Coastal Carolina beats Northern Illinois in Cure Bowl

Sports

ORLANDO, Fla. — Coastal Carolina prevailed, 47-41, over MAC champion Northern Illinois in a shootout in the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl to secure its first-ever bowl victory since joining the FBS ranks in 2017. 

The Chanticleers scored on each of their first six possessions, before Northern Illinois forced the first punt of the game with 54 seconds remaining in the third quarter. 

With the exception of a kneel-down to end the first half, Northern Illinois put up points on its first seven drives. That streak ended when super senior linebackers Teddy Gallagher and Silas Kelly combined to upend Huskies freshman wide receiver Trayvon Rudolph on a 4th-and-1 rushing attempt.  

On the first play of the ensuing drive, redshirt sophomore quarterback Grayson McCall pitched the ball to redshirt freshman running back Braydon Bennett who scampered 34 yards for the go-ahead Chanticleer touchdown with 6:40 to play. 

The Coastal Carolina defense came up with back-to-back stops to close out the contest and preserve the 47-41 margin. 

Two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year McCall completed 22-of-30 passes for 315 yards and four touchdowns on the night to complete the highest passing efficiency season of all-time for an FBS quarterback at 207.7—surpassing Alabama quarterback Mac Jones’ 2020 record of 203.1. Senior tight end Isaiah Likely caught seven passes for 96 yards and a pair of scores, while senior wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh became Coastal Carolina’s single-season record holder for receiving yards with a seven-reception, 94-yard effort. 

Senior running back Shermari Jones tallied 52 yards on the ground to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark on the season, while Bennett accumulated 155 yards of total offense (107 rushing, 47 receiving) and three touchdowns. 

Defensively, Kelly led the way with 14 tackles and a key forced fumble, becoming the first Chanticleer with a 100-tackle season since 2017 in the process. Fellow super senior linebacker Gallagher posted 12 tackles to become the fourth Chanticleer to clear the 300 career tackles plateau. 

With the victory, Coastal Carolina concludes the year 11-2. 

Courtesy – Sun Belt Conference

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