MOBILE, Ala. – Coastal Carolina overcame a 10-point halftime deficit and scored on its very first play of the overtime period to defeat the South Alabama Jaguars 27-21 in overtime on Friday night in Mobile, Ala.
The Chanticleers totaled 491 yards of offense, including a season-high 315 rushing yards on the ground, while the defense held the Jaguars to just 349 yards of offense including holding the home team to -5 rushing yards for the game.
The -5 rushing yards allowed were the second-fewest in CCU history, as the Chants held Liberty to -23 rushing yards in the win in 2016.
With the win, the Chanticleers finished the regular season at 10-2 overall and 6-2 in Sun Belt play. The 10 wins mark the second consecutive double-digit win season for the Chants, marking just the second time in program history that the Chants have won 10 games or more in back-to-back years (2013 and 2014).
The Chants improved to 7-6 all-time in overtime games and 1-2 in overtime games since moving to the FBS level full time in 2017.
In the win, senior wideout Jaivon Heiligh became CCU’s all-time career leader in both receptions (84) and receiving yards (2,731) with his six catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. He also went over the 1,000-yards mark in the win, becoming only the second Chant in program history to have 1,000 receiving yards in a single season, joining Jerome Simpson in 2006.
Senior running back Shermari Jones ran for a career-high 211 yards and a score on the ground on 23 carries. His 211 rushing yards are the second-most in a single game in school history behind only Mike Tolbert’s 244 yards at VMI in 2007.
On the defensive side of the ball, freshman Josaiah Stewart shattered the CCU single-season sacks record, as he again registered 3.0 sacks to give him 13.0 on the season and surpassed Tarron Jackson’s record of 10.5 set back in 2019.
On top of all that, redshirt sophomore quarterback Grayson McCall was 16-for-25 for 176 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He also rushed 16 times for 59 yards and what proved to be the game-winning score in overtime.
Super senior Kameron Brown and senior Isaiah Likely each had three catches, tallying 34 and 21 yards, respectively, while Braydon Bennett rushed six times for 43 yards in the win.
For the Jaguars offensively, quarterback Jake Bentley was 28-for-41 with 354 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions, while two receivers in Jalen Tolbert (10 catches, 191 yards, TD) and Jalen Wayne (9 catches, 111 yards) each had over 100 yards for the game.
Defensively, Coastal tallied 4.0 sacks, 11.0 tackles-for-loss, and a season-high three interceptions in the win.
Leading the way was super seniors Teddy Gallagher and Silas Kelly with 10 and eight tackles each, while Stewart followed with five tackles, including 3.0 sacks, and 4.0 tackles-for-loss in the victory.
Both Enock Makonzo and C.J. Brewer finished with five total tackles as well.
USA’s Keith Gallmon and Jamal Brooks led the way with eight tackles apiece, as the Jaguars finished with 5.0 sacks and 6.0 tackles-for-loss in the defeat.
South Alabama got on the scoreboard first, as the Jaguars forced the Coastal offense to punt on the opening offensive series of the game before driving 88 yards on 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead to start the contest.
The USA scoring drive was kept alive on a fourth-and-6 attempt, as Bentley was able to scramble to the left side and out of bounds for eight yards to keep the drive alive and move the ball across midfield.
Following a pass interference call that put the Jaguars on the 13-yard line, Bentley connected with Lincoln Sefcik underneath the Coastal defense for an eight-yard catch and score with 6:42 left in the first quarter of play.
Coastal appeared to get the score back on the ensuing kickoff, as Aaron Bedgood ran the short kickoff back 85 yards for the touchdown only to have the play called back due to an illegal block out of bounds penalty.
Taking over on its own 23-yard line, the Coastal offense went 10 plays and drove down to the USA 29-yard line, however, the Chants were stopped on a fourth-and-1 play to turn the ball over on downs to the Jaguars.
This time the Chants’ defense would come up with a big stop. USA would convert three first downs and drive down to the Coastal 21-yard line before the “Black Swarm” defense forced two incomplete passes and had one tackle-for-loss on a rush to force the Jaguars to settle for a 30-yard field goal which put the home team on top 10-0 early in the second quarter.
The rest of the first half would see the two teams trade punts back-and-forth, CCU punting twice and the Jaguars once, until a CCU sack by Stewart on a first-and-10 for USA ended the first half with the Jaguars in front 10-0 at the halftime break.
The Jaguars looked to add to their lead on the opening drive of the second half, picking up two first downs before a leaping one-handed interception by Kelly at the five-yard line ended the drive and sparked excitement throughout the CCU sideline.
