the longest going 83 yards.
Of last season's 46 scoring drives, the Chanticleers had 24 scoring drives (20 touchdowns, four field goals) of 50 yards or more, including 15 of 70-plus yards, and only 15 of 35 yards or less (seven touchdowns, eight field goals - including the overtime game winners against Gardner-Webb (FG) and Liberty (TD)). Additionally, Coastal had 14 scoring drives of nine plays or more.
Returning In The Fourth Year: The Chanticleers returned 73 letterwinners and 21 starters (seven offense, nine defense, five special teams) to the squad this year.
The Magic Number is 200: The magic answer to the question for Coastal is 200, as the Chanticleers are now 23-1 lifetime when rushing for 200 yards or more in a game. The only loss came in last season's finale at Charleston Southern, when Coastal ran for 222 yards in the double-overtime loss.
Most recently, the Chanticleers posted a season-best 332 yards of rushing in the win at Gardner-Webb, Nov. 11. Coastal has gone over the 200-yard mark in rushing five times this year, winning all five games.
Working the Balancing Act: Coastal has worked, since the first season, on becoming a more balanced attack and has shown that in the 2006 season. Currently, the CCU offense ranks second in the nation in total offense at 470.2 yards a contest and has given up just 10 sacks in the 11 games, ranking seventh in I-AA in the category. The Chanticleers average 190.4 yards per game on the ground (19th nationally), with 279.8 yards of offense through the air (fourth in I-AA).
In the win at Wofford, CCU put together 288 yards through the air and 222 yards on the ground for a total of 510 offensive yards, the fourth most in school history. Coastal's second-best game of the year came in the win at VMI, as the Chanticleers totaled 555 yards of total offense (330 rushing, 225 passing). But the best game of the season was on Nov. 11, as CCU had a season-best 332 rushing yards and added 306 yards through the air for a school-record and Big South Conference game record 638 yards of total offense in the win at Gardner-Webb.
Getting After It In Big South Conference Play: The Chanticleers kicked up their play several notches in Big South Conference action this year. In four league games, Coastal is averaging 35.5 points, 514.8 yards of total offense, 236.5 rushing yards and 278.2 passing yards.
Third Down Conversions Are Always Key: And look at the success Coastal has had on third down to see why the Chanticleers are at 9-2 this season. For the year, CCU has converted on 50 percent (69-for-138) of its third down opportunities, while limiting opponents to just 38 percent (53-for-140) of their chances. In the nine wins, the Chants have converted at least 37 percent of its chances, while going 0-2 when falling below that bench mark (4-14 against Elon and 3-10 at Georgia Southern).
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. For the season, Coastal is now 42-for-53 (79.2 percent) in the red zone, 32 of which are touchdowns, while limiting opponents to 32-for-42 (76.2 percent) inside the 20.
Is There Too Much of a Good Thing?: And when we are talking of a good thing, we are talking about Coastal's much improved passing attack. Coastal has had at least 200 passing yards in all but one game (and that was 199 against South Carolina State). However, when the Chanticleers throw for 200-299 yards, they are 6-0 this season. When surpassing the 300-yard mark through the air, Coastal is 2-2 with its first win with 300-plus yards occurring at Gardner-Webb when quarterback Tyler Thigpen had 306 yards of passing.
Big Play Bonanza: Coastal's offense has shown the improvement this year and made the most of its opportunities, sometimes through big plays. The Chanticleers have 13 plays of 40 yards or more this year.
In the National Rankings: Coastal Carolina continues to make itself known in the national rankings, both as a team and individually. CCUs passing offense is ranked fourth in the nation at 279.8 yards per game and second in total offense at 470.2 yards per contest. The Chanticleers rank fourth nationally in passing efficiency at a 168.80 rating. CCU also leads the Big South and is seventh nationally in sacks allowed at 0.91 per game, fourth in the country at 34.8 points per game and 19th in rushing offense at 190.4 yards a contest.
