(15) CCU football becomes bowl eligible with 52-20 win at Arkansas State


JONESBORO, Ark. – The No. 15 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers led from start to finish in a 52-20 win over the Arkansas State Red Wolves on Thursday night in Jonesboro, Ark. With the win, the Chanticleers became the first FBS team to become bowl eligible this season.

The win marks the 11th-straight Sun Belt Conference win for the Chanticleers, the sixth-straight overall victory this season, and the second-consecutive win over the Arkansas State Red Wolves (1-5, 0-2 SBC).

The win is also the first-ever for the Chanticleers at Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro, Ark., and the first-ever in the state of Arkansas.

Coastal earned the win in record-setting fashion, as the offense’s 685 total yards were the second-most ever in a single game in CCU history behind only 690 yards at Charlotte (Nov. 18) back in 2014.

The offense passed for 391 yards, a season-high, and rushed for 294 yards on the ground, and scored on eight of its 13 offensive possessions in the victory.

CCU’s offense was led by the career-night of senior tight end Isaiah Likely who set a single-game CCU record with four touchdown catches, set the second-highest mark in receiving yards by a Coastal player in a single game with 232 yards, and had a career-high eight catches on nine targets.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Grayson McCall threw for a career-high 365 yards on 18-for-23 passing and matched his career-high with four touchdown passes.

On the ground, both Bryce Carpenter (67 yards) and Reese White (64 yards) had career-long touchdown rushes in the fourth quarter, while senior running back Shermari Jones returned after missing the last two games to carry the ball 10 times for 113 yards and a score.

The “Black Swarm” defense was dominant over the first half of play, keeping the Red Wolves out of the end zone for the first 30 minutes of play, and held the Red Wolves to just 273 total yards of offense on 255 passing yards and only 18 rushing yards.

The 18 rushing yards allowed were the fourth-fewest by a CCU defense in a single game in program history and marked the 10th time that the defense has held opponents under 100 yards rushing under defensive coordinator Chad Staggs.

Co-captain Silas Kelly once again led the defensive swarm, as he finished with a team-high six tackles, 1.5 tackle-for-loss, and 1.5 sacks, while fellow co-captain linebacker Teddy Gallagher had five total stops and 1.0 tackle-for-loss.

Fellow veteran defenders C.J. Brewer and Jeffrey Gunter aided with the Chants’ 4.0 sacks and 8.0 tackles-for-loss, as Brewer finished with two tackles, 1.0 sack, 1.0 tackle-for-loss, and one interception, while Gunter added three tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 1.5 tackles-for-loss in the win.

For A-State offensively, backup quarterback Layne Hatcher was 13-for-29 for 185 yards and two touchdowns, while 10 different receivers had at least once catch on the night led by Te’Vailance Hunt’s six catches for 138 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively for the Red Wolves, Anthony Switzer led the way with six solo tackles, while three other A-State players followed with five stops each.

After winning the coin toss, deferring to receive the ball in the second half, and then forcing the Arkansas State offense to punt after just five plays and 19 yards, the Coastal offense found itself on their own one-yard line to start their ensuing drive.

Following a run up the middle for no gain, the Chants ran a play-action-pass and found a wide open Likely who caught the ball and outran the Red Wolves’ defense for the 99-yard touchdown score to put the visitors in white on top 7-0 with 11:37 to go in the opening frame.

CCU’s offense quickly got the ball back minutes later by holding the A-State offense to just four yards on six plays and looked to double its lead by picking up four first downs and driving down to the A-State one-yard line.

However, a stop for a loss of one on a third down rush forced the Chants to settle for a 19-yard field goal from senior placekicker Massimo Biscardi to put the score at 10-0 with 1:45 to go in the first quarter.

The two teams traded punts, as the “Black Swarm” forced a three-and-out prior to Charles Ouverson’s first punt of the night, before the A-State offense stalled again on just four plays to give the ball back to the Coastal offense with 10:04 to go in the half.

Coastal used just eight plays, highlighted by a 25-yard pass and catch from McCall to Jaivon Heiligh on a second-and-6 and an 11-yard completion from Carpenter to Likely on a second-and-2 to set up a booming eight-yard touchdown run by Jones to push the visitors lead out to 17-0 with 5:56 to go before the halftime break.

CCU capped off the strong first 30 minutes of play with a second three-and-out on defense and then scored on a seven-play, 51-yard drive, in just 4:10 on another touchdown pass from McCall to Likely, this time just four yards out, to send the game into the halftime break at 24-0 in favor of the Chants.

The momentum carried over to the second half for the men in white, as the Chants opened the half with a 38-yard run up the middle by Jones followed by a three-yard QB run from Carpenter. After an 18-yard pass from McCall to Kameron Brown, the duo of McCall and Likely connected for a third time on the night, this time scoring on a 16-yard pass to cap a four-play, 75-yard drive, and extend the lead to 31-0 with 13:17 to go in the third quarter of play.