The Chants’ offense took advantage of the highlight play, as CCU went to the ground game rushing 11 times on the 19-play drive, going 95 yards down the field with a 10-yard touchdown pass from McCall to Heiligh capping the scoring drive at 9:27 and putting the visitors down three at 10-7 with just over two minutes left in the quarter.
The two teams traded turnovers, as Alex Spillum picked off a Bentley pass before Bennett fumbled the quarterback and running back exchange, to give the ball back to the Jaguars who then saw another Bentley passed intercepted by Spillum, his second in the game, to give Coastal the ball back with seconds remaining in the third quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Jones took the ball and raced for 75 yards down the USA sideline to pay dirt to put the Chanticleers on top for the first time all game at 14-10 with just 11 seconds into the final quarter.
After the defense held the Jaguars to a 33-yard field goal on their next offensive series to put the score at 14-13, the Chants drove down the field and looked to add to its lead before Davyn Fienord picked off a McCall pass and gave the ball back to the home team with 8:27 in the contest.
The Coastal defense held strong and recorded a stop on a fourth-and-3 to force a turnover on downs. However, the offense again coughed up the ball, this time by way of a fumble to keep the Jaguars’ hopes alive.
With 4:48 to go in the contest, USA struck again, this time by way of a 57-yard Bentley to Tolbert touchdown pass overtop of the Coastal defense to give the home team a 21-14 lead with just over four minutes left in regulation.
The 4:24 was more than enough time for the Coastal “Teal Team 6” offense, as McCall led the Chants down the field, using a 22-yard pass to start the drive and then four straight runs by Jones to cross midfield.
Back-to-back completions from McCall to Heiligh and a pass interference call put the Chants down to the USA 15-yard line.
Another pass to Heiligh and a second pass interference penalty on the South Alabama defense set up a two-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Bryce Carpenter which tied the game up at 21-21 with 39 seconds remaining on the game clock.
South Alabama won the toss and elected to play defense to start the overtime period.
Coastal obliged, as McCall ran into the end zone from 25 yards out on the very first play from scrimmage in the extra period to go up 27-21.
However, the Chants left the door open, as CCU missed the extra-point attempt off the right upright.
On South Alabama’s possession, the Chants were all over the super senior quarterback, as Bentley threw back-to-back incomplete passes on second and third downs, and was sacked by Kelly for a loss on a fourth-down attempt to give the Chanticleers the 27-21 conference road win.
The Chanticleers will now wait and see what postseason bowl selection they will receive, which will be announced on Dec. 5.
- CCU improved to 7-6 all-time in overtime games with the OT win.
- The Chanticleers finished the regular season with 10 wins, marking just the second time in program history that CCU has posted back-to-back double-digit win seasons (2013 and 2014).
- The win was the program’s first-ever victory on the road at South Alabama.
- Coastal was held scoreless for back-to-back quarters for the first time this season after not scoring in the first half on Friday.
- The Chants’ 315 rushing yards on the night were the most this season, eclipsing the previous season-best mark of 312 versus UMass (Sept. 25).
- The -5 rushing yards allowed by the Coastal defense is the fewest allowed this season and the second-fewest allowed in program history (-23 vs. Liberty – 2016).
- CCU’s 19-play scoring drive in the third quarter was the longest in terms of plays in program history (previous record – 18 vs. Arkansas State – 2020).
- The Coastal third-quarter scoring drive that lasted 9:27 marked the second-longest scoring drive in terms of time in CCU history (record – 9:48 at Troy – 2020).
- On the last play of the first half, Josaiah Stewart broke the single-season record for sacks with 11.0 on the year. He finished with 3.0 sacks to increase his mark to 13.0 this season.
- With Jaivon Heiligh’s 10-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, he reached 1,000 receiving yards on the season, becoming just the second Chanticleer to do that in program history (Jerome Simpson – 2006).
- Jaivon Heiligh’s 87 receiving yards makes him the all-time leading receiver in Coastal Carolina program history with 2,731.
- With his six pass receptions in the game, Jaivon Heiligh became the CCU career leader in pass receptions with 184.
- Shermari Jones’ 75-yard touchdown scamper was a career-long run for the senior.
- Shermari Jones’ 211 rushing yards was a career-high and marked his third fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season.
- Shermari Jones’ 211 rushing yards are the most for a Chant in a single game since Mike Tolbert ran for 244 yards at VMI in 2007.
- The 75-yard touchdown run by Shemari Jones to start the fourth quarter marked the 11th 50-plus yard touchdown play for the Chants’ offense in the last seven games.