The defense has also had its recognition, as Coastal ranks 12th in I-AA in pass defense at 146.4 yards per game and 12th in pass efficiency defense with a 102.65 rating.
Individually, several players rank in the top 50 nationally in the statistics. Quarterback Tyler Thigpen ranks second in I-AA in total offense at 320.6 yards per game, fourth in passing efficiency at a 169.86 rating and fourth in passing yards per game at 267.7 yards per contest. Wide receiver Jerome Simpson is 11th at 85.91 receiving yards per game, while 26th in scoring at 7.64 points per game and 39th in receptions per game at 4.91. Kicker Josh Hoke is tied for 26th in field goals per game at 0.91 and 37th in scoring at 7.0 points per contest. Defensively, linebacker Jamar Leath is 27th in tackles at 9.82 per game, while safeties Dewitt Myers (0.40) and Quinton Teal (0.31) are 21st and tied for 28th, interceptions per game, respectively.
Making the Aerial Assault Fly: Senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen has been stellar in the passing game this season. Added as a candidate for the Walter Payton Award (I-AAs version of the Heisman Trophy), Thigpen ranks second in all of I-AA with 325.3 yards of total offense per game, despite only playing a quarter and a half in the overwhelming win over Savannah State, Nov. 4. He also ranks fourth in passing efficiency (169.86) and fourth in passing yards per game (267.7) and has connected on 64.8 percent (193-for-298) of his passes this year.
He broke the schools single-season passing record in just six games and became the fastest passer to 1,000 and 2,000 yards in a season in league history this year. He enters todays game with league records of 2,945 passing yards and 26 touchdown passes with only 10 interceptions.
Thigpen opened the 2006 season with a record-setting performance against Elon, going 23-for-43 for 312 yards and one touchdown. The 312 yards were the first-ever 300-yard passing game in school history, while the 43 attempts are also a new school record. The passing yards are also the second-highest total in Brooks Stadium annals. He followed that up with 288 yards in the win at Wofford, Sept. 9. In that game, Thigpen connected with Santini Washington for an 80-yard touchdown strike, the longest offensive play in Coastal history. Thigpen then broke the single-game passing record at No. 24 Georgia Southern, throwing for 316 yards and two touchdowns. Most recently, he had a career-best 22-for-27 (81.5 percent) game for 306 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
He surpassed the 4,000-yard career mark in the game at No. 24 Georgia Southern, and the 6,000-yard passing mark in the win over Charleston Southern, a total currently at 6,247 career passing yards. He also surpassed the career total offense 7,000-yard total in the win over Savannah State, Nov. 4, now at 7,862 yards which ranks third all-time in league history. He trails Nick Roberts of Gardner-Webb by 10 yards for second place in Big South history.
Making the Catch: Junior wide receiver Jerome Simpson continues to show his ability to make the catch with his play on the field. This season, Simpson has continued to improve, as he has already had four games of more than 100 yards receiving, as well as six games with six or more receptions. He has already broken the school record for single-season yardage with 945, surpassing his own previous record of 527 last year. He also has 48 catches, a new school record, as well as a Big South record 14 touchdowns, including at least one touchdown in the last seven contests, all Coastal wins.
Simpson has already taken over on the CCU career chart, currently leading in all three categories with 112 catches for 1,891 yards and 31 touchdowns. The 1,891 yards rank third in the history of the Big South, as he was the 10th receiver in league history to hit the 1,000-yard receiving mark in his career. He also was the ninth player in league history with 100-plus catches. His 31 touchdowns are the Big South career lead in touchdown catches, surpassing William Andrews, Jr. of Gardner-Webb earlier this year at 21. Additionally, Coastal is a stellar 18-2 in games that Simpson has a touchdown reception.
He became the first CCU player ever to eclipse the 200-yard receiving mark in a single game, posting a record 207 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches at No. 24 Georgia Southern. The total was just three yards shy of the Big South record of 210.
