CONWAY, S.C. – Coastal Carolina football held the Georgia State Panthers scoreless in the fourth quarter but couldn’t overcome a double-digit deficit in a 31-21 Sun Belt home loss to GSU on Saturday evening at Brooks Stadium on Family and Hall of Fame Weekend.
The crowd of 17,249 on Saturday evening is the largest crowd to see a football game in Brooks Stadium, surpassing the previous mark of 15,991 versus Georgia State on Oct. 7, 2017, also on Family Weekend.
Georgia State totaled 472 yards on the day, including 350 yards on the ground. Coastal did most of its work through the air, passing for 217 of a total 322 yards for the game. The Chants struggled on third downs, converting just 4-of-14 attempts and were hampered by seven penalties that cost 65 yards. In comparison, Georgia State converted 10-of-19 third-down plays and committed just two penalties for the entire game.
Sophomore quarterback Fred Payton started the game at quarterback for Coastal, finishing 10-of-17 for 99 yards. Payton and fellow sophomore quarterback Bryce Carpenter alternated plays in the first half, though Carpenter took the majority of snaps in the second half and finished 9-of-14 for 118 yards with a pair of touchdown passes.
One of those passes went to Jaivon Heiligh, who led Coastal in receiving with 73 yards on six catches. Running back CJ Marable had the second touchdown catch and totaled 48 yards on three catches. The Chants struggled to get their ground game established as no Coastal player rushed for more than 31 yards and totaled just 105 yards on the ground for the game.
Coastal had three defensive players finish with double-digit tackles. Linebacker Teddy Gallagher had a game-high 14 stops, tying his career-high. Defensive tackle C.J. Brewer notched 13 tackles, also a career-high, including one tackle-for-loss, and had a pair of quarterback hurries. Defensive end Tarron Jackson racked up 10 tackles, another career-high, and included a nine-yard sack.
Georgia State had three players finish with over 100 rushing yards. It was the first time since Nov. 28, 2015, versus The Citadel, that Coastal allowed three 100-yard rushers.
GSU quarterback Dan Ellington led the way with 128 yards rushing on 19 attempts, and added 122 more yards through the air while completing 16-of-24 attempts with a touchdown. GSU running backs Tra Barnett and Seth Paige rushed for 110 and 104 yards, respectively, and combined for three scores. Barnett had a pair of touchdowns while Paige had one.
Linebacker Ed Curney led the Panther defense with 10 tackles, including five solo efforts. As a team, GSU recorded four tackles-for-losses and forced three fumbles, recovering two.
CCU punter Myles Prosser totaled 211 yards on five punts, including a career-long 54-yard punt in the second quarter, and placed three kicks inside the 20-yard line.
Both teams’ offense started slow out of the gates, but a turnover on the Chanticleers’ second offensive drive of the game gave the ball to the Panthers on their own 44-yard line.
Following the Payton fumble, the Panthers drove 23 yards on eight plays before a diving shoestring tackle by Gallagher on a breaking GSU ball carrier on third-and-six held the visitors in white to a 38-yard field goal with 6:25 left in the opening quarter.
The Coastal offense quickly answered with a scoring drive of its own on its next series, as Payton rushed for 37 yards on the first play of the drive to put Coastal on the Panthers’ half of the field.
After another first down put the Chants on the GSU 25-yard line, the Panthers defense stood strong and forced Coastal place-kicker Massimo Biscardi to make a 38-yard field goal attempt and tie the game up at 3-3 with 2:23 to go in the first quarter.
The defense came up big on the next GSU offensive possession, as a hurry up the middle by Brewer forced an errant Ellington pass that was intercepted by safety Alex Spillum to give the men in black the ball back on the Panthers’ side of the field. The interception was the seventh of the season for the Coastal defense.
Six plays later, highlighted by a 14-yard run up the middle from Carpenter, the Chants got the ball down to the Georgia State four-yard line. However, a third-down pass attempt failed to hold the home team to a 21-yard field goal and take a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter.
The Panthers would put together the first touchdown drive of the game on the ensuing possession, as a roughing the passer penalty on the Chants on a first-and-10 incomplete pass allowed the visitors to move up to midfield.
Two plays later, Paige took the ball off the left side of the line and tight-roped the sideline for a 46-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers on top at 10-6 with 10:46 to go before the halftime break.
Georgia State added to its lead after a Coastal three-and-out by putting together the longest drive of the opening half to that point, taking the ball 70 yards on 15 plays in 6:22 to take a 17-6 lead on an Ellington three-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Cornelius McCoy before the halftime intermission.
The Coastal offense took the second half kickoff and drove 75 yards on nine plays, including a 23-yard pass from Carpenter to Marable on a third-and-17 that set up a 20-yard touchdown strike from Carpenter to high school teammate Heiligh to put the Chants down just four at 17-13 less than five minutes into the third quarter of play.
The offenses continued to dominate the third quarter as Georgia State answered with a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive of its own to pull back out in front by 11 points at 24-13 on a 26-yard scamper to the end zone by Barnett on a third-and-one play for the Panthers.
Forced to punt following a three-and-out, the Chants almost got the ball back as a Prosser 47-yard punt was fumbled by the Panthers on the GSU 28-yard line, however, the Panthers were able to pounce on the loose ball first to keep possession on the miscue.
GSU avoided the turnover on the punt return and used a 57-yard rush from Ellington on a third-and-10 to flip the field and set up a two-yard plunge up the middle from Barnett to extend the visitor’s lead to a game-high 18 points at 31-13. The second Barnett score capped off a seven-play, 74-yard drive that took just under three minutes off the game clock.
Despite the double-digit deficit, the Chants refused to quit as they forced a three-and-out to start the fourth quarter then took advantage of an eight-yard punt to take over the ball on the GSU 23-yard line with 13:29 to go in the game.
CCU used a five-yard run from Jacqez Hairston, a six-yard pass and catch from Carpenter and Heiligh, and three-straight rushing attempts to drive down to the Panthers’ five-yard line.
On a fourth-and-three, Carpenter rolled out to this right and fired a pass to Marable who made a one-handed grab and sprinted into the end zone for the five-yard score to cap the 23-yard scoring drive.
The Chants added a two-point conversion on an end-around rushing attempt by Ky’Jon Tyler to close the gap to 10 at 31-21 with 10:34 to go in the final quarter of play.
However, following a defensive stop by the Chants D, a fumble on the punt return appeared to squander the home team’s comeback before a defensive three-and-out and a missed GSU field goal gave the ball back to the CCU offense with 5:21 to go in the contest.
Carpenter then drove the offense down the field to the Georgia State eight-yard line. The Chants who were 11-for-11 on fourth-down attempts on the season went for it on fourth-and-one. A bad connection on the snap exchange on the fourth-down play ended the Chants drive and essentially the game as the Panthers ran out the final 2:19 to secure the 10-point victory.
Coastal (3-3, 0-2 Sun Belt) will return to the road for a Sun Belt showdown at Georgia Southern (2-3, 1-1 Sun Belt) on Saturday, Oct. 19, at 3 p.m. ET in Statesboro, Ga.
Courtesy: CCU Athletics