CONWAY, S.C. – With a 35-28 lead and facing a fourth-and-4 from on their own 31-yard line in the fourth quarter, Coastal Carolina defensive tackle C.J. Brewer ran a fake punt for 12 yards for a first down to help put the game away as the No. 24 Chanticleers held on for the 35-28 win over the Troy Trojans on a rainy night in Conway, S.C.
The Chanticleers moved to 7-1 overall and 3-1 in Sun Belt play with the win, while the Trojans fell to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in league play with the loss.
CCU was 10-of-17 on third-down attempts, compared to Troy’s 5-of-15.
Coastal totaled 510 yards of offense, including 294 passing yards and 216 rushing yards, against the number one defense in the Sun Belt. Troy was held to 389 total yards of offense, despite rushing for a season-high 164 yards in the loss.
The offensive line held Troy to just 1.0 sack and just 3.0 tackles-for-loss, while the Chants’ offense held to the ball for 32:53 minutes of the contest.
The Chants’ defense held the Trojans to 145 total yards of offense in the second half and recorded three sacks including the final offensive play of the game for Troy.
Coastal’s Grayson McCall led the offense, as the redshirt sophomore quarterback was 14-for-26 for 294 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, while also rushing 15 times for 59 yards and a score on the ground.
Senior wideout Jaivon Heiligh made history, as he recorded his 10th-career 100-yard receiving game, a new CCU program record, as he hauled in five passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. Isaiah Likely matched Heiligh with a team-high five receptions for 64 yards, while running back Braydon Bennett caught two passes for 84 yards and his first career receiving touchdown.
On the ground, senior Shermari Jones led the way with 14 carries on 95 yards and two touchdowns, marking the third game this season where he rushed for two touchdowns in the same game.
Defensively, the Chants’ Enock Makonzo led the way with a career-high 11 tackles and three quarterback hurries, while both Silas Kelly and Shi’heem Watkins finished with 10 tackles each, a new career-high for Watkins.
Redshirt senior Jeffrey Gunter finished with four tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery, while freshman Josaiah Stewart finished with five tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, and a forced fumble in the win.
Troy was led by Kimani Vidal’s game-high 142 rushing yards and one touchdown, as he carried the ball 22 times, while quarterback Gunnar Watson was 17-for-30 for 225 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
Wideout Tez Johnson tallied four catches for 88 yards and a score and was joined by Jabre Barber (3 receptions, 54 yards, TD), and Deyunkrea Lewis (1 reception, 11 yards, TD) with a receiving touchdown on the night.
All-Sun Belt performer Carlton Martial picked up a game-high 14 tackles, becoming the all-time leading tackler in Sun Belt history, to lead the Troy defense while no other Trojan had more than six tackles on the night.
The Trojans jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on their second offensive possession, as the visitors in white used a 64-yard catch and run from Johnson to take the ball down to the Coastal 15-yard line on a first-and-10.
Three plays later, Watson found a wide-open Lewis in the corner of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown pass to cap the four-play, 79-yard drive in just 56 seconds to go up 7-0 with 12:04 to go in the opening quarter.
After going three-and-out over the first two possessions, the offense found its stride on its third series as the Chants drove 10 plays and 80 yards to tie the game up on a two-yard touchdown plunge by McCall with 1:34 to go in the first quarter.
The touchdown drive was highlighted by a 22-yard catch from Heiligh on a third-and-12 and a 24-yard run by running back Reese White on a third-and-1 to keep the drive alive.
The Chants carried the momentum over into the second quarter as the defense forced a three-and-out, their second of the game, to give the ball back to the offense at the 27-yard line.
Three plays later, the “Teal Team 6” offense picked up a first down and more, as McCall hit a streaking Heiligh down the left sideline for a 66-yard score to put the men in black on top 14-7 with 14:05 to go in the second quarter.
Troy looked ready to tie the score up again, driving down to the CCU 38-yard line on the ensuing drive until a 10-yard sack and forced fumble by CCU’s Gunter ended the drive and pushed the Trojans out of field goal range back to their 43-yard line.
The CCU offense took over and again went to the air for an explosive play, as McCall hit a sprinting Bennett out of the backfield on a wheel-route over top of the defense for a 71-yard touchdown score to put the home team in front 21-7 with 7:57 left in the opening half.