He also showed his skills last season on the field. Against No. 1 James Madison last season, the Reidsville, N.C. native tied a school record with 10 receptions and set a new mark with 162 receiving yards. He also had two touchdown receptions, but his most memorable catch was an acrobatic, one-handed 27-yard catch that put CCU at the JMU 13 and led to the game-winning score. Additionally, Simpson surpassed his own single-season school records last season in the three main receiving categories. Last year, he had 33 receptions for 527 yards and nine touchdowns, bettering his freshman marks of 26 receptions for 419 yards and eight touchdowns.
Just Tell Him You Don't Want To Do The Bootleg: However, senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen has also gotten it done with his feet when called upon. He currently leads CCU and is fourth in the Big South with 633 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He became the leagues all-time quarterback rusher earlier this year, a mark that currently stands at 1,615 yards and ranks seventh on the Big South all-time rushing list. He also set a new Big South single-season quarterback rushing record, breaking the record he set last year and becoming the first quarterback in league annals to surpass the 600-yard single season rushing mark.
Recently, Thigpen posted a career-best 119 rushing yards in the win at Gardner-Webb, Nov. 11, including a 76-yard naked bootleg late in the fourth quarter that sealed the win. The 76-yard scamper was the fifth-longest rush in league history, while his 11.9 average per carry is the second-highest single-game average by any runner with at least 10 carries.
Last year against VMI, Oct. 29, 2005, he scampered a then school-record 77 yards for final score in the Homecoming victory over the Keydets. Thigpen rushed for a then career-high 112 yards, the ninth-best performance and 14th 100-yard game in Coastal history. In addition, the 77-yard touchdown run is currently the fourth longest rushing play from scrimmage in Big South history.
Thigpen's Assault on the Record Books: Senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen has engrained his name in the Coastal record books. Already the all-time leading passer in all major categories (attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns and rating), he owns the top-10 passing attempts, completions and yards record and 14 of the top 15 single-game touchdown pass marks.
He has also gotten it done with is feet, as he currently has the third-best single-season rushing yardage in Coastal history at 633. He ranks third on CCU's all-time chart with 1,615 yards on the ground and is tied for third with 12 rushing touchdowns.
He Makes The Stops: The answer is definitely yes in the case of senior linebacker Jamar Leath. This season, Leath is leading the team lead with 108, ranking 27th nationally at 9.82 tackles per contest and the third CCU player ever with 100 tackles in a single season. He has posted 356 career tackles, earlier this season becoming the fourth player in Big South history to record 300 career tackles and is now the league's all-time leader in total tackles. In the win over then No. 3 Furman, Leath posted a then season-best 14 tackles, just one off the school record he shares. He then followed it up with 13 stops in the win at VMI, Oct. 14 and then 15 tackles in the home win over Liberty, Oct. 28.
In 2005, Leath ranked third in the Big South and tied for 31st in I-AA nationally in total tackles at 9.82 tackles per game, while setting a new school record with 108 total tackles, the second CCU player to record 100 tackles in a single season. He set a new career best with 15 tackles and then tied it twice more during the season. He also tied for 29th nationally with three forced fumbles in 2005.
Finding The Promised Land: Senior running back Aundres Perkins has shown he has a nose for the end zone in his career. In just three seasons, Perkins was already the Big South Conference's career touchdown leader, a mark that now stands at 47 scores. Of the 47, all but one of them are on the ground and the lone receiving touchdown just occurred in the win at Gardner-Webb, Nov. 11. In 2005, Perk scored 12 touchdowns to match his 2004 total, while he tallied 14 scores his freshman season.
He also became just the fourth rusher in Big South history, and second from Coastal, to reach the 2,000-yard mark in his career. He posted 78 yards in the home win against South Carolina State, Sept. 23, to pass the mark and now sits at 2,289. He ranks third all-time in league history, just passing former teammate Patrick Hall at 2,214. He currently ranks second on the team in rushing this season with 545 yards (4.9 per carry) and a team-leading eight rushing touchdowns. He had his longest rush of the season in the win over Liberty, going 33 yards for a touchdown.
