Earlier this week, Coastal Carolina running back Lorenzo Taliaferro was added to the watch list for the prestigious Walter Payton Award, which recognizes the most outstanding offensive player at the FCS level.
And in response Saturday night, he continued what he’s been doing all season – reinforcing with each big run and punishing carry that he deserves to be mentioned in that conversation.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior needed only 15 carries to rush for 126 yards and a touchdown in Coastal’s 66-27 win over VMI – getting all but 12 of those yards before halftime – while adding another program record to his growing collection.
Now up to 1,112 rushing yards through eight games, he broke Coastal’s previous single-season record of 1,107 yards that Patrick Hall set way back in 2004. It’s not the first and it likely won’t be the last mark he sets this fall.
“The only goal I ever have is to be the best player I can be,” Taliaferro said afterward.
Taliaferro had already set Coastal’s single-season record for rushing touchdowns – now up to 18 – and he’s just three back of tying the Big South record of 21, set by Stony Brook’s Miguel Maysonet last season.
“Recognize too besides what he’s done in terms of running the ball, watch him block. Watch him carry out fakes,” Chants head coach Joe Moglia said. “You never see Lorenzo ever take a snap off no matter how many things have gone on. So he’s been incredibly consistent. ... He’s always going to fight for that extra yard, and he’s always going to give you everything he has.”
In talking about his latest achievement, Taliaferro made a point to share the credit.
“The offensive line is outstanding,” he said. “Every award I get, I wish it was Lorenzo Taliaferro and the offensive line because they just do a tremendous job week by week.”
Brown proves his worth
Coastal’s special teams play has mostly been outstanding this season. Junior kicker Alex Catron is 6 of 7 on field goals after converting a 43-yarder Saturday, and the kick coverage and block units have produced game-changing plays all fall.
The weak link has been the Chants’ production on kickoff returns, but redshirt-freshman Devin Brown might just be changing that.
Brown, who took over as the team’s primary kick returner last week for injured sophomore Tyrell Blanks, delivered a 95-yard kickoff return for touchdown in the third quarter Saturday, marking the longest scoring play in program history.
“As soon as I caught the ball, I just saw a big hole and I took it,” Brown said. “And as soon as I went through, I just saw nothing but grass.”
Blanks returned to action Saturday, but Moglia had said he wouldn’t be rushed back into kick return duties. Now, it seems like Brown might have locked the position up, though Moglia wouldn’t exactly confirm that.
“That’s going to be up to [assistant coach] Renato Diaz, who is the unit coordinator for that,” Moglia said. “But I’m not quite sure how he’s going to explain why he would be taken out of the lineup.”
True freshman safety Alex Scearce did not play Saturday due to an unspecified leg injury, but Moglia said the injury is not serious.
Junior Pernell Williams started in his place at the strong safety spot.
“He had banged up his leg earlier in the week, but he was all set, he was able to play,” Moglia said. “But Pernell Williams started all of last year, so he was certainly ready to go. He’s been doing very well over the span of the last few weeks. ... If [Alex] needed to play, he would have been able to play. But we didn’t need him to play. We thought it was more advantageous to be a little more cautionary.”
Coastal broke a Big South single-season record in the win with its fifth 50-point game of the season. It was also the Chants’ sixth-straight conference game scoring more than 40 points, which is the second-longest such streak in Big South history. ... Coastal is now 14-1 in its last 15 games with 13 consecutive regular-season victories. The conference record for consecutive regular-season wins is 14, set by Charleston Southern from 2005-06. ... Sophomore Richie Sampson’s interception was the first of his career, while senior Johnnie Houston grabbed his sixth career pick, which ties for seventh in program history. ... Junior linebacker Quinn Backus led the team with 12 tackles and two tackles for loss.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318 or follow him on Twitter @RyanYoungTSN.