Bucs to Face Coastal Carolina in Season-FinaleNovember 16, 2012
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Buccaneers (5-5, 3-2) look to finish the season with a record above 500 for the first time since 2009 as they take on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (6-4,4-1) in the regular season finale at Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina with kickoff scheduled for 3:30 on Saturday afternoon.
Last Saturday, Charleston Southern put together its most impressive fourth-quarter-performance of the season. The offense put up a season-high 21 points and gained 212 yards solely in the fourth quarter while the defense came up with two interceptions in the final period to lead the Bucs to a 28-10 victory over Gardner-Webb.
The Chanticleers are riding a four-game winning streak including last week’s convincing, 65-7 win over Presbyterian. Coastal Carolina led 44-7 at the half and scored the final 33 points in the game while racking up over 600 yards of total offense. The Chanticleers will have plenty to play for on Saturday with a share of the Big South Championship and a playoff spot hanging in the balance.
The Bucs and Chanticleers have matched up nine times with Coastal Carolina leading the all-time series, 6-3. Last year’s meeting was a high-scoring, offensively driven game with both teams gaining over 430 yards of total offense. Corvaughn Archie had a career day at wide receiver for CSU, catching 11 passes for 204 yards. Teddy Allen added in 15 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown.
CSU head coach Jay Mills commented on the matchup with Coastal earlier in the week, “We have tremendous respect for the Coastal program and what they’ve been able to put together… And at the same time I feel good about our team and the way we’ve been progressing. I know we’re going to show up and play our best ball of the season.”
The Bucs’ offense was slow to start last Saturday against Gardner-Webb. After heading into the locker room with the game tied at seven and CSU trailing 10-7 after three quarters, the offense started to gain some steam in the fourth quarter. Malcom Dixon got the scoring started in the final period with a season-long 69-yard touchdown run in the opening minute to give the Bucs their first lead since the first quarter.
Mills spoke on his offense, “It has slowly come together. And that’s a great credit to the coaching staff and to the seniors. I’m really proud of this group and they way they have persevered. They’ve gone from pressing and being frustrated to now being very confident.”
Dixon finished the game with two touchdowns while Teddy Allen added a 31-yard touchdown run for his eighth rushing touchdown of the season. Allen is now one rushing touchdown away from tying a CSU single-season record while Dixon is two touchdowns away from tying the record with nine rushing touchdowns.
Coastal Carolina is riding a four-game winning streak and coming off their best offensive game of the season. Against Presbyterian, the Chanticleers rushed for a season-high 365 yards while gaining a season-high 625 yards of total offense. Running back, Marcus Whitener, who was playing in his third game of the season due to injury, picked up a season-high 143 yards on the ground with two touchdowns. The Senior-back had a combined 124 yards in his previous three games.
On the year, Coastal is ranked second in the Big South in points per game (34.6), second in yards per game (441.5) and first in passing yards per game (246.7). Their high-powered offense is quarterbacked by a senior-signal-caller, Aramis Hillary. A two year starter, Hillary is on the leader board in several different categories in the Big South. He is the conference leader in total offense (266.7 yards per game) and is second in the conference with 17 passing touchdowns. Overall, Hillary has thrown for over 2,000 yards while completing over 65% of his passes and only throwing five interceptions.
Although the passing game was a focal point early in the season for the Chanticleers, the running game has come alive, especially during the four-game win streak. During the four-game stretch, Coastal has averaged 294 yards per game on the ground, one hundred yards more than their season-average. Expect the Chanticleers to come out with a balanced attack offensively on Saturday.
The Bucs put together their most impressive defensive performance of the season last Saturday against Gardner-Webb. The Bulldogs were near the top of the conference in passing, but the CSU defense held the Gardner-Webb pass-attack to 12 completions on 36 attempts with only 115 yards and two fourth-quarter interceptions. The running game was not effective either, gaining only 92 yards. “I feel very good about where our defense is at right now. We had a team that came in the past week that picked up over 550 yards of total offense the week before and our defense was able to hold them to 207 yards,” Mills commented.
Seniors Charles James and Austin Wald each came up with important interceptions in the final quarter on Saturday. Wald’s interception was a one-handed, spectacular catch while James earned a spot by himself in the record books with his pick. James now has 12 career-interceptions, which is a new Charleston Southern record formerly held by ########. James and Wald have been huge factors in CSU emerging as one of the top pass-defenses in the country. On the season, CSU has allowed an average of 149.9 yards passing per game, which is the fourth fewest passing yards allowed by any FCS team in the nation.
The Chanticleer’s defense is fourth in the Big South in points allowed per game (27.2) and fifth in yards allowed per game (405.6). Their run-defense has been solid the entire season. Minus games against Appalachian State and Stony Brook where the Chanticleers gave up almost 700 yards rushing, Coastal is allowing less than 140 yards per game on the ground. Coastal has been extremely skilled at slowing opponents’ run-games and forcing teams to go to the air. The secondary for Coastal has intercepted eleven passes this season which is most in the league. Dontavais Johnson, a senior-cornerback, leads the Big South with four interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks have not had much time to throw either with Coastal collecting 19 sacks on the season, second-most in the Big South.
Individually, the Chanticleers are led by two linebackers in sophomore Quinn Backus and junior Mike McClure. Backus is second in the Big South averaging over ten tackles per game while McClure is sixth in the conference in tackles per game. Jamel Davis has four sacks from his defensive end spot, which is third in the league.
Both the Bucs and Chanticleers have legitimate threats in the return game. For CSU, James has returned to his successful ways returning punts since he recovered from a hand injury. James is second in the conference by gaining 11.2 yards per punt return. He is second only to Coastal’s return-man, Niccolo Mastromatteo who is averaging 12.1 yards per return and is one of only two players in the league who have returned a punt for a touchdown.
Mills is confident that Saturday will be the continuation of his team’s progression, “Their [CSU] best football is in front of them, both this Saturday and in future years as well too.”