The drive took just four plays and went 87 yards in just 2:05 off the game clock.
Troy answered the Chants with a score of its own, as on a fourth-and-2 Watson found Barber across the middle on a slant play who raced down the field for a 42-yard score to cut the CCU lead to seven at 21-14 following the Brooks Buce PAT.
Penalties would hamper both teams’ subsequent drives to give the ball back to the Chants with 3:11 to go in the first half.
Coastal would drive down to the Troy 29-yard line before McCall was picked off on the left sideline by Reddy Steward to end the drive and give the Trojans the ball back with 1:16 on the game clock.
The “Black Swarm” defense stepped up in a big way by forcing a three-and-out highlighted by a nine-yard sack by the tandem of Stewart and Gunter to force the Trojans to punt for the sixth time of the opening half.
Coastal would run one play before taking a 21-14 lead to the halftime break.
CCU would get the ball to start the second half and methodically drive down the field, using 14 plays and 8:24 off the game clock to go 78 yards and double up the Trojans at 28-14 with 6:36 in the third quarter.
On the drive, the Chants’ rushed the ball 10 times, and after McCall left the game due to an apparent injury, senior quarterback Bryce Carpenter led the Chants in from the 24-yard line to take the double-digit lead.
With the rain steadily falling, the Trojans went to the ground game, as Vidal and B.J. Smith combined to run eight times for 73 yards to drive down the field and cut the Coastal lead back to seven at 28-21 with 2:26 to go in the third quarter on a five-yard touchdown run by Vidal.
The two teams traded punts before McCall took control of the game. He opened the next Coastal drive with an eight-yard pass to Likely, then rushed for four yards for the first down. Following back-to-back incompletions, McCall found Heiligh who tip-toed on the sideline for a 14-yard catch on a third-and-10 to keep the drive alive
On the next play, Jones broke through the line, hurdled a Trojan defender, and then raced to the end zone for a 54-yard touchdown run to extend the Chants’ lead back to 14 points at 35-21 with 11:23 to go in the contest.
Troy would not go away, however, as the Trojans again closed the gap to one score at 35-28 with an eight-play, 41-yard drive, after taking over on their own 41-yard line following a 34-yard punt from the Chanticleers.
The Troy drive was capped off by an 18-yard pass and catch with Watson and Johnson to trim the Coastal Carolina lead to seven with 4:52 left in the contest.
Following the fake punt, CCU was forced to punt the ball back to the Trojans with 25 seconds left.
However, on the very first play of the Troy offensive series, Watson was sacked by Stewart and fumbled the ball where Gunter recovered the loose ball to seal the 35-28 conference win.
The Chanticleers (7-1, 3-1 SBC) will hit the road to take on Georgia Southern (2-5, 1-3 SBC) on Saturday, Nov. 6. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. ET from Statesboro, Ga.
- CCU improved to 7-1 overall on the season and 3-1 in Sun Belt Conference play with the win.
- The win pushes the Chants’ home winning streak to 12-straight games, one shy of the school record of 13-consecutive home wins from 2012-14.
- The victory extended CCU’s winning streak to three-straight over Troy.
- With their 66-yard and 71-yard touchdown plays in the second quarter and the 54-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, the Chants now have posted eight touchdown plays of 50-yards or more in the last three games (Arkansas State, Appalachian State, and Troy).
- The Coastal defense forced a season-high five three-and-outs.
- CCU was 1-of-1 on fourth-down attempts on the night to remain perfect on the season at 7-of-7.
- With his 116 receiving yards in the contest, senior wideout Jaivon Heiligh now has 10 career 100-yard receiving games, a new CCU program record surpassing Jerome Simpson’s nine career 100-yard receiving games.
- Enock Makonzo recorded a career-high 11 total tackles in the win.
- Shi’heem Watkins picked up a career-high 10 total tackles in the victory.
- Coastal’s Braydon Bennett recorded his first career touchdown reception with the 71-yard catch in the second quarter.
- Jaivon Heiligh’s touchdown catch in the second quarter was his fifth of the season and the first since game four versus UMass (Sept. 25).
- The 54-yard touchdown run by Shermari Jones in the fourth quarter was the longest run of his career.
- The 8:24 scoring drive in the third quarter was the longest of the season for the Chanticleers.