However, he has also been involved in the passing game, totaling career highs of 21 catches for 274 yards (13.0 yards per catch) and his first-ever receiving touchdown.
I Will Pick Your Pocket: Defensive back Quinton Teal has been cashing in on quarterback 'checks', having picked off a league-leading four passes last season, including one at Savannah State that he returned for a school-record 74 yards to set up CCUs first score. Last year, he tied for 15th in the country in interceptions (0.45 per game) and was also tied for 32nd in passes defended per game at 1.09. The senior led the league in picks in 2004 with a league-record six INTs, as well as currently being the Big South's all-time interception leader with 17.
Teal got his fourth interception of the year at Gardner-Webb, one of a school record five interceptions by the defense in the win over the host Bulldogs. He picked up his third pick of the season, this one in the Coastal end zone, in the win over Liberty to end the Flames' opening drive and thwart their scoring chance. Teal also had a pair of breakups and a blocked punt in the home win over South Carolina State, helping him earn Big South Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Myers Making the Move: Senior safety Dewitt Myers has been jumping into the fray for the Coastal defense. Myers has recorded interceptions in three of the last four games he has played in and has a career-high four picks on the year. He ranks second all-time for Coastal now with 10 career interceptions.
Kicking/Kickoffs: And that is what kicker Josh Hoke has done for the Chanticleers in his four-year career at Coastal. For his career, he is 175-of-181 in PATs and 40-for-62 on field goal attempts.
Hoke hit four of five field goal attempts in the opener against Elon and followed it up by going 5-for-5 on point after attempts in the win at Wofford. He had a current streak of 85 consecutive PATs made snapped as the line blocking didn't hold, resulting in a blocked PAT in the home win against Furman, Oct. 7, 2006.
Out of 57 kickoffs in 2005, Hoke has had 28 go for touchbacks, a very impressive 49.1 percent. He also hit 14 field goals on the year, tying for 12th in I-AA football at 1.27 made per game. He had three from 45 yards or beyond, with a career-long 49-yarder in the home win over Delaware State.
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 68-15 (81.9 percent) in his last 83 games as a head coach.
The Streak Continues: In its brief history of 44 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 last year at Appalachian State, with just a lone field goal.
Coastal Football Has Pair Named Academic All-District: Coastal's kicker Josh Hoke and offensive lineman Brad Poston were named to ESPN The Magazine Football Academic All-District First Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), announced by the organization. The pair will move on to the ballot for Academic All-American, to be announced Nov. 30.
The senior kicker was a 2005 CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team selection and has been a I-AA Athletic Directors All-Academic Honoree the past two seasons. He currently carries a 3.98 grade-point average in communications. A two-time First Team All-Big South kicker as well as All-Eastern Region selection, he is the Big South Conference's all-time leader with 262 points and 37 field goals.
A four-year starter on the offensive line (originally a walk-on), Poston has started all 42 games in his career, the only player at CCU to do that. A management major with a 3.87 GPA, he has been a mainstay for a team that has gone 33-10 in its first 43 games and been ranked in the top 25 the last three years.
Among The National Leaders in Attendance: Coastal has been one of the standouts in I-AA in attendance based on capacity in its first three seasons. Ranking in the top seven in the nation in each of the first two 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-AA team in attendance based on capacity at 114.3 percent.
Coastal has 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 now rank fourth in I-AA in attendance based on percentage of capacity at 112.52 percent.
This Week's Injury Report: On this week's injury report for the game at Appalachian State, Brian Kepple (low back), Chase Howe (left hamstring) and Quinton Teal (low back) are probable, with Racheed Gause (right knee) and D.J. Rice (right knee) questionable. Dewitt Myers (left foot) is doubtful, while Chris Walker (right ankle) and Ren McKinnon (right ankle) are out for the game. Brandon Whitley (knee), Louie Brock (knee), James Sims (foot),Scott Eubanks (knee), Chris McDonald (left ankle) and Adrain Grady (knee, shoulder) are out for the season.
