De’Angelo Henderson extended his NCAA Division I record for touchdowns in consecutive games to 29, but he did so in his least productive game since becoming a starter in 2014.
Henderson had just 48 yards on 20 carries.
He wasn’t alone, as the Chanticleers were held to their lowest rushing total since Sept. 10, 2011 against Catawba. CCU was held to a paltry 42 yards on 35 carries by Jacksonville State in its 27-26 loss.
“I thought our front seven played tremendous,” JSU head coach John Grass said. “To be honest with you, I don’t think they could have played much better. To hold a team of that caliber to 42 yards rushing and basically make them one-dimensional – and that’s what we try to make folks do – we did a great job today.”
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The Gamecocks also ended Coastal’s streak of 28 consecutive games with 100 yards rushing dating back to a playoff loss to five-time defending national champion North Dakota State in December 2013.
Henderson’s previous low for yards over the past three-plus seasons both came in 2014: 52 yards on nine carries against Liberty and 54 on 11 carries against Charlotte.
Henderson extended his school record for career rushing touchdowns to 48. The Big South Conference career leader in receptions and receiving yards by a running back now has 84 receptions for 803 yards with four catches for 68 yards Saturday.
“The whole week [people] were talking about their running back, saying he was one of the best running backs in the nation,” JSU senior defensive end Darius Jackson said. “He was better than the LSU running backs, better than any running back we would face.”
The Gamecocks game-planned to stop Henderson, and his task became even tougher when starting quarterback Josh Stilley left the game with an injured left knee early in the second quarter and JSU became even more dedicated to stacking the box.
“He runs hard,” JSU defensive end E.J. Moss said. “But we knew if we stopped him in the backfield we’d be good.”
Coastal Carolina’s special teams were in fact special Saturday, and they nearly helped the Chants steal a win.
CCU blocked two kicks. Myles White blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter and the ball deflected to Osharmar Abercrombie, who he returned it 16 yards to the CCU 42. That set up a Coastal drive to the JSU 32 for a Ryan Granger 49-yard field goal that landed on the crossbar and bounced over.
In the second quarter, Jarius McMillan blocked a punt that resulted in a safety after the ball bounced through the end zone.
They were the third blocked punt and seventh blocked field goal in coach Joe Moglia’s five years as coach.
Punter Evan Rabon averaged 43 yards on eight punts, including a 33-yard punt that went out of bounds at the JSU 5. He had three punts returned (for 18 yards) Saturday, which is one more than the total number returned in 2015 and ’16 combined entering the game – a testament to Rabon’s terrific hang time.
Perhaps the lone shortcoming on special teams was Granger’s missed 51-yarder late in the fourth quarter.
“Special teams did give us a chance to win,” Moglia said. “I thought special teams were outstanding.”
Over the past three-plus seasons (2013-present), North Dakota State is the only FCS program with more wins than FCS No. 17 Coastal and No. 4 Jacksonville State.
The Bison have 46 wins with their 23-21 victory over Iowa on Saturday. Both CCU and JSU were tied with Eastern Washington with 35 wins apiece entering Saturday’s game.
JSU remained in second place on that list with its win Saturday.
Coastal is 37-5 (.880) over its last 42 regular-season games versus FCS opponents and 41-9 (.820) over its last 50 overall games versus FCS opponents including a 4-4 mark in the playoffs.
The Chants are now 3-5 all-time versus teams ranked in the top five in FCS, with wins over teams ranked first, third and fourth.
Two points away
Moglia has never been shy to attempt two-point conversions following touchdowns, and he has been relatively successful. He’s 27 of 47 (57.4 percent) in his five seasons at CCU.
So the Chants naturally went for two following Henderson’s TD run late in the third quarter that pulled them within two points, but Abercrombie was stopped on a run up the middle.
CCU was 1-for-2 on two-point conversions in the game, later converting one for a six-point lead with 13:15 to play, but the failed conversion played a key role in the outcome.
Some players had to be summoned from the locker rooms in order to replay the game’s final play when an official said he inadvertently blew his whistle as time ran out.
With 1 second remaining, Tyler Keane completed a 10-yard pass to Chris Jones near midfield, leading to a series of CCU laterals that culminated with a fumble and JSU recovery that most thought ended the game.
As several players and coaches from both teams headed to their locker rooms, officials met on the field and determined – after several minutes – that an untimed down had to be run. So the crowded field was cleared and the teams returned to the sidelines for a final play, which resulted in a Darius Jackson sack of Keane.
“I’ve never seen that before and hope I never see it again,” Grass said. “It was an accidental whistle and I barely heard it. He was probably 5 or 10 feet from me, but no one on the field stopped. Usually when that happens the official who blows the whistle stops the game, but the play kept going. It’s bizarre. It was kind of a weird ending.
“We could have gotten beat on that play because anything can happen on one play.”