DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Running back Isidore Jackson eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the season and added a touchdown, but it was not enough as Coastal Carolina defeated No. 22 Bethune-Cookman by a count of 24-14 in the opening round of the FCS Playoffs at Municipal Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Coastal Carolina (8-4) used a balanced attack and solid defensive effort to limit the vaunted Wildcats offense during key moments of the game. One such occasion included a tide-turning play early in the fourth quarter.
Bethune-Cookman (9-3) trailed 17-0 early in the fourth quarter, but had a fourth-and-five play looming at the CCU six yard line. A controversial false start penalty, followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty charged to the Wildcats, moved the ball back to the B-CU 26. On the ensuing play, backup quarterback Brodrick Waters eluded the Chanticleers defense to find KJ Stroud in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, but the call was later reversed on an official review.
B-CU would later force the CCU offense to punt, but after driving the field once again, Coastal Carolina defensive back Johnnie Houston stepped in front of a Waters pass on the sidelines and took it back 68 yards for the Chanticleers score. That put the visitors from South Carolina up 24-0 with 10:26 remaining in the fourth.
The Wildcats offense would come alive midway through the quarter when David Blackwell slipped past the CCU defense and caught a pass from Quentin Williams for the 74-yard touchdown strike. The two-point conversion was good, bringing the Cats to within 24-8.
B-CU scored again on its next possession, using an Eddie Poole catch for 41 yards to setup an Isidore Jackson touchdown run from 10 yards out to bring the game to the final of 24-14.
The Cats had plenty of early threats against the Chanticleers, missing three passes from Williams to Eddie Poole and David Blackwell in the opening quarter.
“I think it was a good adjustment that we made to try and slow them down, but you’re not going to stop a team like this,” stated B-CU third-year head coach Brian Jenkins, named MEAC Coach of the Year on Saturday morning. “They have some good receivers, a good quarterback and a good running back. They are going to score points, and I think we did well holding them to 24 points.”
CCU struck the scoreboard first when Marcus Whitener raced in from 14 yards out, capping a six-play, 75-yard drive that took just over two minutes off the clock. The Alex Catron extra point gave the Chanticleers a 7-0 lead with 13:59 left in the second quarter.
On its next possession, CCU went 58 yards on nine plays in a drive that took 3:56 off the clock to step out in front 14-0 following Matt Hazel’s three-yard reception in the corner of the end zone from quarterback Aramis Hillary. The defense for the Wildcats appeared to be in good position as D.J. Howard and Nick Addison had a beat on the ball, but a mistimed jump allowed Hazel to bring in the pass for the score.
The lead later stretched to 17-0 in favor of Coastal Carolina as Catron connected on a 35-yard field goal with 3:05 left in the opening half.
The Wildcats outgained the Chanticleers in total offense, 420-382. In addition, they registered 214 yards through the air and 206 yards on the ground.
“I’m proud of my guys and the season that we had,” said Jenkins. “Offensively, we just didn’t put enough points on the board. That’s the bottom line.”
Coastal Carolina was led on offense with a combination of Jeremy Height on the ground with a team-high 78 yards, followed by Whitener with 72 yards and a score, and quarterback Hillary (38). Hillary added 180 yards and a score through the air on 19-of-24 passing and one interception. DeMario Bennett had 44 yards on four catches, as well as Tyrell Blanks with four catches and 43 yards.
The Chanticleers defense was anchored by Tyler McCarthy with 10 tackles (six solo) and Quinn Backus with eight (six solo). Hawthorne added 1.5 tackles-for-loss, while Houston chipped in with the interception for touchdown and two forced fumbles.
Bethune-Cookman was led by the play of the quarterbacks of Waters with 95 yards rushing on four attempts, as well as 215 yards passing from Williams. Williams finished 8-for-18 through the air, adding a touchdown and interception. Jackson finished with 77 yards rushing, and Poole recorded 116 yards on four catches. David Blackwell had 74 yards and a TD on his one reception.
Jarkevis Fields anchored the Bethune-Cookman defense with a game-high 15 tackles, followed by Nick Addison with 10 tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception. Lane added eight tackles and a sack, while teammates Harold Love III and Tavarus Dantzler each added eight tackles as well.
Coastal Carolina moves on to play Old Dominion next weekend in the second round of the FCS playoffs in Norfolk, Virginia.
– Courtesy: BCU Sports Information