Stadium Expansion: Sept. 2 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.
Pair of Chanticleers Earn Weekly Honors: Quarterback Tyler Thigpen has been named the Big South football Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week for games played during Week 11 (Nov. 11) of the 2006 season, it was announced by the Conference office, while defensive back Dominique Davenport garnered Freshman of the Week honors.
Also named a I-AA.org Weekly All-Star this week, Thigpen was standout in Coastals 52-24 win over Gardner-Webb. He was 22-of-27 passing (81.5 percent) for 306 yards and two touchdowns, and added 119 rushing yards on 10 carries to finish with a school-record 425 yards of total offense. He connected on his first five pass attempts en route to his third 300-yard passing game of the year and his seventh 300+ total offense game of the season (Big South record). Thigpen directed Coastal to six touchdown drives of 75 yards-or-longer as well as 638 total yards, a record for a Big South Conference match-up. His 76-yard run in the fourth quarter was the fifth-longest rush from scrimmage in Big South history, and he became the first player in League history to surpass 3,000 yards of total offense in a season and the first quarterback in Big South history to rush for 500 yards in a campaign.
Davenport helped fill in for the injured Dewitt Myers and recorded a career-best seven tackles (three solo, four assists) in the road win at Gardner-Webb, tying for third-highest on the squad. He helped the Chanticleers defense hold Gardner-Webb to 97 total yards in the first half as well force a League-record five interceptions, including four in the second half.
Records Set in Win at Gardner-Webb: The Chanticleers set several team and individual marks in the resounding victory at Gardner-Webb, Nov. 11. As a squad, Coastal racked up a school-record 638 yards of total offense, the most ever in a game between two Big South Conference foes. CCU had a season-high 332 yards rushing in the effort. The defense got in to the act as well, picking off five Bulldog passes to tie the team record.
Individually, quarterback Tyler Thigpen totaled a school record 425 yards of total offense (306 passing, career-best 119 rushing). He also became the first Big South player ever to surpass the 3,000-yard total offense mark in a single season, currently a mark of 3,578. Fullback Mike Tolbert tied a career-best with three rushing touchdowns, while defensive lineman Sam Harper recorded a career-best two sacks in the win.
Teal Earns Second Big South Player of the Week Award: Safety Quinton Teal has been named the Big South football New Balance Defensive Player of the Week for games played during Week Nine (Oct. 28) of the 2006 season, it was announced by the Conference office. This is the second time this season that Teal has garnered the honor, as he was also given the award on Sept. 25 for his play in the home win over South Carolina State.
Teal recorded a career-high 13 tackles in the 28-26 home win over Liberty, Oct. 28. He had one tackle for loss, but his biggest play may have been an interception on Libertys opening drive of the game, where he intercepted a pass in the end zone to thwart the Flames scoring opportunity on first-and-goal. Teal is the Big Souths all-time interception leader with 17.
Tolbert Named Big South Offensive Player of the Week: Coastal Carolina fullback Mike Tolbert was named the Big South Football Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week for games played during Week Seven (Oct. 14) of the 2006 season, it was announced today by the Conference office.
Tolbert had the best game of his Coastal career in helping the Chanticleers to two Big South records and a road win at Conference foe VMI. Tolbert rushed for a career-high and team season-high 151 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries (18.9 average). He also had two catches for 32 yards to finish with 183 all-purpose yards. Tolbert first scored on a 30-yard run up the middle where he broke no fewer than four tackles. He later scampered 80 yards, outrunning the entire VMI defense, for a score and tying the Big South record for longest rush from scrimmage. Tolbert helped Coastals running game average a Big South single-game record of 11.8 yards per rush (28 for 330), as well as set the League mark for average gain per play at 9.9 (555 total yards on 56 plays).