For the first time all season, the “Black Swarm” defense surrendered a passing touchdown on the first Arkansas State drive of the third quarter, as the Red Wolves went to the right arm of backup quarterback Thatcher who was 5-for-7 through the air for 46 yards, highlighted by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Hatcher to Corey Rucker to break up the shutout and put the score at 31-7 with 9:06 to go in the third quarter.

The Chants quickly answered the Red Wolves score with a score of their own, as McCall found a wide open Likely along the Coastal sideline for a 64-yard pass and catch for their fourth touchdown of the game to cap a three-play, 82-yard drive in just 1:32 to pull back out in front by 30-plus points at 38-7 with 7:29 remaining in the third frame.

However, the high-scoring quarter continued, as less than 30-seconds later, on just their third play of their ensuing offensive series, the Red Wolves picked up a 63-yard touchdown catch from Hatcher to Hunt to cut the Coastal lead to 38-14 with 6:53 left before the start of the fourth quarter.

The two defenses then bowed their necks, as the Chants punted on each of their next two offensive possessions to sandwich a punt by the Red Wolves who looked to chip away into the Coastal lead once more in the early goings of the fourth quarter.

The Red Wolves continued their hot hand on offense, as the home team had three double-digit plays and took advantage of a questionable unnecessary roughness call to move the ball down to the one-yard line on a 21-yard catch across the middle by Adam Jones.

Two plays later, the Red Wolves’ Lincoln Pare bullied his way in from one-yard out to help the home team trim the Coastal lead to 38-20 with 12:21 following the failed two-point conversion.

After back-to-back punts over their last two possessions, the Chants’ offense got back on track with a 19-yard completion from McCall to Likely, followed by a 64-yard breakout run up the middle by White which found pay dirt to push the visitors lead back out to 25 points at 45-20 with 11:28 to go in the contest.

The Chants added to its lead with another career-long rush, as Carpenter outran everyone for a 67-yard touchdown run on the next offense series to cap a three-play, 76-yard drive, CCU’s seventh scoring drive that went for five plays or less, to push the Chants’ over the 50-point for the third-straight game at 52-20 with 7:49 to go in the game.

The defense capped off the game with an interception by Brewer, the first of his career, and forced a punt before running out the clock to seal the 32-point SBC road win.

The Chanticleers (6-0, 2-0 SBC) will have an open week next week before returning to the road to take on Appalachian State (4-1, 1-0 SBC) in a pivotal Sun Belt Conference East Division showdown on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.


  • CCU moves to 6-0 on the season overall to become the first FBS team to become bowl eligible in 2021.
  • With the win, the Chanticleers improve to 6-0 for the second-straight season and the fifth time in program history (2013, 2014, 2015, 2020, and 2021).
  • Pushes the Chants’ winning streak to six-straight games this year and to seven-straight games in true road contests dating back to 2019.
  • CCU’s SBC win on Thursday night marks the 11th-straight conference win for the Chants, again dating back to 2019.
  • Coastal’s 52 points marked the third-straight game in which the offense scored 50-points or more.
  • CCU’s 685 total yards were the second-most ever in a single game in CCU history behind only 690 yards at Charlotte (Nov. 18) back in 2014.
  • The 18 rushing yards allowed were the fourth-fewest by a CCU defense in a single game in program history.
  • The 99-yard touchdown pass from Grayson McCall to Isaiah Likely is the longest touchdown play from the line of scrimmage for the Chants in program history.
  • The 99-yard score is tied for the second-longest scoring play in CCU history behind a 100-yard kickoff return by Devin Brown at Furman (Sept. 5, 2015).
  • With his first pass completion of the game, the 99-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Likely, Grayson McCall tied the school record for most consecutive completions with 16 (Last two versus UMass, 13 against ULM, and one at A-State).
  • The 99-yard scoring drive was the second 99-yard scoring drive of the season for the CCU offense who drove 99-yards in nine plays and 4:27 in the win over UMass (Sept. 25).
  • For the first time all season, the Chanticleers gave up a passing touchdown in the third quarter. They were the last team in all of college football to allow a passing touchdown this season.
  • Isaiah Likely set a new career-high in receiving yards (232) and touchdown receptions (4), and a career-high with eight catches on the night.
  • The four touchdown catches by Likely are a single-game record and the last time a CCU player had three touchdown catches in a single game was Matt Hazel versus Liberty (Nov. 13) in 2010.
  • With his four touchdown passes for the game, Grayson McCall tied his career-high and has now thrown two or more touchdowns in a single game 14 times over just 19 games played.
  • Grayson McCall’s 365 passing yards were also a career-high.
  • Reese White’s 64-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was the longest rush of his career.
  • Bryce Carpenter’s 67-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was the longest rush of his career.
  • CJ Brewer’s interception in the fourth quarter was the first of his career.

Courtesy – Coastal Carolina Athletics

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