CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern continues the 2017 season this weekend as the Buccaneers host Savannah State University at Buccaneer Field on Saturday, October 21, with kickoff set for 6 p.m. on the Big South Network. In preparation for the game, here are three things to watch for in Saturday's contest.
Winning Streak vs. Losing Streak
Both teams have game streaks coming to bear this weekend as Charleston Southern hosts Savannah State on Saturday evening at Buccaneer Field. The Bucs will look to continue their 15 game home non-conference winning streak against the Tigers, while Savannah State will look to snap a 39-game road losing streak dating back to 2011 when SSU last recorded a win away from Ted Wright Stadium.
The Bucs' winning streak dates back early in 2012 when CSU suffered a 31-10 loss in their home opener against Jacksonville University. CSU struggled in the contest with four turnovers as well as giving up a pair of special teams' touchdowns in the loss to the Dolphins. Since the loss, CSU has won 21 of 24 home games, including 15 consecutive non-conference games in the winning streak. The Bucs have topped FCS opponents seven times during the stretch with wins over The Citadel (twice), Charlotte, Campbell, East Tennessee State, Bucknell, and Mississippi Valley State.
CSU has already added to its winning streak this season with September wins over Point (66-0) and Mississippi Valley State (58-7). The Bucs' matchup against the Tigers is CSU's final non-conference contest of the 2017 season.
The Buccaneers have been impressive at home in the 2017 season to date with CSU posting 66-0 and 58-7 wins over Point and Mississippi Valley State. The 124-7 scoring margin has come through all facets of the game as the Bucs have the 43-19 advantage in first downs and the 679-37 advantage in rushing yards. The Bucs have averaged 9.4 yards per offensive play in their home games.
Defensively, CSU has dominated the line of scrimmage with 15 sacks and 25 tackles for loss over their first two home games. The Bucs have averaged a defensive touchdown per home game this season with J.D. Sosebee returning a fumble in CSU's win over Point, while Sekwan Jenkins' pick-six came in the Bucs' win over MVSU. CSU also held MVSU to -24 yards rushing in their last home game; the total was the second-lowest rushing attempt by an opponent in CSU history.
Savannah State has struggled on the road since the 2011 season with the Tigers posting 39 consecutive losses away from their home field. SSU's last road win came back on September 24, 2011, when the Tigers topped N.C. Central 33-30 for their lone win in the season. Savannah State has only won two games on the road since the 2009 season with their other victory coming in the season opener at Livingstone College on September 5.
SSU is 0-4 on the road this season with losses at Appalachian State (54-7), Montana (56-3), Bethune-Cookman (24-12), and this past weekend at Morgan State (48-28). The Tigers' best shot at a road win came at B-C, but a late touchdown by Akevious Williams gave the Wildcats the win.
The Tigers will also look to end their 12-game losing streak against Big South Conference teams this weekend. SSU is 0-6 against CSU, 0-5 against Gardner-Webb, and lost their only game against Liberty.
Anthony Ellis, The Blue Swarm, and Getting to the Quarterback
Charleston Southern's defense is looking forward to its matchup against the Savannah State offensive line on Saturday evening. The Bucs enter the game 10th in the FCS with 21 sacks over six games, while Savannah State is 122nd overall in allowing 32 sacks on the season. Only Mississippi Valley State, another 2017 CSU opponent, has allowed more sacks (35) this season.
CSU leads the conference with 3.50 sacks per game paced by the efforts of their senior defensive end Anthony Ellis. Ellis, the 2016 and 2017 Big South Defensive Preseason Player of the Year, became just the third player in conference history to achieve 20 career sacks and 40 career tackles for loss this past weekend against Presbyterian. The Apopka, Fla. native is currently second all-time with 21.0 career sacks and fourth all-time in the conference annals with 42.5 tackles for loss.
Ellis headlines a defensive effort that has posted 15 sacks in two home games in the 2017 season, including six in the home opener against Point, and a CSU record nine in the win over Mississippi Valley State. Ellis leads the Bucs and is second in the conference with 5.5 sacks on the year. He is 1.5 sacks away from becoming the first player in league history with three 7.0 sack seasons in his career.
Overall, 13 different CSU players have brought down the quarterback in the 2017 season. Johnny Robinson (3.0) and Joey Maxberry (2.0) both have multiple sacks on the season, while Anton Williams and Ty'Reik Faulks have posted 1.5 sacks apiece in their freshman seasons. J.D. Sosebee, Bobby Ruff, Zane Cruz, Landon Sayegh, Nick Sands, Ramel Hambrick-Crawford, Jacob Garibay, and Noah Oliver have all brought down the quarterback on the season.
Savannah State has struggled to keep the quarterback upright this season with the Tigers allowing at least three sacks in all six games on the year. The Tigers allowed a trio of sacks against both Appalachian State and Florida A&M and a season-high eight sacks on the road at Montana. More recently, SSU has struggled offensively with the Tigers allowing the quarterback to be sacked 18 times over the last three contests.
Kyle Reighard, the Big South Leader
The reigning Big South Special Teams Player of the Week, Kyle Reighard has been one of several standouts among the Charleston Southern specialists in the 2017 season. The Salem, Va. native leads the Big South with 41.5 yards per attempt on the season with 12 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Reighard has not seen a lot of action in 2017 at Buccaneer Field with only four punts on the season. Reighard is averaging 45.0 yards per attempt against Point and Mississippi Valley State with two dropped inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
Busy in the field position battle for the Bucs on Saturday, Reighard punted the ball six times for an average of 44.0 yards per attempt. The redshirt sophomore pinned two inside the 20-yard line and eclipsed the 50-yard mark for the fifth time this year with a 52-yard punt late in the third quarter to switch the field against the Blue Hose.
Reighard was featured by The Post & Courier's David Shelton this weekend with the full story to be found HERE.