Coastal Players Earns National Honors: The awards also followed the televised victory over Furman, Oct. 7. The squad was named National Team of the Week by The Sports Network. Junior wide receiver Jerome Simpson was named National Co-Offensive Player of the Week by The Sports Network, while senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen was honored as CollegeSportsReport.com's Division I-AA Performer of the Week.
Simpson, also the Big South Offensive Player of the Week, had a big effort with nine receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns and make key plays to lift Coastal Carolina to a 29-27 upset over Furman. He caught a three-yard TD pass to tie the score at 21 early in the fourth quarter, then notched the game-winning touchdown with an eight-yard reception with 5:41 to play in the game. Simpson had three catches for 20 yards or more and seven first-down receptions.
Thigpen connected on 21 of 33 passing for 274 yards and three scores. He also added 57 yards and a score on 16 rushes on the ground. Thigpen opened the games scoring with a four-yard toss to Perry Parks. He then put the Chants up 14-7 following a 12-yard scamper. However, it was in the fourth quarter where Thigpen shined, tossing a pair of scores to Simpson. His second touchdown pass knotted the game at 21, and his third of the game gave CCU the huge win.
Three Chanticleers Earn Weekly Big South Accolades: Coastal Carolina wide receiver Jerome Simpson and linebacker Jamar Leath 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 Six of the 2006 season, it was announced by the Conference office. In addition, Coastal Carolina defensive back Sean Lundy was selected as Special Teams Player of the Week.
Simpson had one of his best games of the season Saturday in Coastal's 29-27 upset win over No. 3 Furman, recording a team season-high of nine catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, of Simpson's catches, three of them were for 20 yards or more during the game and seven went for first downs. On CCU's opening scoring drive, the junior had two catches for 64 yards to get the Chanticleers in position for their first score of the game. He later scored the game-tying touchdown (21-21) early in the fourth quarter, then added the game-winning score (29-27) with 5:48 left to play. Most of Simpson's nine catches were acrobatic and timely, and went for distances of 42, 22, 34, 8, 16, 8, 3, 10 and 8.
Leath recorded a season-high 14 tackles (one off his career best) to lead the Chanticleers to a win over No. 3 Furman. The senior had five solo tackles, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble in the win. He also had a hand in stopping a crucial fourth-and-nine late in the game that gave Coastal the ball back, as he defended the intended receiver. With his 14 tackles, he became just the fourth player in Big South history to record 300 career tackles and currently sits in second-place all-time at 307, needing one to tie the Big South career record and two stops to take over the career lead.
Lundy made the special teams play of the night in the thrilling 29-27 win over No. 3 Furman Saturday. With Furman taking a 27-21 lead at 9:35 in the fourth quarter, senior Quinton Teal blocked the extra point attempt and Lundy scooped up the ball and scampered 85 yards to the end zone for two points -- which ended up being the difference in giving CCU the win. It was the first-ever two-point PAT return in the history of the Chanticleers program.
Record Setting Night: The Chanticleers had two Big South Conference records set in the win at Winston-Salem State, Sept. 30. Quarterback Tyler Thigpen took over as the all-time leading quarterback rusher, passing Nick Roberts of Gardner-Webb and finishing the night with 1,233 career yards. Wide receiver Jerome Simpson had a pair of touchdown receptions and became the Big South career touchdown receptions leader with 23, moving ahead of William Andrews, Jr., also of Gardner-Webb, with 21.
Thigpen Earns Second Big South Weekly Honor: Quarterback Tyler Thigpen has been named the Big South football Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week for games played during Week Five of the 2006 season, it was announced by the Conference office. This is the second time this season and sixth time in his career that Thigpen has earned the weekly honor.
