No. 16 Coastal Carolina holds off Buffalo, 28-25


(Photo Courtesy: Coastal Carolina Athletics)

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The No. 16/18 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers remained unbeaten to start the 2021 season with a 28-25 road win at Buffalo (1-2) on Saturday afternoon at UB Stadium in Buffalo, N.Y.

The win pushes CCU to a 3-0 start for the second-straight year and for the fourth time in program history.

The victory is the first in program history over a Mid-American Conference (MAC) opponent (1-3) and the first-ever win over a school from the state of New York (1-6).

Coastal eclipsed the 400 total offensive yards mark for the third time this season with 444 yards of total offense on 212 yards rushing and 232 yards passing on the day.

The Bulls finished the game with 408 yards of total offense on 262 yards rushing and 146 yards through the air.

Redshirt sophomore Grayson McCall was 13-of-19 through the air for 232 yards, three touchdowns, and just his first interception of the season, as he connected with six different receivers led by senior wideout Jaivon Heiligh with four catches for 91 yards and a touchdown and super senior Kameron Brown with three receptions for 79 yards and a season-long pass and catch of 50 yards.

On the ground, Shermari Jones rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this season, as the senior running back ran a career-high 16 times for a career-high 149 yards and one touchdown.

For the Bulls offensively, quarterback Kyle Vantrease was 13-of-20 for 146 yards through the air, as he too connected with six different receivers for the game led by wideout Dominic Johnson’s game-high six receptions for 66 yards.

Running back Dylan McDuffie finished the day with 15 carries for 92 yards and a score, as he was one of three Bulls to find the endzone on the ground in the loss.

Captains Silas Kelly and Teddy Gallagher led the defensive charge with 10 tackles each, as Kelly also added 1.0 tackle-for-loss and one pass breakup. Fellow senior Enock Makonzo added nine stops and forced a fumble while super senior defensive tackle C.J. Brewer had a team-high 2.0 tackles-for-loss in the win.

Buffalo’s defense was led by linebacker James Patterson with a game-high 11 stops, while fellow Bull defender Taylor Riggins had seven solo stops including 2.0 sacks and 3.0 tackles-for-loss.

Coastal got on the scoreboard first to start the contest, as the Chanticleers drove 55 yards on just seven plays and saw their opening offensive series capped off by a 16-yard pitch pass from McCall to redshirt sophomore Aaron Bedgood who raced around the right end to find pay dirt.

Freshman placekicker Liam Gray knocked through the PAT, the first of his career, to push the Chants out in front at 7-0 with 10:26 to play in the first quarter.

However, it would be the Bulls who would control the rest of the first quarter, scoring on back-to-back series to take a 14-7 lead into the second quarter.

UB answered the Chants’ opening-drive score with a 12-play, 86-yard drive, which was highlighted by three double-digit plays and ended with a four-yard run up the middle by McDuffie to tie the game up at 7-7 with 5:31 to go in the opening frame.

Following a CCU punt, the “Black Swarm” defense looked to have picked up its first turnover of the year on a first-and-10 play as Makonzo ripped the ball loose from the Buffalo running back. However, the loose ball was picked up by UB’s Kevin Marks who ran 61-yards down the Buffalo sideline to put the Bulls on the Coastal Carolina 21-yard line.

Three plays later, backup quarterback Matt Myers broke through the middle of the CCU defense to score from 13-yards out and put the home team on top at 14-7 with 00:38 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Coastal went to the air to start the second quarter, as the Chants’ McCall connected with Heiligh on a third-and-8 from the CCU 46-yard line to put the offense inside the Buffalo red zone.

Following a Reese White two-yard rush up the middle, McCall and Heiligh hooked up again down the UB sideline, this time for 17-yards and a score to tie the game back up at 14-14 with 13:45 to play in the first half.

The drive was just five plays for 56 yards and only took 1:43 off the game clock.

After the Coastal defense forced a 51-yard field goal attempt by the Bulls that went wide right, the offense took over on their own 33-yard line looking to put the men in Teal back on top.

The Chants converted on a fourth-and-1 on their own 42-yard line and a third-and-5 on the Buffalo 49-yard line on the ensuing drive, but was unable to convert on a third-and-4 on the Buffalo four-yard line and was forced to try a field goal.

The 22-yard field goal hit off the upright and bounded back towards the field to keep the game tied at 14-14 with 3:07 remaining in the first half.

Out of the halftime break, the Chants wasted no time in jumping back out in front, as the offense quickly went 75 yards on just five plays and only 2:40. The drive was started by a 50-yard run up the middle by Jones and ended with a six-yard pass to tight end Isaiah Likely in the back of the endzone to put the visitors on top at 21-14 with 12:20 to go in the third quarter.

The Bulls looked to retie the game once more on their ensuing offensive possession, as the home team used a 15-yard rush by McDuffie and an 11-yard pass and catch from Vantrease to Johnson to give them a first down on the CCU 25-yard line.

However, the defense picked up a tackle-for-loss by Kelly on first down and held the Bulls short on a third-and-5 to force a field goal attempt.

Buffalo’s Alex McNulty made good on the 36-yard field goal to cut the Coastal lead to four at 21-17 with 6:08 to go until the fourth quarter.

The teams traded punts over the next two possessions with safety Alex Spillum returning the UB punt 50-yards to put the offense on the Buffalo 25-yard line.

The CCU offense then used the ground game, running the ball on seven consecutive plays before Jones dove into the endzone from one yard out to start the fourth quarter and give the Chants their largest lead of the game at 28-17 just three seconds into the final quarter of play.

Coastal would take advantage of a high snap and tackles from veterans Makonzo, Brayden Matts, and Kelly on four of the Bulls’ six plays to force another UB punt with 11:42 to go in the contest.

Coastal would drive down the field, going 66 yards on just three plays before an interception by Buffalo’s Logic Hudgens in the endzone halted the Chants’ attempt to all but put the game away midway through the fourth quarter.

The Bulls would not go away, as the home team would use 16 plays to drive 92 yards in 7:12 to score on a seven-yard run off the left side by Marks to cut the Coastal lead to five at 28-23.

Down five, UB would go for two and would make good on the two-point conversion on a Vantrease pass to Quian Williams to close the gap to just one score at 28-25 with 2:41 left in the contest.

However, Coastal would be able to run out the clock over the final minutes of the contest to leave with the three-point win.

The Chanticleers (3-0) will return home to host UMass (0-2) at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 25. It will be a “Teal Out” and “Throwback Day” at Brooks Stadium.


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