CONWAY, S.C. – Nationally-ranked No. 22/24 Coastal Carolina routed The Citadel Bulldogs 52-14 in front of 16,236 fans inside Brooks Stadium on Thursday night in the two teams’ season opener. The win marks the eighth straight home win for the Chanticleers on the “Surf Turf”.
Coastal’s offense tallied 610 total yards of offense and scored on eight of their 10 offensive possessions, while the defense held The Citadel to just 237 total yards of offense and forced six punts in the win.
CCU’s 610 yards of offense is the second-most in a game since moving to the FBS level in 2017, as the Chants ran up 636 yards of total offense at UMass in 2019.
The Chants outpassed the Bulldogs 348-14, which is expected as the Bulldogs run the triple option. However, CCU also outrushed the Bulldogs 262-223 in the win.
The ground attack led the way for the Chants in the season-opening win as senior running back Shermari Jones ran for a career-high 100 yards on nine carries and two scores, while junior running back Reese White also found pay dirt twice on seven carries and 62 yards.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Grayson McCall was stellar once again in leading the offensive attack, as the second-year starter was 16-for-19 for 262 yards and one touchdown through the air and rushed two times for 24 yards on the ground.
Eight different Chants tallied at least one reception on the night led by senior Jaivon Heiligh and hissix catches for 133 yards and a touchdown and senior tight end Isaiah Likely with five grabs for 64 yards.
Fellow tight end Xavier Gravette had two catches for 54 yards and his first touchdown as a Chanticleer, while out of the backfield redshirt freshman running back Braydon Bennett totaled 82 yards of offense on the night with 49 rushing yards and 33 receiving yards to go along with one touchdown run.
The Citadel’s offense was led by quarterback Jaylan Adams and his 100 rushing yards on 16 carries, while both Nathan Storch (23 carries, 65 yards, TD) and Raleigh Webb (1 carry, 8 yards, TD) each had a score on the ground.
Defensively, the Chants were led by the guys up front as super senior C.J. Brewer had nine total tackles, while fellow defensive lineman Travis Geiger Jr. added a career-high eight stops on the night.
For the Bulldogs defensively, linebacker Willie Eubanks III had a game-high 13 tackles followed by Anthony Britton Jr.’s seven stops and Wilson Hendricks III five total tackles.
The Chanticleers struck first and often as the first play from the line of scrimmage on offense was a 23-yard rush by Bennett off the left side. Two plays later, McCall found Bennett for a 22-yard gain which was followed by a 28-yard rush by Jones and a two-yard plunge by the senior to put the home team on top 7-0 with 8:40 to in the opening quarter.
After the defense forced a second consecutive Bulldogs’ punt the following possession, the Chants used another big play to start their second offensive series with a 28-yard pass down the left sideline to Heiligh.
The Chants continued to move the ball down the field, picking up first downs on a 19-yard pass and catch once again with McCall and Heiligh, and a seven-yard scamper on a fourth-and-1 by White on The Citadel 31-yard line to end the first quarter with the ball on the Bulldogs’ 24-yard-line.
The first play of the second quarter would be a 20-yard strike down the middle from McCall to Likely before White capped the scoring drive with a four-yard rush off the right side of the line to push the Chants’ lead to 14-0 less than a minute into the second period.
The trend continued as the “Black Swarm” defense forced another Bulldog punt, this time by way of back-to-back tackles-for-loss to end the drive and give the ball back to the offense.
This time the Chants used just four plays, all going over 10-yards or more before a 16-yard rush from White gave him his second touchdown of the game and push the men in black’s lead out to 21-0 with 8:38 to go in the opening half of play.
Following the first three-and-out of the contest, the Coastal’s offense struck again as five different Chants touched the ball on the ensuing drive, which was capped off by a 29-yard run by White and a 30-yard touchdown pass from McCall to Heiligh as the senior joined in on the scoring to push the Chants’ lead to 28-0 with 2:48 left before the halftime break.
Refusing to quit, the Bulldogs picked up one first down and 17 yards on their next drive before Coastal’s defense again forced a punt, the fifth of the half, to take over at their own 16-yard line with 53 seconds remaining in the first half.
McCall led the offense down to The Citadel’s 17-yard line, highlighted by a catch and leap over a Bulldog defender by Likely to set up a 34-yard field goal by senior kicker Massimo Biscardi to send the home team into the locker room up 31-0 at the intermission.
Coastal kept the gas pedal down out of the halftime break, as the Chants opened the second half with the ball and drove 75 yards in just four plays, as Jones found the endzone for the second time of the game with a 38-yard scamper to put the home team up big at 38-0.
However, The Citadel had an answer in the third quarter, as the Bulldogs used 13 rushing attempts to go 65 yards in just over seven minutes of play to score on a one-yard dive by down back Storch with 6:08 left in the third quarter to get on the scoreboard at 38-7.
Another big play on the offensive side for the Chants on a 49-yard pass and catch from Bryce Carpenter to Gravette just five plays later extended the Chants scoring success at seven straight series and put Coastal on top 45-7 following the PAT from Biscardi.
The two teams traded punts before the Bulldogs found the end zone once more, this time on an eight-yard run from Webb to cap a 13-play drive to put the score at 45-14 with 7:10 to go in the game.
Looking to get some experience for some younger guys, the Chanticleers went to the bench where redshirt sophomore Jarrett Guest completed two passes to wideouts Tyler Roberts and Deon Fountain and handed the ball off to redshirt freshman running back Isaiah Connelly and Bennett a combined six times with the last one being a four-yard touchdown run by Bennett to cap the scoring at 52-14.
The Chanticleers (1-0) will return home next week to host the Kansas Jayhawks on Friday night, Sept. 10, at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
- Coastal is now 13-7 all-time in season openers with the win on Thursday night.
- The Chanticleers have now won eight straight games at home, which dates back to the 2019 season.
- The victory is the first win over a fellow South Carolina school since 2016.
- Shermari Jones’ 100 rushing yards marks his first 100-yard rushing game as a Chanticleer.
- With his 133 receiving yards, wideout Jaivon Heiligh has now recorded three-straight 100-yard receiving games (Troy – Dec. 12, 2020; Liberty – Dec. 26, 2020, and The Citadel – Sept. 3).
- The 16,236 in attendance was the second-largest crowd for a football game at Brooks Stadium behind only the 17,249 in attendance in the contest versus Georgia State on Oct. 12, 2019.
- CCU’s 610 yards of offense was the second-most in a game since moving to the FBS level in 2017, as the Chants ran up 636 yards of total offense at UMass in 2019.
- Junior transfer Xavier Gravette recorded his first career touchdown catch as a Chanticleer in the third quarter.
- Tyler Roberts made his first career catch as a Chant in the fourth quarter.
- With his two complete passes in the fourth quarter, redshirt sophomore Jarrett Guest is now 9-for-9 all-time in passing for his CCU career.
- Redshirt junior defensive lineman Travis Geiger Jr. recorded a career-high eight tackles in only his second career start as a Chant.
- Redshirt freshmen Braylon Ryan and Braydon Bennett, and junior transfer Jacob Proche all made their first career starts on Thursday night.
Courtesy – Coastal Carolina Athletics