Thigpen was 19-of-26 passing (73.1 percent) for 279 yards and a school-record four touchdowns in Coastals 31-12 win at Winston-Salem State. He finished with a 213.98 passing efficiency against the Rams, while his 73.1 completion percentage is seventh-best in League history. Thigpen also rushed for a team-high 57 yards and finished the day with 336 yards of total offense his fourth game this season over 300 total yards, a Big South single-season record. He had a long rush of 50 yards in the third quarter, and became the Big Souths all-time leading quarterback rusher during the contest, finishing with 1,233 to pass Gardner-Webbs Nick Roberts (1,182).
Teal Earns Defensive Honor: Senior safety Quinton Teal was honored as Big South Conference Football Choice Hotels Defensive Player of the Week, the league announced Sept 25. Teal posted eight tackles, including six solos, and two pass break-ups in Coastals 33-14 home win over South Carolina State. Playing on a defense without five starters Saturday, Teal had five stops and one break-up in the second half that led the Chanticleers to limiting the visiting Bulldogs to just 46 yards of total offense in a dominating second-half performance. One of his pass break-ups kept SCSU out of the end zone, as he dislodged the ball with a hit at CCUs three-yard line and SCSU was not able to cash in on the drive for points. He also stepped in on special teams by blocking a punt and returning kicks -- the first time he has been a returner since his senior year in high school.
Pair Earn Weekly Big South Honors: Coastal Carolina's junior wide receiver Jerome Simpson was named Big South Conference Football Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week, while wide receiver Jamar Anderson earned Freshman of the Week honors, the league announced Sept. 18. This is the second consecutive week a CCU player has earned a Big South award, as senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen was Co-Offensive Player of the Week last week.
Simpson posted one of the best games in Big South history at No. 17 Georgia Southern. He recorded eight catches for a school-record 207 yards and two touchdowns (30 and 58 yards). His 207-yard game is only the second 200-yard receiving game in League history (three shy of the record), while his two touchdowns move his career total to 21, tying him with William Andrews, Jr. (Gardner-Webb) for the Big South career touchdown receptions lead. During a second-quarter drive, Simpson caught a pair of passes, the first for 50 yards and the second for 30 to complete the two-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in 0:36. Seven of his eight catches were at least 10 yards (14, 10, 23, 50, 30, 14, 58) while six went for first downs.
Anderson was Coastals second-leading receiver Saturday at Georgia Southern. He had four catches for 52, a season best for the freshman. In just his second game of collegiate action, Anderson had two catches that gave the Chanticleers first downs, and he hauled in three passes and 47 yards during one drive, including a personal-best 33-yard reception. His four catches were the third-most by a CCU receiver this year.
He Was Offensive To The Terriers: Senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen was named the Big South Conference's Co-Offensive Player of the Week, announced by the league, Sept. 11. This is the fifth time in his career that Thigpen has been awarded the weekly honor, sharing that week's with Charleston Southern quarterback Collin Drafts. Thigpen was also honored by CollegeSportsReport.com as its I-AA National Performer of the Week and by Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette as a I-AA National Offensive Player of the Week.
Thigpen was key for the Chanticleers in their dramatic 41-38 road victory at No. 27 Wofford. He was 13-of-20 through the air for 288 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, and added 10 carries for a team-high 94 yards and one score on the ground. Thigpen, whose 382 yards of total offense is the fourth-highest single-game performance in Big South history, directed the Chanticleers on six scoring drives of 61 yards or more, including four of 80 yards or more. He connected with receiver Santini Washington for an 80-yard touchdown pass, the longest play in CCU history and third-longest in Big South history. His 288 yards were then the second most single-game passing yards in school history, while his 94 rushing yards are sixth-most in a game by a Big South quarterback. Thigpen also became the second quarterback in League history to surpass the 1,000-yard rushing mark in his career.
Weekly Big South Teleconference: Each Tuesday during the 2006 season, all five 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 Conferences 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 (email@example.com) or Mark Simpson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the dial-in phone number and code.