Bucs win 2005 Big South Title, carry momentum forward for 9-0 start in 2006
Charleston Southern showed signs of turning the corner as a program with a 5-5 season in 2004. But no one could have predicted the success the Bucs and third-year head coach Jay Mills would enjoy in 2005. Following a 2-4 start to the season, CSU rallied to win its final five games and capture a share of the Big South Conference Championship.
The Bucs capped off the first winning season in program history with a pair of dramatic home wins over the Big South’s favorites.
First, CSU rallied from down 12 points in the fourth quarter to topple Liberty, 31-30. Quarterback Collin Drafts and wide receiver Maurice Price led the way, with Price reeling in a 10-yard touchdown pass for the winning score on fourth and goal with 1:10 remaining. The play capped a 13-play, 55 yard-drive and was Price’s 13th catch of the afternoon, matching a Charleston Southern single-game program record.
The drama against Liberty paled in comparison to the wild finish the following week against Coastal Carolina. Trailing by 14 points with just 2:49 left in regulation, the Bucs again rallied to force overtime and defeated the Chanticleers in the extra session, 34-27, to win a share of the Big South title and set off a jubilant on-field celebration.
The fashion in which CSU forced overtime was nothing short of miraculous. Ahead 24-17 with just 10 seconds remaining, Coastal faced a fourth-and-21 from its own 38-yard line and needed only to run out the clock. Chanticleer’s receiver Jerome Simpson appeared to be headed for an intentional safety but stepped out of bounds at the four with 1.5 seconds remaining. The Bucs took full advantage on the final play of regulation, as Drafts found Markus Murry for a four-yard touchdown and Nick Ellis hit the extra point to force overtime.
In overtime, CSU pushed ahead in the second session on Andre Copeland’s two-yard plunge into the end zone. The Bucs defense then held firm from there, forcing a four-and-out to clinch the improbable victory.
The Big South title was particularly meaningful to a Charleston Southern squad that had dedicated the season to deceased teammate Eddie Gadson. Gadson, a walk-on wide receiver who earned a scholarship thanks to his 69 catches and nine touchdowns during the 2004 season, died in a car accident in June of 2005. CSU has since honored his name with the Eddie Gadson Memorial Scholarship, given every year at the spring game to a deserving walk-on player.
The momentum of CSU’s 2005 Big South Championship carried over into 2006, as the Bucs started 9-0 to build a 14-game winning streak that was the longest in FCS Football at the time. Included in that 9-0 start was a 38-35 win over The Citadel, marking CSU’s first ever win over its local rival.